Meet the Members: Fraser Norton
Meet Fraser Norton, Brunswick Sq’s very own plant whisperer, coffee aficionado and interior design guru. With a laugh that fills the hallways, you can’t miss him when he’s in.
Fraser has a permanent desk upstairs in the Resi area of Brunswick Sq, where you can usually find him working out ideas in Sketchup or thumbing through a Little Greene swatch card. We caught up with Fraser on a sunny afternoon last week and spoke about his love of the OG Sex and the City, his experience as a brand strategist and modernist Richard Neutra.
Can you tell us what you do and what an average work day looks like?
Do you remember those breathless 00s blog articles about how we would all end up with portfolio careers? No? Well me neither but I must have read some because this is exactly what I have ended up with. I am one part brand strategy consultant and one part commercial interior designer making the average day hard to describe but essentially it’s all about problem solving.
I had one crazy day a few weeks ago where I went from refining brand architecture models for a $7bn business, to assessing naming candidates for the merger of two established architect practices, to designing the physical menu system for a hospitality client. I’d be lying if I said every day was like this — and I am really quite pleased that they aren’t — but I am energized by being able to call on quite different skill sets to solve client challenges.
What are you watching/reading at the moment?
I’ve just finished the Apple TV series, Severance. Unusually (unusual because who goes into a series cold nowadays?) I knew nothing about the show before starting, which is definitely the way I recommend watching it. It is a master class in gently peeling back the layers of a complex and weird narrative. And of course the interiors and costume design are extremely considered and integral to the plot.
Talking of which, while Just Like That was a definite hate watch, seeing all the New York interiors reminded me of how much the original Sex and the City show influenced my design tastes as a teenager.
What excites you most about the creative process?
Without question: seeing your ideas come to life in physical form. As a brand strategist, I have had the privilege of contributing to the experience and identity of brands that form part of the fabric of our daily lives. As an interior designer, experiencing how the choices I have made interact with each other and the users of the space is a special kind of thrill.
“I’m a modernist in that I believe design is a tool to improve lives at a non-surface level”
What kit/tools can you not live without?
Spotify, Fellow Ode coffee bean grinder (other grinders are available) and Sketchup.
Anything you’re working on at the moment that’s exciting you?
I’ve just come off three large projects so I’m taking a beat to do all those life admin tasks we put off but are essential! I am also going to take this chance to improve my photorealistic rendering with an in depth V-Ray course. The geek in me is very excited by that.
Do you have a favourite artist/designer who really inspires you? What do you love about their work?
In my heart I’m a modernist in that I believe design is a tool to improve lives at a non-surface level. And it is the work of second generation modernists like Richard Neutra that really inspires me. Neutra, probably most famous for his work in Palm Springs, created architecture and interiors that promoted wellbeing through a strong connection with nature. To me, his works speaks to the promise of a better life, and a focus on the interactions that matter be it social or ecological.
Today, the resulting laidback luxe vibe and interconnection with nature is evident in a lot of Australian design work in both branding and interiors. Agencies such as Alexander & Co, Technē Architects and Pop & Pac are among my many favorites. And, 12 years on, Landor’s 2010 brand identity for the city of Melbourne remains in my top three logo designs of the 21st century.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Fraser! If you want to see more of Fraser’s work you can follow him on Instagram.