We thrive on meeting your brief with a holistic and design-intensive resolution that is seamless, feels effortless and is tailored to you and your needs. You receive big-firm experience and know-how, while being guaranteed a boutique-studio focus and commitment.
That combination ensures an approachable and available design team that dedicates itself to your project. We pride ourselves on our ability to listen, collaborate, research and balance good looks with a business brain… and we have a great time while we are doing it!
Evan ReevesDirector + Studio DJ
“We focus on our client and the act of working together. We are a small studio and get to know all our clients personally – the relationships that are formed are important to us.”
Lisa ReevesDirector + Chocolate Hoarder
“Keep it real. The space has to feel good – if it doesn’t feel good and doesn’t function for the user, we haven’t succeeded in our design.”
Valeria La PegnaDesigner + Inhouse Chef
“We offer a unique service that focuses on the DNA of a successful project – this guides us to exciting and unique spaces.”
Daniella CatalanoGraduate Architect + The Maker of Many Teas
“Putting yourself in the shoes of the future occupant means you can experience that design moment through their eyes and desires.”
Awards and Travels
Time To Get Up Close and Personal
Our boutique studio set-up in Fremantle ensures an available and approachable team that dedicates itself to your project. And we have good coffee.
Director + Studio DJ
Evan states his career highlight is starting Design Theory. However, his 20-year history in the industry is not without its fine moments. He studied interior design at Leederville Technical College after identifying his love of the creative (art and music) and the nerdy (technical).
Coupled with a knack for problem-solving, his path was sealed. Instead of stepping behind a coffee machine, he worked in residential design while still studying, then post-graduation joined Geyer (then Blake Thornton-Smith) and worked on the original Woodside project under Kim Thornton-Smith and Brendan Wong.
Meeting Lisa in 2005, the couple travelled to London, Dublin and Melbourne. Returning to Perth in 2010, he stepped back into Geyer as an associate and design leader before opting out to launch Design Theory.
He brings extensive local and international experience across retail and hospitality to the Design Theory team, and mentors the team to keep knowledge and innovation flowing.
Q + A
First design awakening? Working under Jeff Copolov and Kristen Whittle at Bates Smart in Melbourne. At the time they were demigods and world-class architects who were incredibly articulate in designing spaces and who taught me about the place of architecture in life.
What do you love most about the industry? There seems to be a natural optimism in making things and collaborating. I enjoy the energy of projects and the fact we are surrounded by a good quality way of life every day.
What do you see as being most important when resolving a design? I try to start with innovative thought and use new technology where possible. I think it's important to engage all parties in any design solution. Without this, a design is just one designer’s thought and is not relevant.
How would you describe your position? Leading projects, co-ordinating and mentoring staff and maintaining a strong external focus with industry partners (consultants, builders, suppliers, makers, educators, researchers). I also nurture students through Curtin University and am committed to the broader design community through the DIA (Design Institute of Australia).
What is your creative process? I gave a lecture at Curtin University a few years ago on intuition and the role it plays on our design process; I believe there is a natural design solution in all our work and feel somewhat responsible to reflect on this constantly.
Design Theory’s strength? We're diverse people and bring different interests to the table. We are accepting of a problem to solve and I think that says a lot. We're also happy to do the hard work.
Office secret? I like to listen to really loud music when everyone has left the studio.
Your philosophy? Achieve a desirable and real connection between our work and the people who experience it.
Director + Chocolate Hoarder
It’s got to be said that Design Theory ‘does good material palettes’ and that may come down to Lisa’s background in Visual Arts (Bachelor of Arts [Arts], Curtin University).
She’s also experienced a lifetime of design. The daughter of award-winning and much-respected Perth building designer Gary Keen, she grew up on building sites before working in small-to-large architecture and interiors firms in Perth and Dublin.
However, it was after managing the respected Melbourne-based Dianne Tanzer gallery that she returned home in 2010 to help set up Venn design store, which at the time was one of Australia’s most exciting retail-gallery-hospitality environments, and launch Design Theory.
With 16 years’ experience in the industry, today she wears many hats: joint director; lead interior designer; studio manager; art consultant; decorator. And she shares her Design Theory journey with her husband and co-director Evan.
Q + A
What is your creative process? Listen. It’s so important to know a client. We workshop that knowledge within our team. We always look for a story and a spark, then head into materials and technology research. We put ourselves into the space to understand how it will be used, then develop the concept, detail it, deliver it and review it.
How has your passion evolved? It’s about ‘creating’ and it’s about the people we work with. I find it rewarding to see how design can bring day-to-day and commercial benefits to our clients, and how sometimes small changes can bring so much joy to a space. It really is a powerful tool.
How would you describe Design Theory? Knowledgable. Creative. Grounded. Hard-working. Small but mighty.
Career highlight? Watching school children with clipboards wandering around Empire Village Shopping Centre in the sunshine for a school assignment. I really had a sense that the community was proud and had made the precinct their own.
Office quirk? Chocolate is my absolute weakness… and our Dutch cargo bike…
Your career philosophy? Keep it real.
Valeria La Pegna
Designer + Inhouse Chef
Valeria brings a wealth of experience in large-scale hospitality projects (Aman Tokyo and Como Treasury) through her work at Kerry Hill Architects. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Interior Architecture (Hons – 1c) from Curtin University and today lectures there in design.
Stepping into the industry was a choice between becoming a chef or a designer. Her parents, who are chefs, recommended design! Coming from a hospitality family, she has pursued interiors work on hotels, bars and restaurants.
And she stepped away from the iconic Kerry Hill studio and into Design Theory so she could work directly with small businesses owners and chefs to help steer the hospitality industry of Perth.
Q + A
Describe what you love most about the industry? I believe we have a very particular set of skills that allow us to improve everyday spaces in a way that is highly detailed and technical yet at times can also be subliminal for the user. On the flip side, we also have the ability to create challenging, unusual and bizarre spaces, which is equally as exciting.
What is your creative process? To respond to project variables as uniquely as possible with a focus on giving each project a point of difference – whether it be conceptually, through material choice or operationally.
How would you describe Design Theory? We pride ourselves on consistently selecting innovative or unusual materials that offer each client a point of difference, while responding to their brief. We enjoy challenging our clients’ perceptions and hopefully guiding them into an exciting and unique solution.
What do you love most about your job/career? We appreciate and work with old materials and existing architectural elements while also being inundated with and working with new and innovative materials and products. It enables us to appreciate both sides.
Your quirk you don’t want others to know I find making pasta really therapeutic and have been known to forfeit sleep to roll out pasta shapes…
Your philosophy? To contribute to Perth in a way that is honest, original, exciting and hopefully a little unusual.
Graduate Architect + The Maker of Many Teas
A UWA architecture graduate, Daniella brings four years’ experience in Perth, New Zealand and Asia to the team. Her experience on commercial, hospitality and large-scale residential projects, not to mention passion for interiors projects, sees her working from concept to visualisation and documentation.
She believes that designing with a balance of empathy and curiosity will find the best solution; and mastering the art of stepping back will resolve design dramas without stress.
Her career highlight? Helping to manage the Australian pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia. “There is no better place to completely immerse yourself in the most current and provocative architecture and design thoughts from around the world – while consuming far too much gelato!”
Q + A
What is architecture? … the perfect combination of tangible creativity and conceptual thinking.
What draws you to it? The more intimate details and moments in design.
What do you love most about the industry? The collaboration process with fellow designers – I’ve always felt that no amount of scouring blogs and magazines for new ideas can be as effective as an inspiring and thought-provoking conversation.
What is your creative process? I generally jump in with two initial thoughts – what would we want to see, and how will that make us feel.
What inspires you? … seeing materials used in new, exciting and unconventional ways – something I think Design Theory has mastered.
Your office quirk? My resting ‘working’ face is a very grumpy frown... just know I’m not perpetually confused – I’m just thinking very hard!
Quote to live by? “With freedom, books, flowers and the moon – how could one not be happy?” – Oscar Wilde