Jefa - Architect, Interior Designer, Academic, Teacher, Indigenous Design Advocate

University attended: University of Melbourne | La Trobe University | Box Hill Institute of TAFE

Course completed: Bachelor of Architecture | Bachelor of Planning and Design | Associate Diploma of Applied Science (Architectural Drafting)

Current job (company/position): Architect | Interior Designer | Teacher | Design Advocate | Director – Greenaway Architects | Honorary Senior Fellow | Lecturer | Studio Leader and Tutor – University of Melbourne | Director – Indigenous Architecture + Design Victoria [IADV] Learn more about IADV below.

When did you first become engaged with the idea of entering your professional field?
My interest emerged from undertaking graphics and art classes at high school, coupled with an interest in Lego, as a child (which developed spatial reasoning skills) along with love to draw (the immediacy of mind to hand) as well as an interest in how things worked and fit together.

At what point in your schooling did you realise that going to university would help you achieve your career goals? 
The later years of high school made it clear that university was the key way to undertake studies necessary to become an architect. I wasn’t aware at this stage that there are non-linear ways to make it.

What are the things you wish you’d known about future careers or study when you were at high school?
That there are always alternative or lateral pathways to achieve your goals and that the final year of high school (or for that matter necessarily completing within the briefest timeframe) is not the be all and end all. If you arrive at an interest in something (or realise later on) and have the passion, drive and preparedness to work hard, anything can be achieved. My pathway was initially through (having also worked for a couple of years prior to that) the TAFE system via a technical drafting course, followed by an unrelated degree to finally reach my aim of becoming an architect – these all became key stepping stones. When I got there, I was there for the right reason – because it interested me, nobody pushed me to do something that I didn’t want to do – and that I had the passion to follow it through.

What is the best part of your workday?
The start of a new day, as it provides the opportunity to tackle new challenges and the potential to create …

What are two feel-good elements of your job?
1. Seeing or hearing excitement expressed by a client when they first see an element of a project that they particularly love or didn’t expect. 

2. To sell an idea which is unique or innovative that is embraced despite the leap of faith often required of the client. Good clients always equals good projects.

Can you share three interesting/unknown facts about your job?
1. Design constitutes but a small percentage of the time for a project, yet is in fact the driving force to the success of a project.

2. It typically takes 20% of the time to complete 80% of the work, but 80% of the time to complete the last 20%.

3. There are less than 10 registered Indigenous architects in Australia - ever.

Examples of Jefa's work:

1. The Lowitja Institute, Carlton (Kitchen) - (Photo: Shannon McGrath)






2. Melbourne House (Entry) - (Photo: Peter Casamento)








*About Indigenous Architecture + Design Victoria [IADV]

IADV works to find pathways for young Koori kids to be involved in the design/built environment professions as a way of showcasing and strengthening culture.

Visit the IADV website to find out more.

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