Phil has always had an interest in design, with his first hands-on experience coming out of High School when he worked in a civil engineering office for the Ministry of Works. He thoroughly enjoyed the work which was focussed on large earthworks, roading and highway design.
He made the move into architectural design in 1989, working under architect Brian Elliott.
"It was there that I developed a much stronger interest in design," he says.
After initially completing a Civil Engineering qualification, Phil completed some study towards a diploma of architectural technology. Always keen to learn more, Phil made the most of his opportunities and has continued study in many forms since.
"I picked up various other studies as well completing a Diploma in Counselling. I even took a whole career detour into completely unrelated interests, and made the shift into working as a counsellor and group therapist."
He views this period in his life as a journey of personal growth, working part-time as a counsellor for some time while he continued as a self-employed designer. While design and counselling may sound like entirely different career paths, Phil says his unique experience has helped him along the way.
"In many ways it's all quite relevant, it was a great grounding in humanity and creativity. I learnt to open my ears and to listen properly. It really influences the way you hear people, what you understand, and the way you interpret things."
Phil went on to start Emerge Architectural Design in 2005 with business partner Marty Horn. They're located in Palmerston North, but regularly undertake and complete work all over the North Island.
"We tend to attract a lot of mid to high end residential work and a good range of commercial projects as well. We enjoy it all, but I get approached more to do the residential side of things, while Marty does most of our commercial work"
They also do a lot of work on energy efficient homes. Phil says he really believes in the philosophy behind this work, and it's an approach he's always keen to promote with his clients.
"These ideas are making their way into most of the homes I'm designing one way or another, sometimes even just passively through orientation and natural ventilation. I'm always thinking of how to incorporate energy efficient principles into a design."
It's a trend Phil expects to continue, with his clients becoming more aware of the benefits of living in an energy efficient home.
"There's a real financial pay-out, not just off the grid homes, but having a home that performs well summer and winter is just becoming common-sense to people."
Emerge Architectural Design has gone on to win 11 regional and national ADNZ | Resene Architectural Design Awards - something Phil says he's very proud of.
"The projects I've entered have always been successful with the clients, or have exceeded what they've imagined. That's always a really good indicator to me."
Phil's been a member of ADNZ for 13 years, and says he remains one for the same reason he initially joined - he enjoys the interaction facilitated by the organisation.
"There's just a real generosity with ADNZ, it's a true community, and you make these sort of friendships and connections with other members that you end up meeting again. I've met with people down south, north of Auckland, all over the place. I feel comfortable giving them a call if I'm in the neighbourhood."
Take a look at Phil’s ADNZ profile for more info