2010—onwards: Interview with Make Models

Photography by Pier Carthew
Models by Make Models
Styling by Stefanie Breschi

Make Models is an Australian-based architectural model-making studio specialising in finely crafted scale models for architects, designers, and artists. Exploring novel ways of making through considered materials, the studio’s core belief is in the collaborative process, ensuring every model plays an important role in enabling the way we think, understand and communicate ideas.

Dight Street

George and Andrew

Hello, what is your name, background and how did you end up doing what you do?

MM: We are Celeste Raanoja and Nikola Kovac of Make Models. We originally graduated in architecture and always loved the craft of making things with our hands through model making and testing design ideas through physical explorations. In our jobs in architecture, we found we always gravitated toward opportunities to make models and explore digital fabrication technologies. At some point, we tried to see if there was a viable opportunity for us to pivot more seriously into the world of model making from the perspective of architectural professionals. We made a handful of models for some Australian architects whose work we greatly admired and we were fortunate enough to build our business off a distinct style we established very early on. Over the years we’ve grown a team of greatly talented and like-minded architects-turned-makers and it’s been fun to see how the team's different skills and interests have evolved our approach.

What is your connection to the materials you work with, what do they do for you that others don’t?

MM: Since we work in miniature scales, where the material is meant to represent something else, each material we choose has to serve the double purpose of being a beautiful object but also evoking an alternate meaning. We love working with timbers so a trip to our local timber yard is always an exciting experience as we’re always looking for interesting local and international species that speak to us through grain and texture to evoke different ideas and meanings for our projects.

Is there a recurring theme in your work?

MM: Every model we do aspires to strike a balance between the informative and the artistic. We’re always striving to create objects that can stand alone as objects of beauty, like sculptures, but also convey architectural meaning to the observer. We wrestle a lot with the balance of abstraction and conveyed meaning of modelled objects to try to achieve this.

When you hear ‘trust the process’ what comes to mind?

MM: Trusting the process for us means approaching each model without an assumed outcome. We love the collaborative approach of our work and feed off the input of architects and designers to create a bespoke outcome as much as possible. We love the process of learning through our work and are constantly asking ourselves ‘how else’ can this be constructed or crafted, so each model goes through an iterative path of solution testing before we reach a final outcome.

If you could be reminded of something every day, what would it be?

MM: We try to remind ourselves every day how fortunate we are to be able to work with so many great Australian architects on vastly different project types across the country. It’s great to be part of so many teams and get an inside look at how design is approached differently by some of the best architects in the country. It is also super unique to be able to do, what some people enjoy as a hobby, as a career. That is something that we truly do remind ourselves of very often.

What else are you involved with that we might not know about?

MM: A lot of our team has done teaching at universities in the fields of model making, architectural graphics and 3D modelling. Celeste was recently awarded the Byera Hadley architecture travel scholarship to pursue an international field trip investigating techniques used to catalogue the architectural models that are helping to shape our cities. Aside from models she loves art and practices her oil painting and knitting in her spare time. Nikola has always been a passionate musician which he pursues in his time outside of the workshop. He spends much of his time outside of the workshop training for long distance running events, which he swears helps hone his patience as a model maker.

Otter Place

Make Models completed George and Andrew, Dight Street and Otter Place for our exhibition 2010—onwards: A decade of creative development.

For more of Make Model's work visit or follow Make Models on Instagram.

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