Meet the Members: Hari Milburn
Get ready to be inspired by the dynamic and adventurous interior designer Hari Milburn. Hari makes waves in the hospitality and outdoor industries with her thoughtful and creative dedication to storytelling. When she is not deep in the depths of a new project you’ll find her cycling in nature on big adventures.
We chatted about Hari’s recent cycling trip to Rwanda, the foraging workshops that inspire her, and how she incorporates her love for the outdoors in all she does.
Can you tell us what you do and what an average work-day looks like?
I always commute by bike, sometimes stopping by a local coffee shop for an oat flat white to have a slow start to the day. My work varies from freelancing for large London design agencies to working on client-direct briefs in the hospitality design sector. Work has begun to diversify in that I am now the marketing and community manager for outdoor brand, Sundays, where I connect people with the outdoors, host events and share their stories.
Evenings are often spent with a cycle, either leading rides or cycling with a couple of friends. I also often seek out talks within the design or outdoor industries.
What are you listening to/watching at the moment?
I have very little time to sit and watch anything, any spare moment I prioritise being outside. As much as I enjoy the work I do, I dislike that so much of the time doing it is desk-based. I can be found listening to podcasts while working or on a bike, often on health, design, cycling, mad adventures or anything from the Do Lectures. Or when times get really tough on long-distance bike rides, I stick trance music through the ears!
Can you tell us about your recent cycling trip to Rwanda?
Due to the absence of work in lockdown, I took up cycling to fill my time. This formed the feeling of travel, time outside and a focus, in what was a very challenging time to be in the commercial interior industry. Since then, I have been hooked on cycling, which led me to enter Race Around Rwanda, a 1000 km mixed terrain race. An unbelievable journey of culture, challenge, pain and joy all mixed into one. Slow travel in this format is unlike anything else in my opinion. The isolation on the bike clears the mind, brings a true perspective, and allows for creative thoughts as I find it’s a place that frees my imagination. I came back with goals and a new motivation to drive my work in a certain direction.
What excites you most about the creative process?
I am hugely passionate about expressing brand stories within design. Creating a key narrative that which threads through the creative process and ties everything together.
I start any project with research on the brand, customer/user, which all feed into creating a strong creative narrative which influences all aspects of the design process. After receiving a clear brief, and understanding the customer needs and competition, I often seek inspiration from more abstract sources. For example, when working on the restaurant design for Westonbirt Arboretum, I was looking at tree guides, garden tools, poetry and ways to bring the outdoors into the dining experience.
What kit/tools can you not live without?
My iPad has been an invaluable tool recently and has boosted my confidence when it comes to hand sketching. It’s such an effective way to express ideas, mark up drawings, take notes or create digital illustrations. A side hustle of mine is @burn.prints – a series of landscapes and buildings. Transitioning these to create on the iPad rather than Illustrator was a massive time saver for me but also allowed to me ‘draw’ rather than feel like I was just using the computer.
As a movement to push my tools and a form of expression, I recently attended the most beautiful foraging and printmaking workshop. After working on Westonbirt, looking for creative direction within nature, I wanted to expand my skills to different mediums of design and how I can incorporate this into branding projects or the interiors themselves.
Anything you’re working on at the moment that’s exciting you?
The aim for this year is to gain more client-direct projects, combine my love of the outdoors within the designs I create and focus on obtaining clients in the outdoors industry.
I have just started working on a Bristol-based beer offer and doing the branding for a bike-packing route in the Pyrenees. After designing the restaurant and two outdoor offers at Westonbirt a couple of years ago, I would love to work on more sites for Forestry England and approach the National Trust.
Why did you choose to come to Gather Round?
I moved to Bristol last year not really knowing anyone. Gather Round has been an integral part of belonging to a community and helping me make friends with like-minded and creative people. I know I wasn’t great working from home in an isolated environment so Gather Round has provided me with the perfect social environment I was seeking.