Multitudes is the somewhat elusive title of design firm Hassell’s new monograph. The title alludes to the multi-disciplinary nature of the architectural practice; which has just reached its 75th birthday, having established its first office in Adelaide in 1938. The title may also refer to the general population who encounter Hassell’s work in their daily lives, and for whom the firm predominately design for.
The multitudes may not know Hassell by name but they may work in one of their award winning office buildings such as the ANZ centre in Melbourne’s Docklands, check-in at their Qantas Domestic lounge in Sydney, chowed down at their food truck Chasing Kitsune, or hung out at the Urban Coffee Farm and Brew Bar during this year’s Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. They may even have voted in the Flinders Street Station redevelopment competition, which Hassell, along with Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron, ultimately won.
Multitudes considers the firm’s growth from a single office in Adelaide to one of the world’s largest design firms over the past 75 years. The book takes an oblique approach to the traditional design monograph, incorporating a number of different contributors’ essays on design and complementing these with a selection of works from the firm’s portfolio. The result is an architecture monograph that offers multiple perspectives and insights rather than an introverted catalogue of works. It is a manifestation of the firm’s approach, which disavows top-down design in favour of collaborative, multi-disciplinary intelligence.
The cloth-bound volume reflects the firm’s obsession with design, being a beautiful object itself. However, if you can’t find space for a physical copy on your shelf, Hassell are carrying their democratic approach to design in to the publishing realm, offering a free digital e-zine with articles from the book and additional content over the coming months.