MICHAEL MAY

Friends of UPco

At UPco, we’re fortunate to work with some of Australia’s leading figures in placemaking – from developers and architects to specialist consultants. In this series, we chat to some of our long-standing partners – and in this episode, we’re pleased to introduce Michael May, General Manager of InForm Design.

While Michael comes from a diverse background in investment and strategic advisory, he has been integral in the ongoing success of InForm, a Melbourne architecture and construction company that streamlines the design and delivery of beautiful high-end homes.

Thanks for making the time to talk, Michael. Maybe we can start by talking about InForm? I believe it’s based on quite a unique concept.

Yes – InForm was established around thirty years ago by Chris McKimm who, at that time, saw a gap in the market for a combined architecture and construction offering. Even now, these disciplines usually work independently, and even when there’s a great relationship between the two, the delivery process isn’t always frictionless – especially for a client. And that’s where the concept for InForm comes from.

We invested a lot of time and energy into perfecting the process and structure behind what we do, always with the end goal of exceptional delivery on the architectural design and client experience. We have built a strong team with great longevity and we’re all very passionate about what we do. We love beautiful architecture and really put design up on a pedestal – we want our clients to co-create the homes of their dreams. But more than that, we want to execute those plans so the dream can be a reality… without the client losing sleep or blowing their budget!

Our market is high-end private residential projects, which may be family homes or coastal holiday houses. But whatever the project, there’s always a personal element, and often it will be our client’s biggest investment. So, our Project Managers and the entire team devote a lot of time to making the experience collaborative and supportive, so clients know we’re by their side throughout. At the end of the day, it’s a family business, and our clients are an extension of that.

How did you end up in your current role? Is there a family connection?

No family connection for me, but certainly a shared set of values. Our Managing Director, Cameron, is the son of founder Chris, so the business is definitely still family-run in values and approach – but the family ethos really comes through in the culture of our business, and what our people care about. I came on board 8 years ago, reverting to my passion for Construction after a decade in investment and strategic advisory. The InForm business model of a client-centric approach enabled me to put my passion and skills to use within the operations side of the business. One of the beautiful things about InForm is the stability and cohesion of the team; the sense of inclusion and a common focus. It’s great to be part of.

What is the connection to UPco?

We’ve been working with UPco for nearly 7 years now – as we looked to partner with a market-leading planning consultancy to collaborate with on various projects. We met with Peter Doyle and Henry Wood, and things evolved from there. Now, we partner exclusively with UPco on all our projects with great success.

Having expert advice from UPco early on in projects is a fundamental part of our process – we couldn’t do what we do without this input. The planning side of things has become more challenging over time, and the levels of compliance continue to change and move. Having a good relationship with UPco means we can obtain a lot more information about a site upfront, and navigate the process and make decisions more effectively. Our Project Management team engages with UPco before our Architects even start work – so when they do commence designing, they’re working with a deep level of insight into what challenges they may encounter in gaining development approval.

We’ve found that UPco follows a very similar thought process to our own team, aiming to mitigate and minimise issues in the council phase, and understand where we can push the envelope. The proof of this approach is in the pudding. We’re proud to work on truly beautiful homes, and have genuinely happy clients. And we look forward to many more.

Thanks for the chat, Michael, and for continuing to entrust us with your projects. To learn more about InForm’s work, head to informdesign.com.au.