Fit Out Focus | Andy Barnett, Unique

Having always known that design was his passion, the road to creating fit-out designs for Andy Barnett has seen him branch out to various areas of the industry.

Since graduating with a degree in graphic design in 1999, initially found a role working on the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. This would start a 13-year-long sting working in the film and theming industries, usually working in the construction and art departments. Barnett worked on such blockbusters as the Star Wars franchise, Matrix, The Narnia franchise, and others. 

He would go on to work on fit-outs for casinos in Macau, China, before arriving back in New Zealand in 2012.

He said that it was at this point in his career that he would start up his own business designing fit-outs. 

“We moved back to Nz and started Unique Ltd in 2012 with the Idea of bringing some of the talents that I had worked with over the years together. We introduced techniques, finishes and work ethics into the commercial world of New Zealand that was common in film, but unseen in the commercial and residential market here. 

After a lot of experience and hard work, Barnet has what he described as an unusual approach to design.

“I like to understand the client's thoughts and ideas but also how they want their environment to feel and function,” said Barnett.

“The conceptual mood board follows the meeting. This usually illustrates a selection of images, gathered from various sources along with some initial hand-sketched designs, layouts and or CAD models.”

Barnett said that once this is discussed with clients and agreed upon, the process continues with the developed design in which all areas of the fit-out are looked at.

When sourcing inspiration, Barnett likes to absorb what is around him in his day-to-day life. But as with most design processes, there is an element of sophistication and challenging moments. 

“Most of our jobs are challenging, I guess that's what sets us apart. We make the impossible possible,” said Barnett.

Working on the front of house for four themed Hoyts cinema complexes in Australia, and designing and building the world's largest skateboard for a campaign in the leadup to the 2021 Olympic Games have been challenging projects that Barnett worked on. Barnett said that they are set apart from others due to the experienced talent they can draw from within the team. Barnett said there is always a new area of the industry to work on.

“The experience has been great so far. We are always busy and always have interesting creative projects to be involved in, but we need to do more.”