Joe Snell is an Australian architect, and founding partner of The Help Locker, a project for the homeless.

I always question my perspective. If you want to be good at design, you have to be able to understand other people's perspectives. It's one of the major things that I focus on, and I try to get my team to think like that too.

I am 99 per cent straight line and 1 per cent curve. But it's all about the curve. I've just designed a restaurant and it's all straight lines, except for two curves, and they are hot! They're really beautiful curves. They're one of the major features, but they add up to less than 1 per cent of the design. For a lot of the work I do, I create the support network to allow for that 1 per cent to conquer.

The most original thinker, the pusher of envelopes for me is [inventor, entrepreneur] Elon Musk. He's brave, he comes up with innovation, and most importantly he does it. He's not just a big ideas person, he follows through and tries to change the world.

Everything is a derivative in architecture and design. Everything has been inspired by or sourced from some other inspiration. The key is that once you accept that it's part of the equation, you need to figure out how to break down the boundaries of inspiration and stand out.

The smaller you can be in whatever you create, it's usually more efficient. To me it's not black and white, but generally if someone comes to me and says, "I want a sustainable house," the first thing I say is it's not a clever idea to build a massive house. What's sustainable is just having one really good living space, one really good bedroom and a shared bathroom. That is going to be better for the environment. Start small.


The home design mantra that works for me is "less is often more". The reason I include "often" is because you still need the light, and you still need beauty. You need to be comfortable, there's no point saying "less is more" and then being uncomfortable. I believe less is more but you need your creature comforts.

The phrase that sums me up is "under construction". I'm not finished yet, I've got a lot to do.

Joe Snell is a judge on House Rules, Mondays-Wednesdays 7.30pm and Sundays at 7pm on TV3.