'Ask an Interior Designer' was a fitting title for Melbourne Polytechnic Interior Design students at the 2018 Melbourne Home Show. The students manned three stalls at this year’s huge industry expo and shared their newfound expertise on interior design and decoration over four hectic days.
The gig was such a success that Melbourne Polytechnic has been invited back next year and the students have won themselves some real-life clients. Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration teacher Linda Bistricic explained that students in their final months or recently graduated decorated their ‘pods’ and styled them as a consultation space. Once the doors of the expo flew open, the students were open for business providing free expert styling advice to people who prebooked appointments or just rolled up on the day.
‘People brought floor plans, inspirational images, anything that would help in the consultation,’ Linda said.
This gave the students live experience as ‘job ads require a graduate with two years’ experience so we are always thinking of ways of giving them that practical experience and this was a really good way’. We had all sorts of things, people asking colour advice, material advice.’
She said some clients had big projects that the grad students could take on at a student rate ‘so some students actually got work out of that and we’ve continued the consults back here at school.’
Linda said the final day was ‘absolutely flat out and we ended up with a waiting list so people were encouraged to come to the school on a Wednesday so we’ve made appointments here offering two hour consults at school.’
Linda was thrilled with the students’ success at the show. ‘It’s the best thing I’ve done, it was absolutely brilliant,’ she said.
‘The students got so much out of it, making people aware of Melbourne Polytechnic and the Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration course, it was just fantastic but really more than anything it was a great experience for the students. One client came back and brought her daughter the next day saying “you’ve got to come and see one of the students”. People were very happy with the information they received'.
Real World Experience
Centre stage in a pod of her own Australiana design with muddy colours, natural wood furniture, and laser-cut gum leaf background was student Jasmine Pei Pei Zhang. ‘I had an excellent time,’ she said. ‘It was a really good experience, it takes what we learn in class and connected to real life, it was really exciting.'
She said there was a big range of clients from young couples to retired people looking to downsize but have a lot of technology in their house and everything controlled by computer, which Jasmine found fascinating. She was also intrigued by a client who wanted to have a lift installed in their new apartment now as a kind of future proofing.
Jasmine also learned from the Home Show that you can design a building with stairs and later replace them with a lift in that position.
‘I’m really happy I got some clients from the Home Show,’ she said. ‘It’s good for students to be able to practice in real life. I realised I can do a project in real life, not just a school project.’
Career Change In Order
Jasmine says she is following her dream with a career change into interior design – she worked in accounting for 16 years since she migrated to Australia from Beijing, China, 16 years ago.
‘Three years ago I was doing an accounting job and I thought “this is not the job for me for the rest of my life”.
‘My personality is I like to talk, I like communication with all different people. I like drawing and painting and I like to make everybody’s house look beautiful. I started doing that as a hobby, and did a few of the houses for my friends.’
One of Jasmine’s friends said they would recommend her for commercial work, but she realised she needed to study and get a qualification.
‘Last year I made a decision to stop my accounting job and do full-time study and follow my dream. It was really crazy but now I think it’s worth it.’ She said it was very valuable to learn from Melbourne Polytechnic teachers with industry experience and they are really helpful, with none of the distance she felt from lecturers when she went to university.
‘With my course I feel like they treated me like a friend and they’re so patient explaining to me, especially for my English and I can see other international students benefit from that.’
Foundation Learning Put In To Practice
Linda said the diploma is a very rich course, comprising 19 units with breadth and depth to what is taught. ‘You cover everything from lighting to colour studies and colour theory, autoCAD for your technical drawing, residential construction, the design process, hand drawing, researching products on the market,’ she said.
‘It’s a really really great foundation to have if you’re wanting to work in the industry.’
New Season Tips
So what are the expert’s hottest interior designer top tips for this year?
Jasmine said it was all about sustainable, eco and natural products, natural colours and grey on walls, rather than strong colours as this makes it easier to change up the décor without having to repaint the walls.
Also, ‘Less is more, simple colours, some people do the whole house in a light colour, they don’t want any handles on the furniture, they don’t want any frames around cabinets, just one simple finish’.
If you would like to book an interior design consultation, please call Jess on 03 9269 8723
Interview / Photo Opportunity
Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener.