Life at BCI: Amanda Harkness

We spoke to Amanda Harkness who is celebrating 5 years with BCI!

“Do something that you love doing.”

Life at BCI Amanda Harkness Life at BCI Amanda Harkness






Where in the world are you and what do you do? 

My name is Amanda Harkness. I’m based in Auckland, New Zealand and I am the deputy editor and interior editor of Architecture NZ magazine and the convenor of the Interior Awards. 


What has your BCI journey looked like so far? 

I started at AGM (the magazine arm of the business) about 6 years ago as a freelance writer, working across the stable of magazines and the online platform, ArchitectureNow. After a year, I became editor of Houses magazine and deputy editor of Architecture NZ, to editor Chris Barton, who came on board at almost the same time as me. 

After the loss of Houses, Urbis and Interior magazines (at the start of 2020), we incorporated some of Interior’s content into Architecture NZ and later that year, I took on the role as convenor of the Interior Awards. This is my fourth year in the position. 


What achievements are you most proud of? 

I really enjoyed being editor of Houses magazine, albeit for only a year. It’s a small market here in Aotearoa New Zealand and there was a lot of competition in that retail space on the newsstand, but I enjoyed the more architectural focus of the magazine when compared to the other consumer titles. 

I also think the Interior Awards is a great programme – it really unites and focuses the industry in a competitive but collegial way and the livestream judging aspect is unique in this country. Once again, it’s a small industry but it’s made up of some very creative, special people and it’s rewarding to be able to promote them and their projects. Launching the Community Impact category last year was particularly rewarding and meaningful and the industry seems very grateful of the initiative. 


What do you enjoy most about your role? 

I’m a naturally curious and sociable person and I’ve always loved architecture, art and design. I studied year one architecture at Victoria University in Wellington many moons ago and loved every minute so after years in publishing (ACP Media), advertising (Saatchi & Saatchi), TV (TVNZ) and PR, it’s nice to have come full circle to publishing and to be able to focus on an industry that I’m so interested in. 


What does a typical workday look like for you? 

As deputy editor, I’m involved with the planning of each issue alongside our editor, Chris Barton. We look to publish a good mix of projects and practices, from public, commercial, education and heritage to hospitality, residential and interior. Once we’ve agreed the content for a given issue, I work closely with a team of contributors, including writers and photographers, along with the architects and our art director André Kini, to pull everything together. I also work with our Sales Manager, Mark Lipman, to help identify advertising opportunities based on the projects we’re reviewing and our ArchitectureNow editor, Jacinda Rogers, for stories that might be better suited for online. 

Any given day is about being across a large amount of material for the magazine and online and keeping everything moving. I write the front of the magazine’s Across the Board section and Chris and I both edit the content which comes in from contributors. I also source all the imagery, which includes drawings, plans and photography. The best thing about my day is that there’s always something new and interesting to report on, be it projects, people, industry initiatives or awards. When the Interior Awards are in swing, I’m working with our publisher, Nathan Inkpen, on the programme, including choosing a jury and marketing and promoting the event. I then move into shortlisting, livestreamed judging, preparing finalist and winner coverage and, ultimately, fronting the awards event. 


Who or what inspires you in your career? 

Great architects and designers, especially those who are humble, genuine and interested. And who want to do the best for both people and planet. In Aotearoa, we seem to have many incredibly talented architects throughout the country and then we’re fortunate to learn from many visiting international architects through our role in the media. 


What are some fun facts about you that others might not know? 

As the daughter of a newspaper publisher, I grew up all over the show but had the most fun in Fiji and France. I studied at Stanford University in California (following in my father’s footsteps, although he did a Masters and I did a much shorter publishing course) and I also studied at the Sorbonne. I speak better French than I do Fijian. 


What is the best career advice you have ever received?  

Do something that you love doing. While it would be great to earn more, it’s often a trade-off. When my son took his first full-time job last year, he had two offers on the table, one earning considerably more than the other, and I passed on the same advice, and I think he’s very happy where he is. I guess what goes hand-in-hand with that is less is often more – you don’t need a lot of material things to live your best life. 

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