He may joke that he “gets paid to draw pretty pictures all day”, but Michal Kurtis, our senior designer, takes his residential design responsibilities very seriously. With a degree in architecture and more than 20 years experience under his belt, the self-confessed “modernist” loves working with styles old and new.
“I am a modernist at heart, but I absolutely love seeing well-crafted and philosophically sound examples of any style of home. That’s what I believe people recognise when they talk about timeless architecture,” Michal says. “A great home – that has been well thought out and is true to its design principles in its detailing – will be forever awesome.”
Born and bred in Perth, Michal, whose parents were post-war migrants from Poland, enjoyed an “idyllic Brady bunch” upbringing, with long days spent playing around Woodlands with his mates. Michal’s dad was a senior master of art and his mum, who worked in accounting before Michal, and his brother and sister came along, has always loved painting, drawing and baking.
“There was always something creative being brought home for the holidays, from canvas and paints, to jewellery-making equipment, a photographic lab and a potter’s wheel,” Michal says.
Today, the creativity continues with a new generation of Kurtis kids sharing their parents’ passion for creative pursuits such as photography and art.
“While my teenage girls are both much more creative than I could ever be, I can honestly say everything interests me,” Michal says. “I’m genuinely curious and thirsty for knowledge. I still like to draw and paint, either with old-school brush and paper, pen and ink, or electronically on the computer. Photography is fun, especially the post processing, creative picture making. And I love to travel; there’s nothing better than going to another country, walking around and being mistaken for a local. That said, my quiet place is Down South in the Great Southern Region of WA; I just love it there.”
So was Michal always destined to study architecture?
“Designer was one of the many, many careers I wanted to pursue,” he laughs. “Others were graphic art, which I got into at uni, geology, which I also got into at uni, and teaching art and social science, which I completed a year of. Having said that, the best thing I ever did was to defer university for a few years and experience working life in the public service in the State Crown Law Office. It was a big ‘growing-up’ experience!”
After finishing his degree in architecture at Curtin University, Michal landed a role in residential design and hasn’t looked back since.
“It’s wonderful to be able to use that knowledge of architecture and the skill set I acquired during my degree to produce individually crafted homes with great care and consideration,” he says. “I like pretty well every aspect of residential design, from meeting clients and getting to know them as friends, to developing up the concept sketches for their new home. And yes, I still use old school pen and paper! I do also love using the technology of CAD (computer aided design) to produce a realistic interpretation of the concepts.
“But I’m most satisfied when I can see the joy on my clients’ faces when they see the finished product and get to live in, and enjoy life in, their new home. I’m very proud to contribute to the look and feel of a growing city. Yes, I do take the responsibility very seriously. The challenge I like most is to deliver a home that is specific to the individual client; a home that expresses their lives and aspirations – with a little of my personality thrown in. Just a dash; like a well-seasoned dish.”