5 Ways Creative Leaders Can Learn From Architects

By Nadja Sayej

What can we learn from architects, who seem to take sketches of squares and turn them into skyscrapers? André Tavares, the curator of the Lisbon Architecture Triennial which opens October 5, offers some insight. Tavares is an architect, curator, book author and editor of the Dafne architecture journal. Here, he sheds some light on what goes on inside the mind of the architect—specifically how architects help transform our cities and how we can slow down to create better ideas. Here are five tips according to Tavares on how creative leaders can learn from architects, be it building a business or a brand.

1. Ask better questions.

The only way to get to better answers is to simply ask better questions, both to yourself and your colleagues. “Architecture is not about the creation of newness but rather about the fulfillment of needs and expectations,” Tavares said. “Architects are problem solvers. The better the question they ask, the better the answer can be. Everyone has to ask better questions.”

2. Think before you build

Building ideas, building a brand and building a business can be similar to building an actual building. But just as the construction process can be lengthy, so can the planning time that leads to actually breaking soil. “From its inception to completion and use, every construction requires a tremendous amount of physical and intellectual energy to be conceived and executed,” he said. “If we are not clever and conscious about the way in which such energy is used, the results can be proportionally devastating. That is why, instead of increasing the pace of doing, one should invest more and more in design and conception, making the best use of existing knowledge. It seems to be the only way to spare the scarce resources of our planet.”

3. Balance short-term with long-term.

Not every idea or project should be long-term, neither should they be short-term, and for a good reason. “Often, the process is way more important than the final result, but the final result is what remains,” Tavares said. “One must take the best advantage of construction and its capacity to drive change in the short-term, but we should not forget that buildings can last for a long time.”

4. Architecture is a type of knowledge.

Not every architect designs the obvious, their design thinking and knowledge can be applied everywhere. “Even when not designing, the knowledge of architecture can be used in even the most different situations,” he said. “There are always architectural terms to address reality, from technical and objective matters to large scale social and territorial problems, from construction to urbanism, from psychology to economy. The broad nature of architectural knowledge is a precious asset that should not be destroyed by the current trend in overspecialization.”

5. Building is an act of violence; beauty is the way to make it worthy.

Architecture can be a huge challenge and a lot of complications come along with it. Putting up a new building can disturb locals, destroy neighborhoods and create gentrification. A new creative leader in a field can also create disruption. “To build is so violent that one has to make it beautiful, both in its process as in its form,” Tavares said.

Nadja Sayej is a journalist with The Berlin School of Creative Leadership and author of The ArtStars* Guide to Getting Your S*** Together.


UPSTAIRS on Bree was designed by us with the goal of creating a large open space that would dramatize the art on display in the gallery as well as fit the profile of a New York, Urban Style space.

The venue is now used for a range of events and the interior is well-suited for all occasions, for example the latest event on offer, BusyBees@Bree is an avant-garde "art-invasion”, aimed at creating awareness of the desperate state and decline of the bee population, and the potential devastating impact on the environment and agriculture in South Africa and the rest of the world.

The exhibition, officially launches in March 2018, pop in at the gallery this First Thursday for a first look at what will be on offer

We love seeing spaces we designed being put to such great use!


Design for Change

Architectural Design, amongst all other types, has the ability to be "life-changing" and better yet, able to change the world. Many designers often focus on aesthetic features and generating some form of income.

Design falls into two categories: aesthetic design and problem-solving design, although problem-solving design can still be aesthetically pleasing. 

Aesthetic Design

This refers to how we think and feel about a product or design. The first impression plays a big role here when something is nice to look at therefore aesthetically pleasing. A common example of aesthetic design is certain high heels and their visually appealing style, opposing to the endless pain women go through wearing them. As someone once said, "beauty is pain!" 

Below are the three categories of aesthetics:

Visual Aesthetics

This is visually appealing design consisting of elements such as colour, pattern, shape, balance and texture. Humans are very visual therefore designers often aim to create things that are beautiful and nice to look at.  

Material Aesthetics

These are the materials used in the design with elements such as texture, weight, comfort and shape. This refers to the sleek design of the new watch you just bought or your new jacket that you shouldn't have bought, but couldn't resist. 

Sound Aesthetics

This refers to the sounds of the design. For example comparing two different speakers. Another example is the start of the engine of a car. You will hear the difference of sound. 

Problem-Solving Design

In order to solve problems with any form of design, you need to have a strong understanding of whats happening around you. Following social media, the news and conducting research can help gain some insight. Some of the main topics to target with design (for change) are:


In the past, designers have creatively approached homelessness with design strategies to supply shelter and housing. How can you as a designer approach this? 

Natural Disasters   

Think of ways to act after a disaster. For example, there was an earthquake resistant school designed in Thailand. Prevent fires by designing communities surrounded by fire breaks. 


How can we conserve the planet with design? Think green design, recycling, sustainability. Solar powered designs have become a very effective approach. 


Crime is a global issue. Architectural design can be utilized to create safer environments. Cities can be designed in ways that are better for surveillance. 

Think bigger remember that your idea could change someone else's life. Collaborate with other designers and address social/environmental issues. Create projects. Design for change. 

Written by Tarryn Hardwicke

Creating your own style

Developing your own style through design is a journey and isn't something that happens immediately. It comes naturally and over time. As an artist, it can be highly beneficial to have your own signature style. One needs to always ask, who are you designing for? Understanding your client's needs is vital. In this article, we discuss creating your own style and the style of a Wildetect. 


When it comes to aesthetics, creating something magnificent can be a great way to express your style. A style begins when a concept, an idea. One can go wild with multiple techniques and styles. Experimenting is key and finding what works for you as an individual. A style should never be forced. It comes from an idea that has been developed. When one has developed a style, it is important to keep an open mind. There will be times requiring you to adapt and adjust to other circumstances such as designing for certain clients.    


Creating a style is a continuous process as well as an individual journey for each artist. The challenge is staying interested and focused throughout the way and pushing one's skills to the maximum. Each artist has their own journey and reflects it in their work often creating a style. We are able to reflect our environment and personal experiences.

Art is a communication of whats going on in one's head, better known as a language. Wildetecture is all about creating an individual artistic identity within an African continent setting. A reflection of Africa's flora and fauna environments. The cultural heritage is also significant in Wildetecture designs.

An artist is always growing and improving - the journey is life-long. Cherish it.  

Written by Tarryn Hardwicke



House Bain

The Bain family approached us through a suggestion from their son who was a student of Quinton J Damstra, founder of Wildetecture. Initially, we met at their home in Baronetcy. They had recently acquired a corner plot in the same estate and were eager to get started on their new home. 

From the beginning, we could see they were not new to the building industry with direct course and influence on what they wanted to achieve. The brief had specs and was great to work through, as it is sometimes very difficult if the client has no direction.

After looking at the unique sloped site we began with our design concept, terracing the levels to use the slope as an advantage to grab the most beautiful views. The house was orientated and rooms were opened on to the mountains doorstep.



Cubist was our approach - pulling the design to create drama on to the mountain. We broke the levels and elevations to create drama and stance - we pushed for the wild but kept in budget by leaving suitable overhangs and cornered pillar supports, we struck rectangular cubes out of the earth and speared them towards the sky, and then gave them inspired detail, mixing raw concrete finishes with pale whites and dark greys. Even the boundary wall levelled along the sweeping slope in stages. The bottom entrance approach creates an overpowering facade, and then once entering the home you look back in awe as table mountain unveils its striking presence and you are left with only the mountain and sky as you lay in your lounger while the breeze pulls the coolness off the pool and over the deck into the living areas which are opened up by large stacker doors. The space creates a relaxed environment for the family and friends.

The client loved it from the get go, with a few minor iterations, we were ready to go. Client had already sourced his building team, and was really involved and close to project.  

Through the design one always had a sense of family unity, the place was designed so family and friends could easily visit and stay over. Entertainment areas with a pool and breathtaking views of table mountain.

This massive 600M square house has a self-sustaining granny flat. Parking for 8 vehicles, pool, terraced garden with koi pond, private guest room and bathroom with own entrance, flatlet, gym, large entertainment areas - open plan kitchen, stacked verandas, indoor braai with panoramic views onto table mountain - uninterrupted with their unique corner plot along Baronetcy Estate boundary.

It has been a pleasure designing the Bain families dream home, and we look forward to the final result.  




Sustainability and art-chitecture

...and does it change the nature of architecture?

What is sustainable architecture and what is its purpose? Sustainable architecture aims to reduce the effect of buildings on the environment through moderating the use of materials, energy and overall use of space while also taking the future generation into consideration and creating a greener, more sustainable future for society while still creating a paragon! 

Human health and the environment (present and future) drive architects towards sustainable design. Architecture differs now during the 21st century than it did in the past. Technology is advancing at a rapid pace which benefits architects enormously when it comes to sustainability. 

The two topics under discussion today are, does building in a sustainable manner affect the true art in architecture? Here we look at wasteful buildings vs sustainable buildings and whether in today's society, waste can be viewed as distasteful. Secondly, we look at the various ways an architect can go greener. 

There are many debates over whether sustainable architecture shows its true colours when it comes down to an artistic perspective. Then again, as the world evolves, so does society, and as we evolve so do our views. Perspectives change the way in which we see and feel about certain things due to certain circumstances, such as pollution etc. Sustainable design, done effectively, has the ability to better the future, therefore this is something truly beautiful.

Sustainable design starts with the conscious decision for change.   

Use of recycled materials 

Reduce the use of volatile organic compounds - Non-toxic materials

Use local materials/sources

Bear in mind energy use and pollution

Integrate vegetation into structures

Make use of natural sources such as sun, wind, and energy

Urban gardens

Building placement - structure it around peoples everyday lives

Waste management on site

Solar panels, wind turbines, solar water heating

Designing buildings that encourage natural light and/or air flow

In conclusion, each day designers are initiating fresh ideas and the future looks promising. The design world has boundless possibilities. This article is merely a conjecture. We at Wildetecture like to think that designs for the 21st century cater for eco-friendly building practices and functional space usage. 

Written by Tarryn Hardwicke

Brought together through architecture

Architecture speaks a strong language. Each step of the process has meaning and is interpreted differently by each individual, much like poetry. There is certainly more to architecture than just it's pretty face. It impacts on society, their emotions and experiences. It transforms and fixes and then there's the environmental side which is a whole 'nother story but we will get to that later on.

Today we look at how it can divide and how it can bring together. These are two exceptionally powerful actions depending on how they are applied and under what circumstances. Lets go into a little more detail shall we? 

The world is always a better place when society gets along and as architects if this can be achieved then, well, why not? The topic up for discussion is perimeter walls, lower boundary walls or no garden walls at all. 

It all started in the ancient times when walls were used for different purposes. Many cities surrounded themselves with enormous walls for protection. Walls were also built on the inside of cities dividing spaces that differed socially for example royalty. Lastly walls protected civilizations from wild animals.

If we look at civilization today, many of us are still hiding behind these big walls. Of course there are reasons such as the need for privacy or fear of crime, but it could also be viewed from a completely different perspective. Everything in this world has meaning and is psychologically interpreted by each individual in their own way. For example a wall separates one space from another as we all know but it also creates the feeling of exclusion, it divides society. A wall opposed to a fence has a completely different psychological effect on the mind, for instance one can see through it, giving one a sense of knowing what is on the other side. Walls are also built relating back to ancient times, for the feeling of protection. Notice the word "feeling" used in the previous sentence. This is mentioned because a wall creates a sense of safety but is really just privacy.  

Bring together...

Reduced boundary walls could create a greater sociability in a community which overall creates a tighter knit in society. Neighbourhoods would be inclined to bond and lookout for one another. Reduced boundaries and less build would do wonders for the environment. This is where nature can be utilized. Why not create your own "perimeter"? From trees or bushes to large rocks one can go wild.  

To conclude the topic, it is definitely a wild architectural view but the beauty of this industry is having the ability to explore perpetually.

Written by Tarryn Hardwicke








Warren Hoffman, brother of Wildetect Dean Hoffman, is fanatical about the industry he chose. He devotes himself to his work and most importantly, exudes passion and has a clear direction. He is currently a student in his fourth year of architectural studies at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). He played a huge role in inspiring Dean to begin studies at Academy of Inventive Design and Technology (IDT) during his times of studying draughting. 

Warren became encouraged to start studying architecture  during his draughting years when he met founder of Wildetecture, Quinton J Damstra. Quinton was Warren's architectural draughting lecturer at the time. Warren viewed him as a major mentor as Quinton supported him through his current and past processes through design and architecture with strong encouragement and belief in his abilities as a designer. Quinton approached the brothers with the idea of Wildetecture.

The two brothers joined Quinton on his journey and transformed Wildetecture from concept phase into reality. 

Warren is currently qualified as an architectural technologist and draughtsperson with his current studies leading him to his masters in architecture in the near future. His strong passion has led him to consider studying even further and exploring the fields of interior and industrial design so that he can grow into a fully fledged Wildetect with a vast array of qualifications in the design field in attempt to unite them all into the architectural field of work to create unique architecture that integrates these broad fields of design.

What inspires me is the very existence of space and the vast possibilities the space can become and how this can develop through human intervention and the unique personalities that one can experience through this.
— Warren Hoffman

Written by Tarryn Hardwicke









Quinton J Damstra, founder of Wildetecture which began in 2008, currently an examiner and moderator for the department of higher education and training while running his own design based drawing office and QJD since 1999. He designs homes, alterations, additions and furniture. He is also highly into art. Quinton is a strong believer that ones portfolio of artistic work is key and speaks higher volumes than anything else. Education is an advantage, but the talent and passion is in your blood. People want to see your work, conceptual sketches and most importantly, the end result. 

Wildetecture focusses on creating an artistic identity within an African continent setting. Africa has an energy that is unique and this gives artists the chance to go WILD! Art is a continuous active process of creating end product sketches. Quinton mentioned that it's important to stay focussed and love every moment throughout the process from start to finish. Then theres the question, do artists ever get to the point where they are happy with their work? 

There is a point where every artist asks “why am I doing this?” and it’s the personal answer to this that drives all artists forward into the abyss.
— Quinton J Damstra

Arabella, near Cape Town, where we view two beautiful houses designed by architect, Quinton J Damstra. As the 2 homes are principally holiday homes the main thrust was to create space and luxury with a very tight budget.

"Always growing - Always improving"

Quinton is influenced by the third generation ideas from different continents. So it's not limited to immediate surroundings. It's the idea of global village influence that creates exciting artistic fusion opportunities. Each project is an experiment attempting the unknown. Tomorrows work will be an improvement of todays sketch. 

We are reflectors of our many experiences and each reflection is different because all journey’s are never the same.
— Quinton J Damstra

Written by Tarryn Hardwicke






Surrounded by the beauty of nature, Dean grew up on a farm just outside Philladelphia. He began building and creating at an early age, whether it be helping his dad with a go cart, or repairing his Honda Chappie. Inspired by nature, particularly birdlife, he took an interest in the weaver's nest - a parametric design that seemed 2D, yet created a unique concave shape. 

Growing up with a creative mind and spirit, he expressed his talent with street art. Struggling with direction, Dean went into Tourism and learnt about different the cultures and the world. This is when he made discoveries of different designs in each culture. 

After completing his Diploma in Tourism, he began working for his family business in steel manufacturing and design. He learnt fabrication skills and taught himself all the drawing programs, while simultaneously dealing with the business side of things. He then decided to further things and studied a BCom part time. 

After three years Dean wanted to explore even more, and after seeing his brothers work he enrolled at AIDT (Academy of Inventive Design and Technology) for Multidisciplinary draughting. Dean received the highest accolades in graduation and realised that he had found his niche in life. 

Quinton J Damstra, founder of Wildetecture as well as Dean's mentor, approached both Dean and his brother Warren Hoffman to join him on his journey with Wildetecture. At the time, the company was still a concept. They worked a further three years part time. 

During this period, Dean worked at a mining engineering firm, learning about structural design and engineering, processes and the harsh African climate. But his devotion was relentless, and he split his 16 hour day down the middle - engineer by day, and Wildetect by night.

Dean followed his passion in design and architecture and quit his job in engineering. He's never looked back. His work includes furniture design, interiors, product design, art and illustration, shoes, offshore diving equipment, large mine infrastructures and sculptural lighting. Although architecture is his main focus, with such a passion for design, anything can happen! 

Early in 2016 Dean designed an art gallery and event space in Bree Street and later became a partner with the space. Lets take a look at some of Deans highlights of the past three years:

  1. Viking Norse boat collection - A wild concept that got refined into a unique office furniture layout.
  2. Whale Chandelier - A lighting design for a winery on Garden Route
  3. Art Gallery on Bree Street (Upstairs on Bree) - Design and Execution 
  4. Scorpion Lamp - Featured in various publications worldwide. Unique crossover from nature to functional design.
  5. House Bain - House Schutte - Two new architectural homes currently under construction

Dean will be traveling to Berlin to find a crossover, develop the brand and infuse African with European. He plans to learn from their construction techniques too. He will be attending courses in Europe to develop a skill for parametric design and plans to create a strong African presence and pattern into this unique facade design. 

Theres a lot coming up, I’m only beginning to get into the groove now and I’m loving every second!
— Dean Hoffman

Written by Tarryn Hardwicke

What it means to be an ARCHITECT











Architects are dreamers. They have wild imaginations and unique minds. What makes a successful architect is one that has drive, passion and isn't afraid to be different.  It takes a certain type of person to pursue this occupation and heres why: 

Ambitious people are the ones that have a better chance of succeeding. Having drive and determination fuels your path to success. To be reliable shows that you respect your clients. Having compassion when conversing with clients is vital as you are turning their dream into a reality. An architect works hard to achieve their goals. Architects are innovative and come up with fresh and new ideas while exerting creativity and uniqueness. An architect has exceptional talent and grows more each and every day. To be experimental is to attempt the unknown and learn from mistakes. Architects are clever and extremely technical.  

One needs to have optimism, realism or even better - both. Believe in your ability, attempt the unknown, while being prepared for anything. Turning wild ideas into reality while effectively conquering functionality at the same time is talent. When it comes to design, its either in your blood or it's not, everybody was born with their purpose. One needs to be flexible and have the ability to juggle multiple projects at a time.

Most importantly, LOVE what you do. 

Written by Tarryn Hardwicke


Wildetect aesthetics versus practicality - thinkers and makers 2014

So the design debate rages - aesthetics versus practicality - wildetect 3 of 3 is  an absolute firm believer in aesthetics uber alles.

Which really means to sit on this yellow concept mantis chair sketch 003 is not at all comfortable. To get the aesthetics right first in the concept phase is the prime goal. And only then work in the functionality and comfort-ability is what this design exercise has been about. So mantis chair 003 is a concept chair - most designers don't showcase the development concepts as it shows the flaws - however in this case the warts and all is an important part of the dialogue of this piece. To comfort this sketch from here is not an impossibility. however to get the look right first,  comfort and functionality have taken a back seat. or no seat in this case.  I've never felt compelled to fully explain the intent - however now that the chair is getting more exposure - its important to explain the design rationale.  Its great to open up debate on an issue - so this chair in a small way - opens up this argument - design aesthetic versus design  practicality.

Hence the mantis has a note telling the would be sitter - danger aesthetic sketch - DONT SIT!!!   in this particular sketch its actually darn right life threateningly dangerous for a number of very valid reasons. as a designer i am fully aware of this glaring design fault.   ( tongue in cheek, to those design moguls who hooded eye feel your comfort in this sketch is even a concern of mine.)    if anyone has ever tried to sit on the shoulders of a Grecian sculpture. one might find the same sort of dangerous interaction.  sculpture has always occupied an aesthetic appeal -  unless of course you like wrapping yourself around cold marble. 

The first and foremost design point of departure of the wildetect mantis  has always been aesthetics. its a thinking out loud process - in a  consumer world that delivers end products to the public a dime a dozen - in this case this is a concept sketch to the public - with each chair improving aesthetics,  this is sketch 003.

For me, some design doesn't have to really tick all the boxes for the masses - and no this yellow mantis is not going to roll out into a sell-able , marketable every lounge furniture piece.  In fact i dont really want to sell a single one. This wildetect mantis chair design represents a sketch of my own thoughts and for my own reasons im very happy with it.

So aesthetics versus practicality?  for now im happy to sit on the side of the fence that ive staked my claim in.  who knows what direction my thoughts will take me tomorrow.  so in a nutshell - im fully aware of the mantis chair design faults - just as im aware im missing a tooth.  the thing is - i dont really mind much if the practicalities rip it to shreds. its already served its aesthetic purpose adequately. 
for the mean time - a mantis chair needs a person like a fish needs a bicycle. and that is all i have to say about that.

mantis (3).jpg