Designer in the Spotlight – Kirsty Duncan

Kirsty Duncan started her design journey 30 years ago as a Graphic Designer. She now holds qualifications in Graphic Design, Business and Marketing, Colour and Design, and Kitchen and Bathroom Design, and has managed to meld all her skills into the successful design business, Bearcanvas Interiors based in Brisbane. Starting up 7.5 years ago, Bearcanvas Interiors offer services in 3D Concept Rendering, Bathroom Design, Kitchen Design, Full Home Interior Design, Colour Consulting, Feng Shui Design, Spatial Planning and Furniture Selection.

Beginning as a Graphic Designer, she worked in advertising and marketing for over 20 years. Kirsty found herself itching to return to her design roots and get her hands dirty again doing what she loves. After attending a small workshop put on by a design college she had found her new career direction, as she realised that the principles of design were transferrable to Interior Design.

Kirsty had always loved the renovation sector having completed a few small renovations of her own. She honed her styling skills working part time with a property staging company whilst completing a Certificate IV in Colour and Design.  After working for a short period in the property staging arena she felt it wasn’t for her.  She looked at all the different areas of the home and could see that kitchens and bathrooms were spaces clients really struggled with as it is a large investment in their home.

She extended her design skills doing a 3D SketchUp course with Designer Training Australia (DTA). This opened her eyes to just how much there was to learn about kitchens and bathrooms, and she took the plunge and enrolled in a Certificate IV in Kitchen and Bathroom Design with DTA. She has not looked back and says that Bathrooms are her real joy where she thrives on the fact that there so many trades working in unison with each other to execute something amazing.

Kirsty’s flair for design and detailed documentation have paid off and she has been both a winner and multiple finalist in the HIA & IDA Interior Design and Decorate Awards and is currently a finalist in the KBDi Kitchen and Bathroom Design Awards.

We asked her a few questions to find out more about her and how she works as a designer.

How do you stay up to date with current trends?

With a marketing/advertising background I am fascinated by what drives a trend.  I follow organisations like Scarlet Opus, WGSN and MC&Co who do amazing trend forecasting for global brands based on the data they collect. They identify not just the key colours and patterns, but materials, shapes, styles and products that will be in demand by consumers in future seasons.  It’s interesting how so many facets of society, culture and social science affect what will be ‘in’ this season and the next year. They are an amalgamation of fashion, consumers changing needs, previous season’s trends, popular culture, current affairs, architecture, world events like the pandemic or war, economic patterns and so much more.  

I also watch social media to see how these forecasts start playing out as it is also a huge source of information for what people like and dislike, and so many trends have begun and ended right there. 

What is the most challenging part of your job?

As a small business it’s the administration that consumes so much time.  I am always trying to develop new ways of streamlining or creating systems that create efficiencies.  And it is not just the business administration, it is also the client administration because this attention to detail will keep your projects running smoothly.

Do you have a signature style or favourite trend?

No, I don’t think I do have a style, as I have learnt that behavioural design follows functional design. Behaviour in the way the client lives, then creates the brief for the design.  By taking a client’s personality, likes and dislikes and the way they move about their day, I’ll then then develop concepts to ensure the spaces are not only comfortable and functional, but of course, aesthetically pleasing. My aim is to create spaces that are unique to each client. No two people are exactly alike, so I believe no two designs should look the same either.

Do you have a favourite project or project you are extra proud of?

I am super proud of all my work to date, but I must admit there are some projects whereby the clients have put trust in being stretched outside their comfort zone or have not been afraid to use colour.  One particular project won an interior design award with the Housing Industry Association and has just been short listed as a finalist in the Kitchen and Bathroom Designers Institute awards.  This was a bathroom that neede some out-of-box thinking out of the box and involved consulting with engineers to work out structurally how far we could push the design.  The client’s heart was set on having a free-standing bath and the existing size of the room was not capable to make this work.  So, by understanding her likes or dislikes on integrating the toilet into the bathroom we removed the wall between the separate toilet room and existing bathroom to enlarge the footprint of the space we were working with.  We were dealing with a 40+ year old brick apartment building so there was also some juggling with plumbing that was solved with good communication and problem solving with trades. This had to all happen before the pretty stuff was finalised.

What keeps you inspired to be creative for your clients?

I love the problem solving and seeing clients come on the journey with excitement when they feel like what you are proposing was exactly what they wanted in their head all along but couldn’t articulate it.

Her number one tip for aspiring designers?

Do your research with your suppliers and with your trades because every project has the best outcome with collaboration.

Kirsty has designed some stunning kitchens and bathrooms and has an eye for using contrasting colours and textures in her spaces. Here are some of her recent projects. Or see more of her work here.

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