Julian Maynard, managing director of Maynard Design Group, discusses his thoughts on the property industry, as well as his cultural recommendations, including TV shows, albums and their most ridiculous fact.
How did you join the built environment industry?
I ended up in the built environment because I like making things and honing a craft. I found the profession of industrial design, which is quite broad as I have managed to design consumer products, street furniture and city wayfinding systems. I also relish working as part of a team, and so many disciplines are needed to come together to deliver a project in the built environment.
What does your job entail?
Today, as managing director of Maynard Design Group, my job entails a balance between developing work with creative teams through to managing clients and looking for further opportunities to grow the business internationally, which has been my core focus for the last five years (alongside delivering large transport projects).
What do you like most about the built environment sector?
I most enjoy the design strategy and the final production elements of these projects. The strategy is so key: we are designing for people, so we need to understand their needs; we then need to understand the culture and environment of the place; and then that leads us on to the design of the product itself and how people will interact with it. So much thought goes into each detail because we need to bring clarity to complex environments so people can interact with them seamlessly – that is what it is all about.
And what do you dislike most about it?
There is always a challenge in trying to get stakeholders aligned with our vision. It can take time and it requires resilience, but all great projects need that.
What would you change about the industry?
If I could change one thing about the industry it would be procurement. The great projects are built on good working relationships and a collaboration of skills – not solely the bottom line. There has to be a balance, otherwise the client is not always getting best value.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I am most proud of building Maynard Design and being part of developing people’s careers. In terms of projects, the Jubilee Line was a great learning curve for me and being part of the core design team for the Elizabeth Line has been a real moment of pride – we are still buzzing from the recent opening. But I am also proud of smaller projects, such as a concrete street furniture range that we did for a British manufacturer. That was a real technical challenge but most enjoyable.
What do you value in people?
What I value most in my work are longstanding clients and partner relationships; and in people, it has got to be honesty, integrity and commitment.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the industry?
I would advise anyone starting a career to get out into the working environment even prior to university so you can observe and understand the dynamics of working life. Emotional business intelligence should be part of education. We are like a sponge at a younger age and understanding who you are working with is key – there is no substitute for practical experience. And in the design world, I would advise anyone to make sure they have a good understanding upfront of how things go together in the making process.