TBS Partners

Adrian Ramsay on a Life of Design

Adrian Ramsay may excel at bringing your vision to life, but his path to home design was anything but straightforward.

 

Helming his namesake Adrian Ramsay Design House, Adrian Ramsay specializes in the design of middle-to-upper-end custom homes, ground-up conceptual design, with his clients typically spending from $250k to $3 million on their homes.

Working predominantly on the Sunshine Coast in Australia, his work stretches to overseas projects as well including designs in the UK, USA, NZ, India, in addition to throughout Australia.

“Our passion for homes that support wellness, sustainability, privacy of acreage, and creating forever/legacy homes is what we love to design the most,” Adrian Ramsay says.

Adrian’s career origins were driven by knowing that design was something he had an affinity for, and also knowing that he had the talent to bring a design from idea to reality from an early age.

“My dad is a fine artist and, while he worked for different ad agencies in NZ and would exhibit at the National Art Gallery in Wellington, he has many paintings hanging in homes and corporate HQs internationally.”

There was a lot of art in the house growing up, and there’s a shift to design. There is, per Adrian, a distinction between art and design.

“Art is an expression of the person who’s creating it,” he says. “Design is created with functionality. With design, you don’t have to go as deep into your own emotional space, you do have to go into the emotional space of who it’s designed for and how they will use it. Art is beautiful and purely art.”

His passion for design goes back to his childhood, spurred on by his father who got him into reading western novels, romantic stories about the wild west. These inspired Adrian to create physical models of western towns – the saloons, banks, stable buildings.

 

Blessed with the talent to make almost anything from cloth, Adrian would go to the local roller-skating rink and parties dressed in wild, self-made outfits. People would want to know where he got them, so he’d make something for them too.

 

“I’d build western towns with cardboard and glue. Most kids wouldn’t have had the resources, but we had tons. I used to model make, mainly things that were physical built structures of small buildings, creating environments like western towns, drawing the fronts on them, the side windows, and things like that. It gave me the desire to create and design buildings. It gave me the chance to think about the size and dimension of the buildings. I realized I could make things with my hands and conceive things without just copying them.”

In high school, Adrian describes his “gift of dyslexia.”

“I never had the grades to go on and study architecture like I had planned. So, instead of higher study, the world was my oyster; I could choose to make my own path.”

With this, his fascination for design grew and covered clothing as well, so, this is where he started.

“My parents wouldn’t buy me the clothes I wanted, my mum would buy me fabric though to make my own clothes, this led to me setting up my first business at school to make formal pants for the boys.”

Blessed with the talent to make almost anything from cloth, Adrian would go to the local roller-skating rink and parties dressed in wild, self-made outfits. People would want to know where he got them, so he’d make something for them too.

“My girlfriend’s father had a company called Line 7, they made wet weather gear for yacht racing. I had been obsessed with the America’s Cup since I was 18. Line 7 gave me my first insight into big-scale clothing manufacturing, so I started applying for jobs to work with clothing designers.”

Eventually, he landed an opportunity to work for Expozay, NZ’s hottest swimwear brand.

“Clothing is all about volume, flow, and fit. Fabric changes things, the same way that volumes and material change the feel and sound, ambience in a home. It’s looking at what the design really does. You’re analyzing everything to get the artistic result you’re looking for with the functional design to make it work.”

Becoming a freelancer in the early ’90s, Adrian would draw up designs with what was happening in England and would design swimwear, jeanswear, and bags. This led to his working with the brand Pazazz, and with supermodel Rachel Hunter, and later heading up design for Moontide swimwear, a global brand.

Adrian Ramsay of Adrian Ramsay Design House

Adrian says, “I am blessed to have garments included in the NZ Fashion Museum from my swimwear days. Canterbury of New Zealand headhunted me to come work for them, heading up their design and restructuring the department. I had the pleasure of working closely with Sir Edmund Hillary on his outward bound and expedition programs. I also worked with Sir Peter Blake, Dennis Conner, and many others in the international yachting community. I was purpose-driven, the clothes had to be entirely functional.”

At the same time, Adrian was also flipping houses.

“I learned that you could buy a place and do ‘this’ to improve it. Buy it, live in it, sell it. Doing it as a side hustle, creating the design of the renovations myself.

“I’d formulate a vision through an initial idea, and then have a draftsman to take me through the idea and show me what needed refining. The stuff that wasn’t obvious would be made clear to me by him, this became a great learning ground for my future.”

Later moving to Australia, Adrian flipped several homes in the early 2000s, buying and selling his principal places of residence.

“I bought my own house here and my best friend and I flipped it, selling it for $980,000, and it was in an area where only one house had ever been sold for more than $1 million.

“Since the property we’d done had netted a big price, as we’d included some major innovations, this got us lots of recognition for the work we did. People noticed and asked for help, this became the start of creating conceptual designs for others.

“This ‘side hustle’ became the business which I’d dreamed of at school.”

Adrian designed and worked hand-in-hand with a local draftsman, turning concepts into working plans for clients, and the business was built on the back of that.

“With a great team around me of licensed specialists, this ensures that our clients are well serviced; we love renovations, as well as greenfield custom homes designs, we engage in many different styles so its always an exciting design journey.”

From his Buderim, Queensland, base of operations, he reflects on the business he’s built with great pride.

“It’s been a phenomenal, interesting career covering a lot of areas,” he says.

“Having one main skillset is the through-line. I can conceive the design of things, and empathetically create from listening to what people’s needs are. Outcomes stem from people’s stories. I can put together the home that will tell their story in form, space, and shape, emotionally supporting them.

“We tell an aspirational story through housing, offices, and custom furniture. It’s their story, not my story. I’m empathetic when it comes to walking in their shoes, knowing what we can do to work with them.

“With clients, we look for great people to work with, because they bring great projects with great outcomes that support their lives, making their world a better place.”

 

 

Adrian Ramsay is an award-winning designer from Buderim on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. His work can be found at https://www.ardesignhouse.com/

 

 

 

 

*

Top