Neill Johanson, Principal.
Davenport Campbell & Partners Pty Ltd.

Where do you source your inspiration from?

Because most of what I do workwise is about helping people thrive at work I take my inspiration from the everyday and joyful things in life.

Watching how people interact with each other and the role different types of space place in making that conversation great is a constant source of inspiration.

I’m also greatly inspired by nature so biophilic design in workplace is something I’m constantly exploring.

Placemaking is a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces. What role does placemaking have to you/ the community around you?

Placemaking to me is all about creating places that promote a strong sense of belonging. The steps of a building can tell us a lot about a community. When I think about the steps to the Sydney Town Hall, the Opera House and the Art Gallery of NSW I think of 3 places where I can sit all day. Places where I can meet others, be entertained or sit undisturbed. Conversely, you can stand, shout and protest about something important.

What work or experience have you recently seen/ been to which has challenged your thoughts? What did you like/ didn’t you like?

Placemaking is often dynamic. A places value can be transformed with one event such as the fireworks on the Harbour Bridge or on ANZAC Day when George Street is closed to cars. Vivid is another example of how dramatically a number of places can change yet remain united with a creative bond.

Do you believe it’s important to integrate technology and the way we connect with people? How do you use technology to connect to the people and places around you?

Technology is already integrated into many elements of my life from the Opal Card to the self-serve check out at a super market. Finding the balance between analogue connections and digital connections is my biggest challenge. Sometimes I’ll text someone so I know where they are so I can see them in person otherwise I’m connected with a range of Apps, GPS devices and mobile technology. MONA remains the best example of how a person can be connected to a place and all the things inside it. The ability to curate your own story is brilliant.

I also like the Qantas Frequent Flier Program because it’s predictive, operates across numerous platforms and is a good source of information.