Niki Hopper

Architect

Describe yourself (non-work related)?

Outgoing, funny, adventurous lady with an artistic crafty side. 

In a few words, tell us what it is you do?

I produce drawings & 3D visuals for clients wishing to extend/remodel their homes. 

What initially got you into your practise?

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when l left school, I got a college course booklet and picked the one that I thought suited me best and was the most interesting. 

If you weren’t an architectural technician, what do you think you would be doing?

Photography, interior design or graphic design. 

Is your profession, what you thought you would be doing when you left school?

I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left school. I didn’t even see college or university as an option as it wasn’t really spoken about at my school. A real shame really.

Have you got any words of advice to young designers who are trying to start their own professional career?

Be proactive, listen to others, research other designers/practices, don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn new skills/subjects. 

Do you like being in the design industry? Why / why not?

Yes I love being in the design industry. It’s such a creative alternative industry to be in. Everyday I’m inspired by a design, a building, a product or even a fabric and I think thats great. It sometimes feels like we’re all in it together rather than it being competition. 

What is your favourite part of being in the design industry?

Seeing the finished result; going back to see a client when their project is finished is such an amazing feeling. Seeing them happy and loving their space makes it very worthwhile. 

Is there anything about the industry you would change?

Even though its not as much an issue now as it was in the past maybe the whole ‘women in construction/architecture’ we are more than capable of being in this industry. Some of my best peers/leaders were women, a high majority of my architect friends are female and I even no of female plumbers, plasterers etc 

Is there anything you would have done differently if you were to start your career again?

Look at all my options in more detail. Research the end result – jobs that would be available to me. I feel I went in a bit blind but luckily it turned out great. 

What has been the thing you have done in your professional life / designed that you are most proud of?

When I was a trainee and in my first ever practice one of my projects was the refurbishment of a cricket club that was used by a charity for disabled adults. Part of the refurbishment was a ramp from the club down to the pitch so that the members were able to explore the grassed area. I meet the users of the club personally and could see what a difference it was going to make. That felt great and I know the charity still use the club and the ramp has been a massive improvement. We also made door ways wider and designed a user friendly kitchen. 

Describe your design process. What is the VERY first thing you do when you get a brief?

Survey the property (taking measurements internally and externally), produce existing floor plans & elevations, then the proposed plans & elevations to discus the proposals with the client, then planning permission drawings (where required) and eventually more detailed construction/building regs drawings. 

Are you a procrastinator? Do you even believe there is such thing as procrastination?

Yes and yes!! I worked with a lady once (my lovely Holly!) who designed her own stand for her workstation so that should work stood up; she found her procrastination levels decreased massively. My very good interior design friend Mel has stand up desks in her office – they are electric so that they can be used for sitting and standing work. 

What do you do when you’re not designing?

I enjoy cycling, walking, reading, movies, meals out with family and/or friends. Love to snowboard but obviously can only do that so often! 

When something is funny, do you usually laugh raucously, hiss, snort, chuckle quietly to yourself or smile and nudge the person next to you?

Depends where I am or who I’m with but I’m not generally a loud laugher!