Alison Lewis was working in finance before she had the opportunity to see if her passion for design could become a career.
She’s now close to finishing her Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration and already working in the industry.
“After my first week at Melbourne Polytechnic I went, ‘Yep, this is definitely for me.’”
“While working in finance was challenging and rewarding, I always had a true passion for design and decorating. Then I had the opportunity to try a different path, to see if I could transform my passion into a career in the industry. After my first week at Melbourne PolytechnicI went, ‘Yep, this is definitely for me.’”
“I looked at a few different interior design courses, but the curriculum at Melbourne Polytechnic really appealed to me. The first year was the learning phase, which was really enjoyable, particularly learning the different elements and principles that create good design. The second year is about applying those skills to projects. It’s been a challenging course and I now appreciate how much is actually involved in the interior design profession – it’s so much more than just aesthetics.”
“The teachers are great, they have a mix of industry experiences, which is essential to prepare you for the industry and help you avoid making mistakes in the ‘real world’. I really enjoy TAFE because I get to apply my skills to real-life situations in a practical sense, rather than just focusing on written reports.”
In June 2012, Alison was awarded $1000 for her interior design of the Ballan Hospital redevelopment, part of a real, assessable project to design the interiors of the hospital’s new reception, administration and emergency areas, as well as an X-ray room and 10 acute rooms. Students created concept boards showing rendered three dimensional representations of each room using ArchiCAD, as well as displays of their proposed paint, carpet, veneer and vinyl finishes.
“It was a real life situation, which really bought the project to life. I loved putting together the materials and finishes, as well as deciphering the architectural specifications. The award was a huge confidence boost, but being able to see my design brought to life was reward in itself.”
Alison has already begun to pick up some interior design work through Melbourne Polytechnic.
“Some past students work at Living Edge Rental and they contacted the Program Coordinator looking for a part-time assistant. I now work for them two days a week assisting the stylist’s with property styling – layouts, picking the appropriate furniture and accessories to suit the style of the house and merchandising the floor so that external stylists and clients selling their home can come into the showroom and easily select pieces.”
Alison is also busy with her 16-week work experience placement at Hirsch Bedner Associates in Carlton where she is helping to organise the materials library, assist designers with preparing and assembling material and finishes boards, mounting and labelling of finish control boards and assisting with compilation of specification documents.
“Even though I’ve only just started my placement, I’ve already learned so much about the way an interior design firm functions. The placement gives me the opportunity to be exposed to different designers and the way they work, the vast array of materials and finishes available and what makes a successful interior design firm tick. I’m really enjoying my time there”.
Nearing the end of her course, Alison is contemplating life after Melbourne Polytechnic.
“I’d eventually like to open my own business and work for myself, but in the meanwhile I’d like to continue to learn and gain more experience working for a small-to-medium sized interior design firm. I think roles in smaller firms offer you a variety of experiences, which is necessary in order to be a successful and progressive Interior Designer.”
Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration