From Persia to Portobello, Erfan Azadi tells his story

Words Eve Herbert 

“I feel I’m only just getting started…” Says Australian Architect Erfan Azadi. This may sound like a strange claim from a man who has designed and built buildings on every continent, an opportunity he admits he was fortunate to have had, but he’s the type that always likes to ask: How did the traveller arrive at his start point?

Having begun his career in Sydney in the late 90’s, by 30 Erfan had travelled the world as a Senior Designer for Yoo, working with iconic designers like Phillipe Starck and Jade Jagger.

“Those years were a great learning experience for me, the projects were all encompassing: architecture, design, furniture, branding, marketing, sales…. It’s not a typical experience for a young Architect”

Now 40 and running his own design studio, Duck & Shed, he’s more focused on matters closer to home.

“I like to walk the streets of my neighborhood sometimes looking at the big houses and imagining what I would do if it were my project. I hate it when I then see one of these imaginary projects later on with another architects sign up on the hoardings. ‘Another missed opportunity’, I think to myself”

Specialising in the design and construction of residential projects in and around RBKC, Duck & Shed could be considered a local expert, having completed numerous high-profile home renovations throughout the area, including some listed buildings and, perhaps more notably, a penthouse on the exclusive Kensington Palace Gardens.

Born in Iran, Erfan has lived in over 15 different cities all over the world, in countries like Venezuela, New Zealand and Australia, but considers himself a Londoner and, perhaps more whimsically, a ‘Notting Hillbilly’.
“My parents moved around a lot when I was growing up, maybe that messed me up somehow – I don’t know, but it did mean that from an early age I learnt to relate to people and make new friends quickly. This is unbelievably useful in my line of work where you have so many different stakeholders and contributors on every project”

Not all of Duck & Shed projects are built for the super wealthy, he says, but they are all highly bespoke. Erfan says the key driver of success when creating this type of detailed work is trust.

“Trust between the design team, trust between the suppliers, the craftsmen and myself, trust between the contractor and my team and most importantly trust between my clients and me. No man is an island, and every project is a collaboration”

Building collaborative teams is one thing Erfan considers himself good at, along with his dedication to delivering the best possible outcome for his clients. Being a boutique studio, Duck & Shed limit the number of projects taken on each year, never committing to more than a handful of carefully selected projects, ensuring clients always receive a high-quality, focused service.

Duck & Shed were recently named by ELLE Décor as one of the top 30 Architects and designers in their annual “Best in Britain” design directory and were long-listed for “Emerging Practice of the Year” by World Interiors, accolades that Erfan doesn’t necessarily take too seriously.

“We are definitely not number one…yet, but we will always try harder for our clients. People really understand that and appreciate everything you do for them, which is the best part of the job. These days, a lot of clients end up as friends, and a lot of my friends end up as clients! We recently finished a project that took over a year to complete – there was not single word or email exchanged in frustration the entire time. Incredible. When I hear about the problems people have on their projects I just laugh. “Should’ve come to Duck & Shed” I say ”

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