Member success story:

DesignOffice

 

Mark Simpson and Damien Mulvhill

DesignOffice

A creative studio with human-centered design at its core.

When it comes to finding inspiration for their work, the duo behind DesignOffice agree that nothing is more powerful than human experience.

Mixing work and friendship is always a risk – but for Mark Simpson and Damien Mulvhill, it’s one that’s certainly paid off. After striking up a rapport while they were working in London 17 years ago, the two recognised their shared interest and a design aesthetic that’s shaped by human experiences.

They resonate with the phrase ‘human-centred design’; relating to both their design psychology, as well as Damien and Mark’s personal philosophy of putting their team and clients at the forefront of everything they do.

In 2008, this joint passion inspired the pair to establish their own Australian architectural and interior practice: DesignOffice. And they've been able to retain their passion and focus, thanks to the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card, which helps keep their business nimble.

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“We both have backgrounds that encompass architecture and interior design, so we also enjoy working in the space in-between,” explains Mark. “We tend to look at experiences, buildings and places holistically... for us, it’s about looking at a problem and solving it through design.”

DesignOffice’s portfolio is diverse to say the least, with projects ranging from progressive co-working spaces and beautifully crafted inner-city apartments, to high-end restaurants, retail showrooms and strategic urban activation.

Since 2018, Damien and Mark have found the secret to making the most of their business: the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card. “We opted for that Card because we realised we could use it to pay our tax, and earn Qantas Points.” With the Card they were able to earn up to 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on ATO and BAS payments1.

“Having a Card that supported us was great. We’ve used points to book flights2 for ourselves and our team, as we always choose to fly Qantas. And we enjoy using the lounge facilitieswhen we travel too.”

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While many of the spaces they’ve designed can be experienced in Melbourne – where DesignOffice is based – other projects have taken the team further afield, both interstate and overseas.

“Generally speaking, travel has always been a big part of our lives in terms of design research… it’s what inspires us,” Damien elaborates. “Being in a new place gives us a sense of renewed curiosity, where we can observe and experience in a different way — going to an art gallery or restaurant in another city or country, seeing how people use space. That teaches us a lot and, actually, we get a lot of ideas and do some of our best thinking when travelling.”

When safe to do so, Mark and Damien also make the effort to meet their interstate clients in person. Thanks to the Card, they can earn up to 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent on Qantas products and services1 and use those points to upgrade on flights.

“It’s also about being there on the ground. It’s important to us that we meet our clients face-to-face whenever we can, and to be working onsite alongside the builders and craftspeople. We have a number of clients interstate, particularly in Sydney, and we choose to travel rather than have Mark or myself set up a second office. It’s an unusual move but it’s because we like to work together on everything we do. That’s our dynamic,” says Damien.

Of course, travel has been limited recently – and DesignOffice has had to be nimble and find different ways to move forward. “The Card helped us to stay connected remotely as a creative team as we rethought our processes during lockdown,” says Mark. “We had to invest in new technology for our design team, and the Card gave us the financial flexibility to do that. We were even able to order what we needed directly through the Qantas Store, and have it delivered straight to their houses.” Thanks to the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card, DesignOffice was able to earn up to 1.25 Qantas Points1 on everyday business expenses to utilise as they wanted. “We’ve also used points as a way of saying thank you to the team,” explains Damien.

And there’s little doubt how important their work is to the DesignOffice founders. “It’s not a job to us. We’re always thinking about and refining our designs, even when we’re away from the studio,” Mark shares. Whether the DesignOffice duo is working at home or roaming the world, the Card helps enhance the experience. “It helps us streamline our expenditure, so we can keep our minds on what’s important,” explains Mark. Damien agrees: “We thrive off freedom and flexibility. The Card helps us stay nimble, so we can focus on the spaces we create — and the people we design them for.” 

Their top small business tips?

  • Put People First

    “We made a pact years ago to only work with people we like. To care about our work and actually enjoy doing it. And we really do love what we do,” says Mark. “Employ people who are better than you at the things that they’re doing.”

     

  • Built For The Long Haul

    “We want to enjoy doing the work while being sustainable as a business. That means financially sustainable too. It’s not about scale or profit — it’s about doing work we’re proud of.” says Mark.

     

Make the Card your secret to success

Earn 120,000 bonus Qantas Points4 for your business when you apply for the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card by 12 January 2022 and spend $3,000 within the first two months. New American Express Card Members only. T&Cs apply.

American Express approval criteria applies. Subject to Terms and Conditions. Fees and charges apply. All information is correct as at 7 October 2021 and is subject to change. This offer is only available to those who reside in Australia. Cards are offered, issued, and administered by American Express Australia Limited (ABN 92 108 952 085). ®Registered Trademark of American Express Company. A $450 annual Card fee applies.

1 A business must be a Qantas Business Rewards Member to earn Qantas Points for business. Membership and the earning of Qantas Points as a business are subject to the Qantas Business Rewards Terms and ConditionsOpens external site. Points are earned in accordance with and subject to the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card Points Terms and ConditionsOpens external site. Your business will earn 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 of everyday spend, which does not include annual fees, late payment fee and fees and charges for foreign currencies. Your business will earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent at participating merchants classified as "utilities" including gas, water and electricity providers; "government" including the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Postal Corporation, federal/state and local government bodies; and "insurance" excluding insurances offered by American Express. Industry specific earn rate may apply when you use a payment account, payment aggregator, services of a third party or online retailers that sell goods for another merchant. For example a payment made to Local Government bodies processed through a payment aggregator may earn rates at the government earn rate. Your business will earn 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent on the following Qantas Products and Services purchased on the Qantas merchant account (i.e. directly from Qantas): Qantas passenger flights (with a QF flight number), Qantas Holidays, Qantas Branded non-airfare products, and Qantas Frequent Flyer and Qantas Club membership joining and annual fees. Excludes Jetstar. For the full list of exclusions, please refer to the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card Points Terms and ConditionsOpens external site.

2 You must be a Qantas Frequent Flyer member to earn Qantas Points. A joining fee may apply. Membership and Qantas Points are subject to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program Terms and Conditions. Qantas Points and Status Credits (where applicable) are earned on eligible flights with a Qantas or applicable oneworld® Alliance Airline or Airline Partner flight number on your ticket. Qantas Points and Status Credits may not be earned on some fare types and booking classes. See terms and conditions and the Airline Earning Tables for details on the conditions for the applicable airline.

3 Provided the Primary Card Member is a Qantas Frequent Flyer member and has registered their Qantas Frequent Flyer number with your business' American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card, your business is eligible to receive two Qantas Club Lounge Invitations each anniversary year of Card Membership once your business makes an Eligible Qantas Purchase on your American Express Card during that year. Eligible Qantas Purchases are Qantas passenger airfares with a QF flight number purchased directly from Qantas Australia that appear on your Card statement, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Business Rewards or Qantas Club membership, joining or annual fees. Excludes purchases from Jetstar. Within 1-2 weeks of the Eligible Qantas Purchase, two Qantas Club Lounge Invitations will be assigned to the Qantas Frequent Flyer account nominated by the business. Visit the Complimentary Invitations Portal to access invitations, link it with an eligible Qantas flight booking or find out more information. Qantas Club Lounge Invitations are valid for a single visit by one guest to a Qantas Club Lounge and must be used prior to their expiry. Invitations are subject to the Qantas Club terms and conditions and are not valid for Qantas International First Class Lounges, the Qantas Chairman's Lounge, Qantas Domestic Business and or oneworld® alliance partner or associated lounges. Qantas Club Invitations cannot be carried forward to any subsequent year and must not be sold, they may only be transferred as allowed by Qantas. Invitations may be revoked or withheld if your business' American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card account is not in good standing, if the Eligible Qantas Purchase is refunded in full or if you have not complied with these Qantas Club Invitation Conditions, the Credit Card Terms and ConditionsOpens external site or the Qantas Club Lounge Access Terms and Conditions.

4 120,000 bonus Qantas Points: Offer only available to new American Express Card Members who apply by 12 January 2022, are approved and spend $3,000 on their new Card in the first two (2) months from the Card approval date. Card Members who currently hold or who have previously held any other Card product issued by American Express Australia Limited in the preceding 18 month period are ineligible for this offer. 120,000 bonus Qantas Points will be awarded to the eligible Card Member's Account 8-10 weeks after the spend criteria has been met. $450 annual fee applies. This advertised offer is not applicable or valid in conjunction with any other advertised or promotional offer. Subject to the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card Points Terms and Conditions of the Membership Rewards Program available at American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card Points Terms and ConditionsOpens external site.

We acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work, live and fly. ​
We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.