Boyana Popvassilev is an interior designer and Director of design consultancy 26 Street.
26 Street decribes itself as "where applied sociology meets efficiency and sophistication" - the firm aims to explore modern social patterns and challenge industry trends to create timeless architectural outcomes.
1) You recently moved to Australia from New York. What prompted the move and what are your first impressions of Australia?
I had been living in New York City for 6 years when I met my partner Rick who is an Australian. We stayed for one more year before deciding to move to Fortitude Valley for a change of pace and work opportunities in a thriving economy. I formed my company 26 STREET in 2009 and moved the company to Australia in 2013. My lasting impression is that life here is lovelier and easier than most places in the world. This is the 4th country I have lived in for a long period of time and after two years I still feel like I’m on vacation.
2) In your opinion, what is the biggest differences and similarities between the Australian and American approaches to design?
The American approach to design is a very broad topic. However, I can speak for New York City, which is a mature and global market influenced by arts, culture, and history. The economy does not affect clients’ decisions as easily. Interior Architecture plays a large scope in projects because many of the buildings are old and cannot be altered architecturally. In Queensland we see more new-build with a connection to the outdoors - and, often, market influences.
3) How are you incorporating hotel-style amenity into Australian homes?
Hire us for your next project and we’ll show you ;)
4) What new home technologies do you think are game changes?
Smartphones and tablets used as remote controls for appliances from light bulbs to thermostats.
5) Who do you look up to for design inspiration?
Too many to name.. I follow tech companies for new developments, communication companies like Watson & Co in NYC for creative strategy, property developers from the hotel industry- some favourites are Andre Balazs (Standard Hotels) and Carlos Couturier from Grupo Habita, Islamic modern artists such as Babak Kazemi for detail and interpretation, American sculptors like Kate Hunt and Ursula von Rydingsvard for craftsmanship. Currently liking Neri & Hu from China and always Marcel Breuer for architecture/interiors.
6) How can Australian developers benefit from focusing more on interior designers?
Interior Design is a different industry altogether from architecture in terms of knowing materials, space configurations, trends, and incorporating comforts for social behaviors. Detail is often overlooked when the interior environment is addressed as an extension of the scope rather than an important component of the project. The Interior Design industry is evolutionary like all others, and working with the appropriate consultants will benefit all aspects of the project including the public’s attitude towards the developer.
7) Tell us about your greatest achievement so far in the industry. Take us through the project.
City Arcade/City Lane in Townsville. They were my first projects in Australia, completed this year. City Arcade is a refurbishment of a 1960’s arcade with fantastic original design elements, and City Lane next door is a specialty retail/restaurant laneway, which was created from scratch. We were involved in the initial concept planning including community integration and identity concepts, architecture and interior design. This project was exciting because it is part of a greater scheme to revive the Townsville CBD.
8) What is your outlook for the future of the interior design industry?
It’s an exciting future Australia wide. The market is stronger which leads to more interesting projects with global players.
9) What book is on your bedside table at the moment?
The Nature of the Future: Dispatches from the Socialstructed World by Marina Gorbis. I mostly read online, I start with the New York Times every morning. Current topics of interest include Zataari- the Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, which is evolving into a “do-it-yourself city”. There have been thriving businesses in the camp, like pizza deliveries and a bridal shop. A growing real-estate hierarchy is also forming.
10) Where do you go to escape and wind down?
I travel to many places but I like to wind down with my partner. We love Moreton Island and fishing on the Great Barrier Reef when at home.