In our exclusive series of interviews with industry experts, we are thrilled to present a captivating exploration of the world of Architecture and Design with none other than the founder of Simple Dwelling, Anthony Richardson. As we delve into this enlightening conversation, we have the privilege of gaining valuable insights and perspectives from a visionary in the field, whose work has left an indelible mark on the landscape of architectural design and living spaces. Simple Dwelling, the brainchild of Anthony Richardson, essence of Simple Dwelling lies in the belief that less can indeed be more, and that the elegance of minimalism can transform living spaces into sanctuaries of serenity. Simple Dwelling is not just a publication and YouTube channel; it’s a sanctuary for those seeking a simpler, more sustainable life in harmony with nature. Founded by Anthony Richardson, it’s an evolution of his personal connection with design and architecture. 

In this exclusive interview, Anthony Richardson will unravel the intricacies of his journey from architectural education to the inception of Simple Dwelling. He will offer glimpses into the creative processes that drive his designs, shedding light on the principles that guide his quest for architectural perfection. 

RTF: Hi Anthony, we are so glad to have you as a guest on Future Talks. Thanks for joining us. So tell us a little about your journey so far. What has your background been like and how did you delve into the field of journalism & media? 

Anthony: I started off studying building design before heading to university to begin my architecture school journey. During my undergrad I was coming across some very talented local architects, such as Andrew Maynard, Mel Bright, Claire Cousins, and I had this strange urge to share their projects. Not wanting to post to my personal Instagram account, I started a second account, but I never saw it as ‘media’. Over time my interest in the media side of architecture grew, and I made the decision halfway through my Masters to pursue it as a career path, but I did make sure to get my degree.

RTF: Tell us about Simple Dwelling and what led to its creation.

Anthony: Simple Dwelling is an evolution of my personal connection with design and architecture. When I started the account, ArchitectureVictoria, I had a keen interest in the locality of architecture, diving deep into Melbourne’s architecture culture. When I decided to pursue it as a full-time career, I rebranded it to The Design Emotive, allowing me more opportunity to publish a wider breadth of projects. I started the YouTube channel as a way to share architecture in a medium that is a little unconventional but offered quite strong storytelling capabilities.

It wasn’t until I had a realisation that this publication, the YouTube channel, website, Instagram account, can be a reflection of me. What architecture am I interested in? What message do I want to put out to the world through media? During architecture school I became obsessed with minimalist design, particularly modern Japanese architecture and homes. I even titled my personal manifesto for an assignment, Keep It Simple, Stupid. I looked at this passion of mine, along with our need for a more sustainable future, and once again rebranded to Simple Dwelling, as a mean to explore residential architecture that is both simple and sustainable.

RTF: How do you source projects to be featured? Do you look for specific kinds of projects? Is there a preference for certain submissions over others? If so, what’s the differentiating factor in the projects that get selected for features?

Anthony: I source projects through a variety of ways, but it’s mainly through BowerBird (a platform for design journalist founded by Nic Granleese and Ben Morgan, two close friends) and Instagram. With a publication dedicated to simplicity and sustainability, I try to be specific without being too rigid. My aim for Simple Dwelling is to challenge the ‘trend’ of minimalism in design, and show that a home can be minimalist without being all-white and grey.

So I look for homes that do have simple forms, clean lines, a simple material palette and minimal ornamentation, but I also look at other factors such as floor area (as I believe a ‘mansion’ or excessively large home isn’t minimalism), and what is this house doing in term of sustainability. It may look good, but is it doing good for the planet? This could be simply having great passive design and sustainably sourced materials, all the way to being completely off-grid and self-sufficient, and anything in between. I try not to be too rigid, as sustainability exists on a spectrum, same with minimalism.

RTF: How do you document homes? What has been your process like right from identifying a project to narrating its story?

Anthony: I use to be quite traditional in my publishing, uploading the photographs that architects commission to my Instagram and website. However, Simple Dwelling is all original content. So after connecting with an architect, I will communicate with them during pre-production to understand the story of the project and formulate questions for the interview. On the day of the video shoot, I will record the architect’s answers (or these days, a prepared statement presented to the camera) and film the home, as well as take my own photographs.

It’s during the edit that the story begins to unfold, wanting to share what is most remarkable about the home while keeping it contextual.

RTF: For our audience that largely includes architects and designers, please elaborate on the right way for architects and designers to get featured on Simple Dwelling. Are you sourcing simple, sustainable projects throughout the year or do you have certain monthly themes that you follow for picking the projects?

Anthony: I do have a submissions page on my website, but I honestly try and keep everything flexible, whether it’s Instagram DMs, the form submissions or even just a cold email. Truth be told, I am the one that usually reaches out.

The trickiest aspect is dealing with interstate and international projects. It’s just me behind Simple Dwelling, so I handle pre-production, filming, editing and publishing of every project, and sometimes it can be hard to head to a different city or country to film. I was lucky enough to spend some time in Japan earlier this year before the arrival of Little Dweller (our baby), and hope to do more international trips to capture homes with her by my side. So it’s always difficult to respond to an international architect with the perfect Simple Dwelling project to just sit tight, I might be in your country in a few years.

RTF: How soon can one expect to get featured after submitting the project? How soon should one follow up? What is the ideal number of follow-ups?

Anthony: As outlined above, it’s not, ironically, as simple as send and get featured. With it being original content, there is plenty of back-and-forth leading up to the shoot date. I try to respond to any incoming requests within a couple of days, but sometimes business and life happens, so a follow-up a week or two later is always appreciated.

RTF: The media landscape has evolved significantly over the years. What are your thoughts on these changes, and how do they impact your work? And what has your biggest learning been in all these years of content creation?

Anthony: I started the ArchitectureVictoria Instagram account in 2015, which is over 8 years ago. During that time I’ve seen the incredible rise of social media, primarily Instagram, and recently, video production. Instagram in itself has also seen a magnitude of change over the years, with some accounts seeing massive growth and many architectural practices and publications struggling to grow at all.

The changes in Instagram have impacted my work both positively and negatively, where the account is consistently losing more followers than its gaining. This reminds me that I’m glad I have the YouTube channel, and that is the biggest learning. Don’t put all your eggs into one basket, but at the same time, don’t try and carry too many baskets. For me, I’m focusing on YouTube, Instagram and my website, but throughout I’ve tried my hand at Pinterest, Facebook, TikTok, Reddit, Clubhouse, podcasting… Keep it simple.

RTF: What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a journalist for you personally?

Anthony: It’d have to be the professional relationships and friendships that have come from me simply cold emailing an architect wanting to film a house of theirs. And on the other side, reading comments and DMs from those who watch the videos and hearing how a project has inspired them, or how much they’ve learnt from a video, that’s also quite rewarding.

RTF: Do you prefer to receive pitches from both architects and PR companies? If so, what are the challenges that you face when dealing with both of them?

Anthony: I have no real preference when it comes to who pitches me, whether it’s an architect or a PR company. The biggest challenge for both is communication, where for the architect, they are often time-poor and so it can take some time to receive replies and find times to book a shoot. However, with a PR company, I’m missing a direct link with the architect, and so some information could be lost in the back-and-forth. But I will say, when a PR company can come to me and say “I have multiple projects from multiple architects that could suit…”, that’s a pitch I love to hear.

RTF: What is your team at Simple Dwelling like? How can young architects get an opportunity to work with you? What is the skill-set that you look for?

Anthony: Simple Dwelling has always, since 2015, comprised of just myself. Over the years I have thought about hiring videographers, editors, writers and social media mangers, but I don’t pursue as it comes down to cost. I am always open to the idea of someone, whether it’s an architecture student or graduate, joining me on site to observe how I work and ask questions, however, they wouldn’t be ‘working’.

If I was to hire, it would be as a means to solve some of my biggest challenges. Right now, with a relatively new baby, it’s filming projects outside of Melbourne. So I’d need someone with the right camera gear, can film in my particular style, can interview the architect, can also take high-quality architectural photographs, and can ideally edit the video and photographs, while being affordable, and in multiple countries… 

RTF: Can you share some tips or advice for aspiring architectural journalists? What is the scope in this industry, as in design media?

Anthony: I have three pieces of advice for an aspiring media person. The first is, figure out how your publication can be different, and usually that comes down to a niche. For me, ArchitectureVictoria was quite local in the global sense, and with Simple Dwelling, we’re talking about homes of a particular style. Is your publication focused purely on Mid-Century homes? Or is it coastal homes? Or maybe you want to do cafes because you love coffee? And of course the other aspect to this is, is it a video-only publication? Or maybe you do your own photography? Is it a TikTok publication?

The second piece of advice is focus on what you’re passionate about in design and architecture. That passion will come through to your audience. If you are madly passionate about the design of toilet blocks around the world, make your publication about that. You will find and captivate an audience.

And the last piece of advice is have patience. Growing an audience for your publication will take time, very rarely can you go from 0 to 100,000+ in a year. For the first 1.4 years of Simple Dwelling on YouTube, I had maybe 300 subscribers, it wasn’t until randomly a video went viral that I saw growth that presented opportunity. View your publication in decades, take a breath, and hit publish.

Oh and a bonus piece of advice, something which I really wish I knew when I started, be aware of copyright. Don’t just download photographs of a website and post to your own social media, even with crediting. Find the architect, email them, ask them to send you their media kit, and do it the right way. I see so many account with ‘DM if this is your photo and want credit, or have it taken down’, and it’s not the right way to go about it. If you are wanting to be involved in media and architecture media, be professional and ask for media kits.


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