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Market Update: Sydney Architecture & Interior Design, April 2024

24th April 2024 / Market Updates

Welcome to the Sydney market update for the Architectural and Interior Design sectors, the first for 2024! Hopefully this report will give some insight into what we have seen happening within the job market over the last 3 months in addition to a few thoughts on what the outlook may be moving forward.

Photo: Thomas Owen

The overriding sentiment across both Architecture and Interior Design is that it has definitely been a less consistent market lately, which we can see reflected not only in overall advertisement patterns, but also the change in types of roles we are seeing come through in the office. Clients are targeting very specific skill sets and project experience, and are increasingly selective about who they will and won’t consider for their roles. So, the turnaround time and consideration taken to ensure ‘best fit’ is achieved before decisions and financial commitments are made, is generally far greater.

In contrast to the Covid years, it has been pleasing to see our talent pool grow over the last 6 months and this has meant we are in a strong position to provide our clients with a range of quality options when they are hiring. Further to this, there has definitely been a sharp uptick over the last 6 months in the number overseas candidates coming into the market. We had seen this slowly increase post Covid, through 2023, but we are now very much back to pre-Covid levels. Whilst this is a positive for the general pool of available talent in terms of providing pure numbers and a diverse, international skill set, it can be more challenging to find a role immediately if you haven’t had local experience. That said, we have placed some exceptional Candidates into excellent roles who have had no local experience but ticked all of the boxes the Client was seeking to fill.

Architecture 

Photo Jeremy Budiman

The Australian architecture market is experiencing what feels like a period of transition. Whilst the residential sector, particularly multi-unit and build-to-rent projects, remains active, a good number of government funded projects are on hold or nearing completion, impacting larger architectural firms.

Government funded projects are either delayed or finished, leaving a gap in the pipeline for larger architectural practices. In addition, a number of Regional governmental projects have been further impacted by recent flooding, especially public Health and Educational projects. As a result, numerous large firms have had to resort to redundancies in late 2023 and early 2024 due to the lack of upcoming work.

A more positive area is the multi-unit residential, mixed-use, and build-to-rent markets, which is currently one of our most active sectors, offering opportunities for Registered Architects, and those with Class 2 registration, are particularly in high demand due to the strong activity levels. We have also seen a fairly consistent – with only occasional glitches of softening – level of work within the luxury high end residential sector, perhaps being less impacted by the high interest rates compared to the lower to mid-end single residential sector which has definitely slowed.

Interior Design

Photo: R Architecture

A Residential Rebound? The Residential interior design sector is experiencing a positive trend, again a market that at one moment had softened slightly, but again, the higher end has appeared to be somewhat less impacted by high interest rates and cost of living. Couple this with an overall sentiment that interest rates are looking likely to come down, means we have seen an increase in listings in this sector and we taken on a number of exceptional roles for mid-senior level high end residential experienced Interior Designers over the last few months.

The hospitality and retail markets are holding pretty steady currently, and there are opportunities in both sectors at the moment. However, the workplace/office interior design market is showing a degree of inconsistency in terms of newly listed positions. Some companies seem to be super-busy and in a hiring pattern, whilst others are find new work tough to secure, so as we saw towards the end of last year, very much a market of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.

Salary Trends

Photo: Marcus Reubenstein

This is an interesting one, whilst on one hand interest rates have provided a degree of stability over the previous 6 months, salary increases for Architects have stagnated as a result of the lack of demand coming from the larger practices. We have seen a number of redundancies over the past 6-12 months, and Architectural practices have clearly been more cautious around what they are currently offering.

In regards to Interior Design, this market has generally been more active than Architecture and as a result we have seen a little more opportunity currently for Designers to move roles and increase their base salary, however overall, Clients are more wary of their bottom line and costs and we have definitely seen the expectations of Clients and Candidates being misaligned at times. It seems at the moment we are seeing very much a melting pot of issues at play – on one hand there is the post Covid work environment that offers flexibility and remote working that many seek but not all are as keen to offer, alongside cost of living pressures and associated salary requirements and getting the right person but monitoring costs. It is on this basis it would be fair to say that overall, it comes very much down to individual Company and Candidate situations as opposed to being able to highlight particular trends.

Looking Forward

The Sydney Architecture market at this moment in time seems to be shifting away from government-funded projects and more towards of a residentially-driven market.  This presents genuine opportunities for Architects specializing in multi-unit/mixed use and build-to-rent projects. We are currently running with a number of great roles for project running Architects with Multi-unit residential experience. Commercial is still slow overall and we do not see too many signs of this changing, industrial projects are still active but again overall the biggest architectural driver looks set to remain within the multi residential sector.

Photo: Michael Williams II

The interior design sector seems to be experiencing a mixed performance currently across most project typologies, with the greatest strength in residential. Looking ahead, we anticipate that candidates with high-end Residential and Hospitality experience will be in most demand.

What lies ahead – it’s hard to say, considering not only the local market climate but also the broader global geopolitical conditions, at this moment in time it would be difficult to predict what lies ahead long-term with utmost certainly. It is for this reason we are focusing more on what we are seeing right now for both our Clients and Candidates, whilst trying to keep a keen eye on what is to come. So let’s get on with 2024 and make things happen!! If you need any assistance please do not hesitate to reach out – we are here to help as always.

Jamie Keay

Partner – Sydney

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