Comedian and architecture enthusiast Tim Ross shares his thoughts on design and finding humour in architecture.

Tim Ross. Image supplied by ABC.

Your show ‘Designing a Legacy’ will take place in the storied Customs House, which will be open to the public for the first time in over 160 years. How did this opportunity arise, and what does it mean for you?

I’m always looking for reasons to visit the Bellarine, and when this opportunity came from Geelong Design Week, I jumped at the chance of bringing my show to Customs House. I’ve got some great friends living on the Surf Coast, and it means a lot too as a long-time Cats supporter, but getting inside a rarely-seen historic building really is a huge bonus!


Of course, architecture is serious business. How do you find the light side of it, and how do you connect comedy and architecture more broadly?

Well, at its essence, architecture is about people. We all have various shades of serious and fun, and these gradients are what my shows contain. So, while they are a lecture of sorts, it’s filled with fun and comedy. At its heart, it’s about connection – both with one and other and how we connect with what we design and build.


Can you tell us about your personal history or experiences with the city of Geelong over the years — particularly from a creative or design perspective?

My favourite moments of the last few years have been performing in Kirriemuir House. It’s a gorgeous 1960s home in the suburbs, and a true moment in time. Beautifully updated by local architect and founding director of Studio 101, Peter Woolard, Kirriemuir House reminds me fondly of visiting relatives in Geelong back in the day.

Peter and I first met by chance years ago in Los Angeles. It was over a beer among the Palm Springs landscape that we bonded over our love of architecture, and years later, brought me to Kirriemuir House.

Side Table by Ross Thompson Furniture. Image by Tess Kelly.
Monolithic by Two Lines Studio. Image by Two Lines Studio.

As we know, Geelong is the only designated UNESCO City of Design in Australia. What is the legacy of this title, particularly in the context of celebrating local design talent through events like Geelong Design Week?

As a designated UNESCO City of Design, it’s about promoting cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. It speaks to the opportunity of the city, and the potential of Geelong to forge a brighter path alongside, and learning from, other Australian cities.


Do you think Geelong – and Victoria more generally – has a unified ‘design identity’? Or is it more a question of celebrating individual perspectives, practices and styles that make up a cohesive design community?

Diversity is the key to everything we do, and inclusivity leads to better cities. In engaging with a wider collegiate, by celebrating design diversity and promoting emerging talent, our design community can benefit from each other, while helping everyone — I certainly think that’s the case.


What other events or exhibits are you looking forward to seeing in the Geelong Design Week program?

Sadly, I won’t be in Geelong for as long as I’d like. Though there are some events from the program that have definitely caught my eye and I’m hoping to find time for – like the showcase of local furniture, fabric, and lighting designers at Wurriki Nyal.

If time was not an issue, I would’ve loved to listen in on the panel diving into the design of the Nyaal Banyul Geelong Convention and Event Centre. I’m fascinated at the way it intends on activating Geelong’s unique harbourfront, and who knows, perhaps it’ll be the spot for my next show!

Geelong Design Week launches 19-29 October, running over 50+ events, talks, exhibitions, installations, experiences and more. Visit the Geelong Design Week website for the full program details.