Meet the Designer, Hannah McVittie

Calibro Workspace Office Design and Fitout Northern Ireland - Meet the Designer - Hannah McVittie Why did you join Calibro?

Whilst some candidates are head-hunted I feel the reverse was true, I headhunted Calibro! After the best part of a decade in England I was looking to move home to be closer to family and to enjoy my home city again. When job hunting, Calibro very much stood out as thought leaders of workplace design across all of Ireland. With a growing portfolio and a bit of a construction boom in Belfast it was clear to see where Calibro were headed – and I wanted to be a part of it! On speaking to the team I saw an alignment between their values and approach and my own which made it seem like a good fit for all parties.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Every day is different and it’s very variable where I might be working on any given day. On days I work in the Belfast city centre office it starts with a coffee and cinnamon swirl. I work through a range of projects on any given day developing concepts, space-planning, meeting with clients and 3D modelling some projects in the pipeline. Other days I can be out visiting site and am frequently back and forth to Dublin – I enjoy getting the train down and using the time to catch up on some design homework – books, articles etc. Most days I’m in our Antrim HQ with the team where a lot of our collaboration takes place and we set out our goals for the day. It’s also home to the coffee machine and well-stocked fridge and larders, which doesn’t hurt.

What element of design are you most passionate about?

Sustainability is a passion for sure, we’re in an exciting time in our industry with the huge amount of innovation going on across furniture, flooring, textiles, you name it. The amount of work and creativity going into new products makes it feel like we’re very much at a pivotal point when it comes to sustainability in our industry with plenty of healthy competition driving this forward. Whilst it’s something that has been present for decades now, in the last few years it seems our mindset has moved to setting a minimum expectation of any product on how sustainable it is, how circular it is; it’s no longer a novelty or a gimmick, it’s an essential.

Is there a particular designer or design movement that you are particularly interested in?

At the moment it’s really anything and everything by Patricia Urquiola who has collaborated with many of the suppliers we use. Her work is very ‘of the now’ and present. She is known for her rich earthy tones and is not shy of colour. Her work very much pairs the beauty of traditional craftmanship with innovative, sustainable materials making her an exciting designer to keep tabs on. I also previously studied History of Art and the study of design and architecture is a big part of what led me towards interior design. Architects I enjoyed learning about were Le Corbusier, Mies Van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright and Alvar Aalto. Whilst they each have their distinct style and schools of thought they each incorporate nature and the surrounding world into their designs in a unique way.

What keeps you inspired?

Getting out and about. Inspiration doesn’t stem from any one source, some (I’d argue most) good ideas come to you when you’re away from desk whether this is during a team huddle or out on a coffee run. The time in between time spent at your computer working is where creativity happens and inspiration can come from being out in nature, walking around the city or out on a long drive with a good playlist and plenty of time to think!

Calibro Workspace Office Design and Fitout Northern Ireland The Apprentice 5

A recent design concept by Hannah.

What are your must-visit design events throughout the year?

Obvious answer is of course Clerkenwell! It’s a great chance to socialise within the industry, catch-up with familiar faces and meet lots of new faces. It’s usually a busy trip trying to get round as many of the showrooms as we can whilst catching some of the talks and workshops going on. No trip is complete without a pint in The Slaughtered Lamb! I’m looking forward to seeing how all the showrooms have been changed up for 2024. Since moving back to Belfast I’ve also enjoyed meeting a whole new crew of reps from our various suppliers and am a sucker for a lunch-and-learn to stay up to date.

What do you like to do in your downtime? What recharges you?

I love days when you wake up with no plans at all and just seeing where the day takes you. Impromptu day trips definitely recharge me, I love being by the sea with coffee and a book and am thoroughly enjoying re-discovering the home turf. I also enjoy gaming – some days you just need time and space to yourself to get your head showered and gaming is the ultimate de-stressor for me, I switch on to switch off! Whilst maybe not the best thing to de-stress (especially after this season!) I love getting down to the SSE to watch the Belfast Giants on the weekend, nothing better than a few beers and cheering, or jeering, on a Saturday evening to recharge you.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the field?

Ask lots of questions. And if you’re asked to ask less questions, ask some more – it’ll wind them up but it’s how you learn. There’s so much you can pick up from the team around you across various disciplines, this is what I love about the world of D&B, we are a team of creatives, thinkers, doers all working together to the same end with skillsets that complement each other’s.

Also to be cheeky. It can be really hard to get a foot in the door when you first graduate, you just have to put yourself out there with your portfolio whether people are hiring or not. Even if a job ad is for a more experienced role, represent what skills you do have confidently and eventually you’ll find someone willing to take a chance on you. This extends to being pro-active, whether it’s applying for roles or on the job – you need to put the work in to develop your skillsets and learn, no one else can do that for you it’s just time and dedication.

Wild card – what actor would play you in a movie?

Tilda Swinton – she’s such a versatile actor I think she could play anyone and everyone, and at every stage of life! Plus, she has great cheekbones and rocks a slightly androgynous style.

Hannah recently took on a fictitious brief to redesign Lord Sugar’s boardroom and reception area. Check out the design brief and concept here.

Connect with Hannah.


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