The aim of the practice is to create spaces that are endearing and beautiful, where the feeling speaks louder than the furnishings and the levels of charm and comfort outweigh the instant gratification of the merely new.

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Paul Hecker

Paul Hecker is at a stage in his career where intuition, experience and confidence come together in a way that produces spaces where joy, comfort and charm collide. As a young designer, working in the interiors arm of architectural practices, both in Melbourne and London, it gave him the understanding of volume, orientation and materiality but it was through the example of one mentor that he learnt to trust his own innate judgement. ‘His advice, which I hold dear to this day, was to look at everything, to see the potential in everything, the joy (or lack thereof) and learn to make your own decisions around good and bad and find exciting ways to challenge the norms’, says Paul.

This approach ensures that he is open to the stimulus of travel, new designs in furniture and lighting, alternative ways of considering how a space is resolved, but ultimately, he edits, drawing on what is essential to the ethos of the practice. This is a philosophy both Paul and Hamish engender in their staff to create a practice that is open-minded, while questioning and distilling what is right for them and, in turn, their clients.

Paul, who is enthusiastic and ebullient by nature, expressed in his love of fashion and incredible eye for materiality, understands when a project requires an injection of theatre as much as when the dial is to be tuned down to calm. He understands the atmosphere that buildings with history impart and is a passionate advocate for the preservation of places of heritage value. Yet regardless of era his approach is to investigate the mix of light, colour, orientation and furnishings that, within a contemporary sensibility, contributes to a place that at its core feels good to be in.

Recently recognised by the South Australian Design Institute of Australia, marking 25 Design Icons past and present, for their contribution in the fields of interior design, furniture, manufacturing and design education, Paul now sits alongside the Hills Hoist and the Chrysler Charger as a national treasure.

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Hamish Guthrie

One of two founding directors of Hecker Guthrie, Hamish understands that it is imperative for a space to generate an emotional reaction. That it is less about the selection of objects, the component parts of an interior per se and more about the feeling that they collectively generate. This might sound counter-intuitive for an interior design practice but the judgement in what is chosen, their materiality, their mutual interaction and dialogue the context, ensures they communicate from a deeper place than surface aesthetics.

“Whatever the scale of the project we always start from a big, underpinning idea which informs materiality, light, comfort, texture and sets up filters early on for everyone involved in the project’, says Hamish. Hamish operates in a world of intense collaboration both with business partner Paul Hecker, with whom he reviews his work and vice versa, with staff that he mentors and with external builders, craftspeople, artists and clients. For Hamish the key to any client relationship is one of trust and, while acknowledging it is often hard won, he enjoys the mutual design journey they undertake and the places that a well-articulated idea can take them.

Hamish is a natural researcher, exercising a curiosity around travel, architecture, design and art. “It is important for us to be open to looking closely, experiencing things outside of the office environment, debating the merit of ideas and filing away, mentally, the things we see for future projects”, he says. While he is certainly cerebral he is equally grounded. A career, which began as a labourer in the construction industry, ensures meticulous detailing is married with practicality and a desire for perfection is matched by the knowledge of how to achieve it. He is also grounded by the presence of the beloved studio dog, Elka, a two year old mastiff labrador cross.

With his knowledgeable and considered approach to the world of design, it ensures Hamish is asked to speak at industry events, is invited on judging panels and is a highly regarded design commentator.


Hecker Guthrie, based in Melbourne, is one of Australia’s leading design practices undertaking projects, in the hospitality, residential, retail and commercial sectors, both here and abroad.

The directors, Paul Hecker and Hamish Guthrie, who appear on the surface to present a sort of yin and yang in terms of personality, have at their core common design beliefs that support and sustain one another and the broader practice.

Meeting at the offices of architect Darryl Jackson, in the mid 1990s, and working on a project together when it was rare for interior designers to be commissioned they clicked, and subsequently set up a partnership now in its 19th year.

Over that period they have forged a distinct approach to their multi-disciplinary practice through a series of closely held beliefs that include the expression of authenticity from the initial idea, through a series of spatial decisions and material choices, to the finished space.

These shared attributes are balanced by thoughtfulness (Hamish) and enthusiasm (Paul) bringing design solutions and providing an umbrella perspective which takes in several areas of expertise; interior design, building design, industrial design, furniture design and styling. A staff of 14 adds a wealth of interdisciplinary design skills and collaborative know how and is thoroughly supported by a strong administrative team.

The practice believes in working with the client to develop an overarching concept which drives a project and becomes a shared journey, with Hecker Guthrie delivering above and beyond in terms of commitment, quality and vision. The aim of the practice is to create spaces that are endearing and beautiful, where the feeling speaks louder than the furnishings and the levels of charm and comfort outweigh the instant gratification of the merely new.

Paul and Hamish have a clear design voice and command respect within the Australian design community, where they are often called upon for judging and public speaking. The award-winning work of the practice features regularly in design and lifestyle journals, books and blogs.