In conversation with Davidov Architects

Image of architecture

Robert Davidov on Material, Memories, and Modern Design

16 April 2024

This week, we spoke to Robert Davidov, founder and principal of the award-winning Davidov Architects based in Melbourne. The studio, known for its understated yet warm aesthetic, has gained recognition for projects ranging from private residences to multi-residential developments. Below, Davidov shares insights into the firm's design philosophy, material choices, and the inspirations that shape their work. 

Can you describe the design philosophy and core principles that guide Davidov Architects? 

We see ourselves as both an architecture and design studio, so there is always conscious consideration given to developing a cohesive body of work across disciplines. In terms of architecture, we are interested in crafting work that is robust but also familiar and cinematic. Ambience is important to us. This approach tends to inform our other design endeavours. 

Your practice has gained recognition for an understated aesthetic using refined material palettes. What informs your material choices, and how do you create a sense of warmth in a space? 

We consider materials that allow us to achieve several aims. Of course, the materials need to be durable and age sympathetically, but beyond the practical, what interests us is the way materials and their usage hold a deeper resonance. The concept of nostalgia is one that interests us for various reasons, as it helps us imagine a space across time. 

Travel seems to be a significant source of inspiration for your work. Can you share some specific places or experiences that have left a lasting impact on your design approach? 

Travel would certainly be my greatest indulgence. I have been a keen traveller all my life, but more recently travel generally revolves around visiting architecture, be it ancient or modern. Some highlights have been exploring the architecture of Luis Barragan in Mexico City, as well as wandering through the ruins of the Temple of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt. The key to architectural travel is to allow enough time to feel settled in a place in a way that allows you, once back home, to transport yourself back to that moment and place. 

Considering the wide range of project types you take on, from private residences to multi-residential developments, how do you adapt your design process to meet the unique needs of each commission? 

Our design process relies on a balance between innovation and refinement. This inherently means that each project is unique, unique to the site and unique to the client’s brief, but we are not drawn to innovation simply for innovation’s sake. Innovation carries risk, so where we can, we draw upon and evolve our existing design ‘language’ to deliver designs that are tailored to every client. 

Your Circle|Square stool for the MPavilion 10 Chair Commission 2023 has been praised for its striking simplicity. Can you give us some insight into the design concept and process behind this piece? 

Our design for the Circle|Square stool was designed as a direct response to the architecture of MPavilion10 designed by Tadao Ando. 

As a design office, we have a strong affinity with the pure geometries and robust materials for which Ando is renowned, and it was an interesting challenge to create a design that both complemented and contributed to his design. 

As the principal of Davidov Architects, what does a typical day in your life look like? 

A day in the studio typically involves touching base with the team, a site visit to a project under construction, and ideally, dedicated time to spend on a current design challenge or presentation. 

What does the future hold for Davidov Architects? Are there any exciting new directions, collaborations, or types of projects you're looking to explore in the near future? 

Currently, on the horizon, we are looking forward to the completion of a couple of private homes of which we are incredibly proud. We have a few special projects currently in the various stages of design and approval in Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula. Apart from that, we have a few multi-residential projects coming out of the ground this month and some other interesting collaborations with various manufacturers and interior designers.