John Hughes Senior Architect is the Edinburgh Studio Lead for ODOS the award-winning practice of architects and interior designers based in Dublin, with studios in London, Edinburgh and New York. Our diverse portfolio includes large-scale residential developments, office fit-outs, new hotels, hospitality schemes and private residences.

You can see the ODOS portfolio on their website here

What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

We are growing our business in the UK, expanding our London studio and opening our Edinburgh studio. London remains a buoyant market for ODOS, and we share the view of our clients that the Northern regions and Scotland have amazing opportunities to do business and the best way to capitalise on this is to join the local markets. I am growing our networks across the UK and sourcing potential projects for our clients.

How has your business strategy been adapted in the context of the Covid-19 crisis?

As a multi-studio practice, with offices in Dublin, London, Edinburgh and New York, we are well-versed in remote working – utilising video conferencing apps to host design team meetings, client presentations and “virtual coffees” for new business.

How do you keep your team/staff motivated?

Our studios are set up to encourage collaboration across the whole team. It’s a very social experience, so lockdown and homeworking was challenging at the beginning. Fortunately, we have been connecting across our studios for a number of years, so we were able to quickly adapt to online communication and virtually reinstate our collaboration ethos. We are all designers and we make sure all staff have a part to play in the design process, it is a rewarding feeling to see a design come together this way.

What are the challenges facing your industry going forward?

Construction projects can span many months or even years so it requires confidence in the market to commit to such projects. Like many industries, there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. However, we can see opportunities in the market as the industry prepares to return to normal, including clients looking to be ahead of the curve as businesses reopen.

What new trends are emerging in your industry?

We do a lot of work in the hospitality sector, including several bespoke hotels in Dublin and London. We have noticed as the hotel market becomes increasingly competitive, new hotel models are beginning to evolve to create revenue streams away from hotel room rates alone. Hotels located in popular town centre locations are turning to the local market, becoming trendy bars and restaurants to go to without being a guest in the hotel. We do a lot of research on this trend and work with our clients to roll out across many locations.

Social distancing measures will affect how we design the buildings we all use, particularly our workplaces. Pre-Covid 19, ODOS produced innovative workplaces for clients including Rothco and Slack, that break the mold of the 9-5 desk based office and encourage flexible working arrangements so we ready to introduce our ideas across more office spaces

Are you finding any skills gaps in the market?

No, we are currently recruiting for our Edinburgh, London and Dublin studios and have received a very high standard of applications. I don’t know if this is indicative of the market but it is very positive for our practice.

How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?

We have seen interest from clients from both countries looking to invest in the other even in the face of Brexit and we believe this will continue after the transition process is completed. ODOS are well established in the UK and Ireland and well placed to take advantages of any opportunities that arise.

How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

We strive to be at the forefront of architectural design, learning from our experience and constantly researching and testing new designs to remain innovative and pioneer new ideas. Seeing our work become reality drives us to continue what we do every day. We are glad to work with clients who share our visions and allow us to deliver our projects.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

Be agile and always be able to adapt. The last three months has shown in many different ways how the landscape can change very quickly and how you need to be able to evolve and look for the opportunities. We have have won a number of new commissions in the last few months by being flexible in how we can work.

What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

We have completed a number of major projects in the last year which have collected numerous awards, including The Masonry co-working office and the Mayson Hotel in Dublin, a sign of our hard work paying off for ODOS and our clients.

What’s next for your company?

We have a number of major projects in the pipeline that we are excited to complete in the next 12 months, we hope these will follow the success of our recently completed  award winning projects.

We have just started on site with a artisan whiskey Distillery at Ballykelly Mills in Ireland which we have been working on for a number of years so it will be exciting to see it coming to life.

What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2020/21?

We are pressing ahead with our expansion plans in the UK, including building our new Edinburgh base and growing the team. Further afield, we are working on a number of projects in Lisbon, The Algarve, New York and L.A. We would like to build our international presence with the view to opening new studios in future.

Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

Our ambition would be to have four busy studio’s working on a diverse portfolio of local and international projects across new hotels, large-scale commercial and residential developments, hospitality schemes and private residences utilizing our teams expertise in conservation, landscaping, 3D videos, BIM modelling, interior design and furniture design.

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