London, United Kingdom
Masdar City, Abu Dhabi
Auckland, New Zealand
New York, New York
I am an Interior Designer based in the Woods Bagot Auckland studio. Originally from the Rangitikei region of New Zealand, Auckland, Melbourne and London have all been home to me at different times.
People and the way in which we organise ourselves into societies holds an ongoing fascination to me, and is a constant motivator to get out and experience different places and cultures.
My practice endeavours to allow connections between a space and it’s occupant – for the design to evoke emotion, even if unconsciously.
What does #EmbraceEquity mean to you?
Let’s face it – systemic and institutional racial and gender inequality is still a huge factor in day to day life for so many women. However, it’s great to see that the conversation is moving from equality to equity, which very importantly takes into account the fact that in their life, not every woman has the same opportunities, faces the same barriers, or has access to the same resources to overcome the effects of that inequality.
Personally, I think it’s a good reminder that although I have faced discrimination as a woman, I also hold unconscious bias towards others. Being aware of that and working to overcome it is important because how can we expect others to change if we’re not willing to do the work ourselves? I also find that when I feel overwhelmed and a little hopeless at the glacial pace of change, focusing on the change that are within my control helps.
Can you tell us about your experience working in the architecture and design industry, especially on a global scale?
I came to this industry later in life so don’t have as much experience in design as other people my age, especially on a global scale. There’s still plenty of time for that though, and Woods Bagot is definitely the right place to be to find those opportunities.
Woods Bagot Auckland studio team at the Model Citizens event for Auckland Architecture Week 2022.
Charlotte Smith at the Architect’s Regatta with the W-B team, 2023.
“It’s great to see that the conversation is moving from equality to equity, which very importantly takes into account the fact that in their life, not every woman has the same opportunities, faces the same barriers, or has access to the same resources to overcome the effects of that inequality.”
If you could give advice to anyone, especially young women, looking into a similar field or career path, what would you give?
I would tell them not to hesitate. This industry can take you to all sorts of places that you never would have imagined (both literally and figuratively). Even if you come to realize that you don’t want to stay in design, there are so many pathways and related fields that only really become apparent once you enter the industry. You will also meet a lot of really interesting people who will enrich, challenge and inspire your journey.
What would you say to your younger self?
There is so much advice I would give to a younger version of myself! Primarily to live more courageously. Say yes to more things. Listen to yourself more and others less, nobody is all that worried about what you’re doing anyway. Also, don’t be in too much of a hurry to figure life out – you’re allowed to do it your own way, in your own time, however it suits you best.
Model Citizens Auckland event, photographed by Jihwan Jeon.
To reach out to Charlotte Smith, get in touch here.
Stay tuned for more stories celebrating women leading the way in the architecture & design industry, groundbreaking projects and celebrating #EmbraceEquity for International Women’s Day.
22 Mar 23
14 Mar 23