Jonathan Custance's Golden Rule of Sustainable Design


Jonathan Custance

is a multi-award winning New Zealand architect and fellow of the Designers’ Institute of New Zealand, who founded his firm Custance over 25 years ago. His feedback was invaluable for our Method recycling bins.

When it comes to Custance, there's a personal connection for Method. It isn't that our offices were crafted by their skilled hands, or that our kitchen boasts their signature open plan, social styling. Rather, it was the gift of their wisdom.

During the three years of research, focus groups, and even cleaning night-shifts that it took to form our recycling bins, India and Steven were proud to be given creative feedback by Jonathan. A master of design, he inherently knows how people work, so when he spoke we listened.

Humans and their wellbeing provide the root of everything Custance does, especially on the esteemed projects with huge names they’ve completed, such as Accenture’s Wellington office, Fisher & Paykel’s Sydney HQ, NZ Institutes of Chartered Accountants, and the NEC Innovation Centre. His practice revolves around the intersection of design and sustainability - here we talk to him about his processes, and how it pays to be future-focused.


 Custance x  Churches of Christ

Custance x Churches of Christ

"The golden rule of design would be that form follows function"

What does design mean to you?

Design is digging deep to find out what you’re trying to achieve in a spatial point of view; it’s understanding an organisation’s business strategy and aligning a space to facilitate it. The golden rule of design would be that form follows function, which means understanding the functionality of what you’re trying to accommodate and then finding the form to fit it.


Talk us through your process when it comes to designing a space.

The design process is extracting, observing, talking through to get insights into the organisation. How you tackle it depends on different factors - there’s an aspirational aspect and a flexibility aspect. Where’s the company going? What’s driving a move? These are all things you need to facilitate with form.


 Custance x  Corporate Express Australia

Custance x Corporate Express Australia

How do the issues of waste and sustainability fit into your design?

How do we look at sustainability? There’s a series of levels, one is the planning point of view. How sustainable is our planning related to the adaptability of the structure? How sustainable in a lifecycle, durability, timelessness, wearability point of view are the materials we’re using?

The biggest aspect of sustainability is the materials we use in the construction of the fitout. We’re always being mindful of the extremity of green buildings, as we’re professional members of the Green Council. Future-proofing a building is paramount; we’ve got flexibility within the elements we put into the building that can adapt in future generations with minimum alteration. It may be more of an upfront cost, but it facilitates the future.


  Fisher & Paykel Design Centre

Fisher & Paykel Design Centre

What results have you seen from installing Method bins in your office?

We want to segregate our rubbish at source, which is an important thing... Making the selection earlier in the chain is always better. It’s given us with ease the ability to emphasise the visibility of recycling. I think it’s an educational tool, if you want to change people’s habits you’ve got to make it simple. What your bins have done, is by having the design focus, is you’ve made people consider their actions. 


 Custance x  Minter Ellison Rudd Watts

Custance x Minter Ellison Rudd Watts

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