Celebrating Friendship: Eugene Marchese

The people that enter our lives enter for a reason. Sometimes they leave, but it is when they stay that we can consciously appreciate the roles they play in our lives. These same people often leave marks within us because I believe they become integral parts of our story, teaching us, guiding us, helping us navigate our paths.

This month, I celebrate my dear friend and Australian architect guru Eugene Marchese whose presence has made a significant impression in my vision as a designer, artist and, most important of all, human being.

Eugene is an incredibly unique individual who is so deeply passionate about his work—a bold designer unafraid to make a fool of himself and stand for his voice. He never settles to be someone he’s not and celebrates everything he does with a touch of humor. 

He is a rock star who has guided me to embrace the confidence I need to expose and be vulnerable myself.

The first time I saw Eugene being interviewed, I remembered thinking, “How can this guy be so cool?” I was shy but experiencing Eugene’s confidence empowered me to come out of hiding and allow myself to embrace visibility, not as a behind-the-scenes designer, but as an artist and visionary whose work speaks volumes.

This year, my fearless friend and mentor turns 50-years-old, and I’d like to dedicate this story to one of the coolest, happiest, creative, lovable and successful people I know. I have yet to see Eugene upset or defeated, and his optimistic attitude, both in his life and business, is more than worthy of applauding…

Read my brief Q&A with Eugene below.

Q | When did you know you were born to design?
A | When I was 12-years-old, my family and I went to Italy to visit family and I remember being godsmacked at how amazing the building, spaces and monuments were. There and then, I decided that I wanted to create built form that impacted people’s lives, just like life had been impacted. On that trip, I told my uncle who lived in Italy that I wanted to become an architect, so he went out and bought my a compass and drawing set which I still hold dear to this day.

Q | What is your most memorable moment as a designer?
A | Winning the International Design Competition back in 2001 where we “rolled the dice” to go all out with our concept. We never expected to win but had the courage to back ourselves. We believed that the Client’s Competition Brief was flawed, so we came up with an alternative solution—and we won!

Q | What is your “ungettable get”? Please don’t say Kim Kardashian!
A | The Holy Grail for me is getting to a point where I have “had enough” and want to stop. Every time I think I’m almost there, another exciting opportunity comes along, and we start again…

Q | Where do you draw the line?
A | Grubby developers!

Q | What’s is your dream design project?
A | A Catholic church. My vision of what a church should be has absolutely no relation to the 99% of churches I visit. I think places of worship—and especially Catholic churches—are completely incongruous with how they should operate and what they should actually accomplish. I won’t elaborate more—you’ll have to wait until I design one! 

Q | What and why are your top 3 favorite projects?
A | First is the Bondi Icebergs. It’s in an iconic location. It was an impossible project, but now it’s an icon. Second is Top of the Town. We turned a sow’s ear into a silk purse and proved that minimalism can be soft. Third is my current home because my wife and two boys tell me they love living there every single day.

Happy 50th birthday to Eugene Marchese. Keep living the dream!