What’s it like being a student in central London?
I feel really privileged to be able to study in central London, with so much easy access to resources and inspiration just outside my doorstep. In addition to the countless museums and exhibits, London has just so much history and diversity that it’s inspiring even just meandering around the city streets.
You’ve decided to change career and retrain, to us that takescourage, how do you cope being a student once again?
Returning to student life was definitely challenging and it took some adjustment to not have a regular work schedule and income! That said, I was much more focused in my studies than I had been when I was pursuing my first degree. As it was a fairly significant sacrifice to make the switch, it also compelled me to make every second count.
How would you rate Interior Design at American Intercontinental University in London?
I would rate my course quite highly, particularly with respect to the class sizes and attention of the faculty. Our design classes are very small, with about a max of 8 students each, giving us quite a bit of 1:1 time with our tutors. This made for an engaging and productive learning environment for me. Additionally, because AIU London has faculty who also work part-time and are directly plugged into the industry, I felt that what I was learning was immediately relevant for when I begin my career. It’s also hard to beat the central London location of the university. The downside to such a premium location, however, is that we have limited studio space and do not have any workshop facilities at the moment.
Best advice you were given during the course?
“Just try it out.” A big part of our design development process is to test out ideas and we can’t be afraid to just try something out and see if it works. It sounds simple but it’s easy to just sit and stare at a problem or stick to a safe choice rather than taking the extra effort to test something quickly.
What do you tell people thinking about studying interior design?
I first check their preconceptions of what interior design is to make sure it’s what they’re looking for. To me, it’s a great marriage of problem solving and art. Coming from an engineering and innovation background, I think it’s been particularly suitable for me because, at the end of the day, I’m trying to solve a problem given certain constraints but I’m also trying to solve it in the most innovative and aesthetic way possible. It’s a very exciting and rewarding pursuit. But it’s also challenging, competitive and time consuming; anyone interested in pursuing this field of study needs to prepared and committed to put in the time and effort. It can be tiring at times, but if you really enjoy it (as I have), it won’t really feel like that much work!
How much research do you do for a project?
There is a quite a bit a research that goes into a project. First off, there’s understanding the needs of the client, users and how that fits into the overall program. Then of course there’s understanding the site, both the context of the area and the building itself. It’s important to really understand the history of the area as well as the building before determining a suitable approach. Once I have a design strategy or concept, then I also look at precedent studies and other inspiration as a jumping off point.
How was Free Range for you?
Free Range has been a really great experience for me. It’s been inspiring to see the work of my fellow graduates. And it’s also just an honour to have my work on display in London!
Visit Lisa Chan to see more works or contact email@example.com to offer a job. Images above are from Rhythm & Hues Design Agency and Popcorn Retail Store projects.