An Interview with Stephanie Mills Judges Interviews

What are you passionate about? What motivates and inspires you?

I’m passionate about cities and people; about the ‘drivers of change’ impacting our world and how we, as designers, might work together with other disciplines and society in general, to find new or better ways of doing things to improve the environment, places and quality of life for all.

What inspires you about the award?

The Award is inspiring because its focus is on creative projects whose originators have applied their energy, imagination and skills to addressing and communicating ways to meet the challenges of our time, rather than on more products intended primarily for consumption. The Award’s open brief and invitation to a diversity of participants from across the creative spectrum is refreshing and relevant in that in promotes dialogue from different perspectives.

What’s your greatest professional or personal accomplishment?

I don’t have a greatest professional or personal accomplishment, but I’m fully engaged in what I do and aligned with its trajectory. I’m a strategic thinker and creative synthesiser of ideas so my work has evolved from architectural and urban design practice towards strategic visioning and engagement processes in an attempt to develop more inclusive forms of place-making that increase social connectedness, resilience and capacity in organisations and communities.

Who has been your biggest influence?

South Africa architect Rodney Harber encouraged me to study architecture and became one of my first tutors and mentors at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban. It opened a whole new world for me aged 17 and I’ve never looked back. Mentors are important in life. It’s a reciprocal role I enjoy when the opportunity arises.

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given and who gave it?

A piece of advice from an Italian friend: ‘chi tire strasciare’ – if you pull too hard it will break. It’s a constant reminder to stay in flow and not try to hard when things don’t go the way you want or expect them to.