In 1999, Malcolm Schapel and his wife Amanda, realised a shared vision. Together they founded a humble design studio, producing 3D renders and graphics, for a handful of architects in Melbourne.
Fast forward to July 2019, and Scharp is celebrating its 20-year anniversary as a leading design firm, delivering cutting-edge 3D visualisation, brand design and interactive marketing collateral to the property and architecture industry, Australia-wide.
The creative couple have gone from strength-to-strength, attributing their success across all market sectors – including residential, commercial, retail, health, education, and major infrastructure – to their willingness to evolve with the rapidly developing technology in their field.
“We’re so excited to celebrate what we’ve achieved over the last 20 years,” Scharp founder and managing director Malcolm Schapel said.
“Despite the inevitable highs and lows the industry’s faced over the past two decades, our ability to stay at the forefront of progressive technology has enabled us to work successfully over many varied and different sectors.
“Our team has played an important role in many significant projects in Melbourne, Sydney and throughout Australia,” he added.
With a number of milestone projects under its belt, including major bids for Queen’s Wharf Brisbane, Melbourne Metro, and more recently Cross River Rail Brisbane, Scharp has proudly collaborated with major industry players, including Plenary, Lendlease, John Holland and Far East Consortium.
Scharp’s expansion across studios in Melbourne and Sydney now includes a multi-disciplinary creative team of twenty-five, handling all facets of marketing and bid campaigns in-house.
A unique service offering within the industry, the “One Creative Solution” provides the full suite of creative services, including 3D visualisation, brands, photography, movies and interactive.
Delivering on key milestone projects such as the Royal Children’s Hospital, The Southern Star and Waterfront City, Scharp quickly established a reputation for developing impressive 3D rendering and animation for its clients.
From its humble beginnings, Scharp was soon adding leading Australian developers and architects to its project portfolio, including Lendlease, Multiplex, Hassell, Billard Lease and Bates Smart.
By the time Johnny Wilkinson, director and head of business development, joined Scharp in 2004, the studio was already embarking on larger and more ambitious projects.
“As our reputation grew, so did the projects, leading to invitations to join major bids and tenders that required more than the typical 3D renders and fly-throughs,” Wilkinson said.
Every aspect of the marketing campaign is delivered in-house, from marketing strategy, brand identity and print design inclusive of brochures, signage and sales display suites, to the digital design of websites, apps and interactive touchscreen presentations.
Coinciding with major advances in hardware and software technology, Scharp’s experience with large-scale projects led to the delivery of impressive projects for the rapidly-evolving sports sector.
Clients including Perth Stadium, Adelaide Oval, Gold Coast Suns and the GWS Giants, as well as the Australian Open at Melbourne Park, engaged Scharp for their now-renowned 3D graphic and digital capabilities.
Australia’s burgeoning residential market went hand-in-hand with Scharp’s expansive multimedia offering.
While the digital nature of Scharp’s work allows them to deliver on projects Australia-wide, the Melbourne-based creative studio made a welcome move into the Sydney market, officially opening the doors to their Sydney office in the leafy, bustling creative hub of Surry Hills in 2012.
“The move to Sydney felt like a natural progression for us,” Schapel said.
“Sydney was – and still is – a massive market, and we felt it was critical to have a presence on the ground there.”
Projects for the Sydney Cricket Ground, Allianz Stadium and the Sydney Opera House have all benefited from this new expansion.
Work on landmark Australia projects, such as the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre and the Sydney International Convention, Exhibition and Entertainment Precinct, signal an important expansion in Scharp’s service offering.
“We worked to engineer a feature-rich method of delivery for these jobs, leading to the exploration and development of new presentation techniques for our clients,” added Malcolm.
Interactivity was a key service Scharp introduced, expanding to include brand, print and digital design, as well as motion graphics.
This allowed Scharp to successfully package up an entire bid submission, without the need to hire external contractors.
While continuing to progress into the commercial and retail markets, delivering high-profile projects for The GPT Group, QIC, Cbus Property and Vicinity Centres, the key to Scharp’s success transcends impressive client-lists or project portfolios.
It’s Scharp’s human-centred approach that sets them apart from their competitors.
“Our studio culture has been a critical factor in Scharp’s success,” Sharp director and co-founder Amanda Schapel said.
“Work-life balance and staff-retention is key.
“We have always encouraged our team to lead a balanced life outside of the studio. I think that shows in the large number of staff who have been with Scharp for many years.
“A lot of our key staff have grown with the company and have stepped up as leaders of our studio. We’re moving into the future with a really strong foundation, across both studios.”
Continuing to stay ahead of rapidly developing technologies is the priority for any design and interactive technology studio.
“It’s an exciting time for Scharp,” Malcolm Schapel said.
“We are making strides to really cement our position at the forefront of the architectural and property industry.”
Turning their technological talents to software development, including 360° virtual reality tours and UNREAL engine technology, Scharp is proudly arming clients with cutting-edge marketing tools, including drone and helicopter photography and video services.
“We only embrace new features that will deliver the best value to clients,” Schapel said.
“Virtual reality and real-time rendering can be powerful tools, but only in the appropriate application.
“Our focus is, and always will be, providing the best quality product to our client.”
Continuing to diversify their service offering and developing and exploring new technologies indicates that the next 20 years will see many leaps and bounds for Scharp.
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