Since 2005, Schulberg Demkiw Architects have worked to provide an attentive service to their clients through personalised high-end home designs. Based upon feedback from previous projects, Robert Schulberg and his partner, Ray Demkiw, adapted the company from a previous architectural firm to enhance their following and establish stronger connections with their clients. Currently based in South Melbourne, Schulberg Demkiw Architects do all that they can to make sure their custom designs are matched to the individual clients’ needs.
“We deliver a very traditional architectural service for our clients by providing a design, documentation and project management approach to projects,” says Schulberg. “We guide clients right through the process from the outset of the very initial concept design, right through architectural detailing and interior design selections –educating and leading them through the whole process step by step. We work with them very closely and take a lot of feedback from the clients. We get to know them quite intimately in order to understand how they live and how they will use their house in the future. What they end up with as a result of this journey is very much a product of themselves rather than one of ourselves, one that they will enjoy living in; it’ll be a lifestyle for them.”
In order to accurately reflect each client’s vision, Schulberg Demkiw Architects must first comprehend their specific needs and overall in-house routine; they ensure to have all necessary questions answered and design around these needs – rather than what they think a client might be happy with – with respect to sustainability, cost, and overall aesthetics. “In today’s economy and environment, we just find that everything is so costly and has to really have a value,” says Schulberg. “It’s a matter of whether spaces need to be duplicated, or you can make them more flexible, so they can serve multiple purposes and therefore you can cut down on the number of spaces to be provided. In the past, every activity had a different space, which ended up creating a lot of wasted space within a house. Today, you try and utilise every bit of space that you have.
The process starts right from the outset in your design, in respect to the siting of a house or a building, to orientation and placement on a block, to the amount of glazing that you put into a building. Today, you need to consider the Six Star energy when you’re looking at a residence, and then you go beyond that when you look at the shading effects on buildings because of the sun direction – your northern exposures, your western exposures, your time limit, the sun exposure to the inside of the house. In addition to that, you’re looking at your solar benefits with respect to hot water and electricity; you need to consider water storage facilities. Clients must look at all different aspects in regards to these measures and more whilst they’re constructing a house as our resources are just going to get more and more scarce as time goes on. So, we encourage clients to look at these through that process, and choose what they wish to include; a lot go for a high volume of these items, and others are selective in regards to what they put into their houses.”
Interior design is equally as important as the architectural design, and is from early in the process. Schulberg Demkiw Architects has inhouse interior design as well as works with external interior designers depending upon the clients’ wishes. When it practices mutual exclusivity with these aspects, it can sometimes result in total control over both processes in order to guarantee a perfect match. “You’ve got to have an interior designer that has the same philosophy and belief in the project that you do,” says Schulberg. “But, with respect to detailing and that side of the interior design process, we believe that we have to keep control over that; it just has to work hand-in-hand with the architecture to get it all working consistently and perfectly in order to get the best results at the end of the day. But, it is also good to have interior designers’ input to get broader aspects, knowledge and experience. It’s better to get that wealth of experience to join with us and to give the best value to our client at the end of the day, so that they end up with the best result.”
The ultimate goal at Schulberg Demkiw Architects is “to be an industry leader providing creative and innovative architectural and interior solutions.” In order to achieve this goal and promote future success, Schulberg, Demkiw, and their associates aim “to provide a creative architectural solution to every client in a highly professional manner which achieves exceptional results that exceed their expectations.” Their exercise in innovation and professionalism has helped them initiate and maintain their current reputation with clients, along with their efforts to uphold and educate the necessary principles of excellence in project design and documentation. The ability to inherit and grow solid relationships with staff and suppliers is also a core value within the company, as it allows each party to pursue their own personal journey towards greatness through reliable service and quality workmanship.
“Everything that we do with our clients, staff, suppliers, contractors – everybody that we come in contact with in this industry – is based on relationships. Nothing is more important than developing a good relationship with anyone; it’s all about that relationship, and everything stems from that. So, that’s the foundation for everything that we do; that’s where we start with everybody, and that’s the primary focus that we have when we work through everything – when we work through projects, when we continue working with clients, when we deal with our staff. Everything is about maintaining a good relationship with everybody as we go, because in work environments that’s the primary focus that you have in dealing with people.”
One of the main issues Schulberg highlights within the industry is the increase in housing costs from each section of the economical spectrum, unfortunately, with no foreseeable ending in sight. “Even at the higher-end of the market, we find people have become a lot more cost-conscious in regards to what they can afford to do,” he says. “I guess it’s just because the cost of building, the cost of renovating – all of this – has become very expensive, and what you get for your dollar these days is not what you obviously got a few years ago. I don’t think people’s expectations have kept pace with the change in the price within the industry. So, people still have an expectation that they can achieve a very high quality home with a lot of modern conveniences at a reasonable price, whereas, in reality, that price is going up a lot quicker than what they can achieve it for. Every year, you’ve got a client that comes in with a very similar brief, but the cost of that home is just going up at a much faster rate based on the similar brief, and the client doesn’t really understand that and they’re not really willing to spend; whether they’re willing or whether they can afford to, there’s always that question. But, that’s become a huge issue. I don’t see it slowing down within the industry, and that’s become a huge concern because it just seems to be pacing itself, and I don’t think it’s going to end.”
However, while implementing architectural aspects within a home build may seem costly, Schulberg believes that it provides clients with more exclusive, long-term benefits. Not only does the added assistance make the process much easier, but it also guarantees a truly “tailor-made” result; it is because of these qualities that he hopes that potential clients will be more keen to pursue a professionally designed home. “If you get a good architect-designed residence, it’s something that a client lives with for the next 10 to 20 years,” he says. “They get the value out of it many times over, and the feedback we get from our clients is that it creates a lifestyle for them. Many of them say that their homes are like a haven – a reflection of themselves – and many times they end up not having to go away on holidays because they feel that they’re on a permanent holiday within their home.
It creates an environment that they love – that they want to be in – not just a place that they have to be in. So, it adds a lot of different strings to their bow if they have an architect as part of their project. All of our clients are thrilled with the results at the end of the day – which is great to hear when you’ve spent two or three years with a client. They still have such high opinions of you at the end of the process, value everything that you’ve done for them along the way, and say that they’re living in the house for two years and still finding surprises that they didn’t know we had designed for them; that’s really rewarding to get that type of feedback from clients, that they enjoy what we have been able to provide and work with them to achieve.”
Following their many prosperous years as a client-focused home design service within the residential market – along with some commercial work – Schulberg Demkiw Architects hopes to expand their possibilities into other industry markets to ensure further success. “What we haven’t really tapped into is the area of medium and high-density housing,” says Schulberg. “We’ve had some prospects of that this year, and we may be heading down that path within the next year or so; there is obviously an abundance of that out in the marketplace, but we feel that there’s still a niche market for that higher-end type of work. So, that’s something we’re hoping to capture, spread our wings into that area, and diversify a little bit from what we’ve been doing. We believe that the skills and knowledge we have from years of experience in the custom design area can extend into that type of marketplace as well. That’s what we’re hoping to do over the next year or two with the business and the future.”