In Conversation with Michael Lumby


As the inventive mind and humble heart behind ML-A, Michael Lumby crafts the essence of elevated modern simplicity in his designs. Michael’s journey began in South Africa and has recently seen him making a name for himself in the Australian architecture industry. Sharing snippets of this journey, he talks us through the art of collaboration, the designers that drive him, and the environments that help stimulate and manifest creativity.

Your project Merricks Farmhouse, on which you collaborated with Nielsen Jenkins, is an Australian award-winning masterpiece. How did the project come to be?

The clients were based between Cape Town and Melbourne, and via word of mouth and some luck, they gave me the chance to have a crack at a design for their new forever house. They loved it, so I teamed up with Nielsen Jenkins in Australia (we were friends after meeting 5 years earlier) to assist me in delivering the project. This was a massive opportunity for me and big step up in terms of budget – the project was halfway around the world, so there was a lot of newness and nerves floating around!

My favourite view in the house is the one from the back wing, through the courtyard, and then through the kitchen to the ocean. The slight level change allows a view down towards the landscape, and the building frames it perfectly. It was great to see it develop on site and culminate into this.


Is there an architect, local or international, that has influenced or inspired your practice throughout your career?

Early on in my career I was quite influenced by the works of John Pawson, particularly his own townhouse in London. It opened my eyes to how smart planning, attention to detail, and design rigour can result in minimal and restrained spaces. For the past few years I’ve really enjoyed the work of Harquitectes, a Spanish firm that always has really inspiring approaches to layout, structure, sustainability, and materiality, often on a tight budget.

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If you could give your younger self one piece of career advice, what would it be?

Don’t take yourself too seriously; enjoy and learn.

What type of environment stimulates your creativity the most? Where do you do your best thinking?

I’ve been swimming for exercise for about twenty years now. With all the stimuli that surrounds and distracts us day-to-day, I find the repetitive nature of laps underwater to be quite meditative, and I often emerge with new ideas for projects I’m wrestling with. I think the key is toalways be open to new ideas, whether you’re sketching in a notebook or behind a screen working on a seemingly mundane construction detail – there is opportunity everywhere.

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What’s on the cards for this year that you’re most excited about?

I have a few projects starting on site in SA this year, so I’m looking forward to doing some work back home again!

This article is an extract from our April volume, click here to read the follow volume!

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