Jessie Summons / Director / Good Designs  / 
Continuous Impact

story / Interview / May 9, 2020

I studied Contemporary Art History at Melbourne University – focusing on museum architecture, materials and design. After graduating I landed a job within State Government as a project manager in the Creative Victoria infrastructure team. My favourite project was setting up the Collingwood Arts Precinct, now Collingwood Yards (and finding the Keith Haring door). Next, I joined forces with great architects to create Nightingale Housing. I led it as CEO for two years and was able to work with incredible designers, development managers, financiers and home buyers.

After being invited to participate in the Startmate founders program, I learnt a huge amount about software and technology and have now merged that with my passion for the built environment and housing to create Good Designs – with the mission is to increase the quality and sustainability of housing in Australia by empowering buyers through independent information.

Good Designs is a place where every property buyer in Australia can get real independent and expert design insight for any off-the-plan property.

The overarching focus is to advocate for well-designed, sustainable buildings. The idea was borne from getting so many requests from my extended network to help them understand off-the-plan properties they were interested in buying. Most of the properties they were sending me looked good at first glance, but when I dug a little deeper revealed themselves to be substandard.

However, one project a friend sent me actually exceeded my first impressions. It was designed by Kirsten Thompson Architects – a great architect, it was well designed, being built by a reputable developer, it was reasonably priced, sustainable, and in a great location. That’s when I realised there needed to be a place for buyers to easily find above-par projects. That’s how Good Designs was born.

I want to continue advocating for those in the industry doing great things and excitingly, I’m seeing more well designed, sustainable developments come onto the market which is phenomenal. In the near future, all projects will need to step-up, especially across design and sustainability to be competitive. This will lead to a great outcome for both buyers and our cities. By providing independent information, Good Designs plays a role in speeding up this process.

We aim to have a radical impact. My dream is that all new properties will have excellent longevity, sustainability, and basic qualities of good design like good ventilation, light and thermal insulation. The first step to impact is empowering buyers with real information. With more transparency through sites like Good Designs, developers delivering high quality projects will get a leg up, and developers who aren’t, will need to level-up to stay competitive.

Yes, we are looking for experts! We are looking for design, planning and development professionals (architects, builders, planners) with 10+ years experience who specialise or are super passionate about high quality multi-residential development.

I’m driven by being able to create a step change in the development industry now, because it will have ripple effects on the future of our cities and everybody who lives in one. And the feedback from buyers – being able to support buyers to take the stress out of such a big decision. Creating incremental change pays dividends. Stay curious, ask questions, be persistent and push for better outcomes, because that outcome is going to be there for a very long time.

I recently moved to Byron Bay. It’s been super invigorating to meet new people and be immersed in nature while I’m creating something new. It’s important to put yourself in places where ideas exchange is supported rather than closely guarded. I first set up at The Corner Palm Coworking space and then Habitat which made a huge impact on quickly connecting to the local community.

My advice, be systematic. Have one chat with an interesting person a week and watch your network grow and diversify. I don’t believe in work life balance, I know that’s controversial. Everyone’s idea of how much they want and need to work will be different. For me, I get a lot of joy and energy from working, so working on weekends doesn’t feel exhausting for me, it’s invigorating. On the other hand, I live right on Tallows beach, so I can get a 30 minute surf in on my lunch break. Integrate the two however you need to keep your energy in the things that matter most to you.

Good buildings come from good people, and all problems are solved by good design. 

Stephen Gardiner

 

We met Jessie through the socials and we were very excited to learn more about Good Designs. The appreciation of good architecture and good design should not be limited to an appreciation of artistry, but for what social, environmental, mental and physical impacts good design can have on our people and our cities. It is so brilliant to see woman taking new innovative directions with their businesses. Jessie has entrepreneurial spirit in spades and we wish her all the best in 2020 and beyond. Luckily Jessie was also in Melbourne town just before the lock-downs went into place, so we could take some snaps. If you are interested in becoming an expert, you can contact Jessie through Good Designs and if you have any thoughts on the value of good design, leave them below! We hope you’re all staying safe! J & D x

 

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