Last year, we celebrated 80 years of RMIT Interior Design at The Capitol; we also celebrated 70 years of the four-year undergraduate degree. Now in 2020, it feels like a watershed moment, a critical turning point. We cannot yet make sense of it other than experiencing a sense of profound change and an awareness of the effects and affects manifesting in everything, often surprising and unexpected, positive and negative.
If someone had said at last year’s INDEX that I would be giving a speech as an avatar and that INDEX would be on a server located in Tokyo being powered by electricity from Japan; that we would arrange and install an exhibition of the work of 76 students in a virtual interior composed of micro-environments - I would not have believed them. It would have seemed such an impossible transformation in a short period of time.
And it is amazing! An incredible experiment that opens up to the future. INDEX 2020 as a virtual interior is so much more than an online exhibition. We can all be in there together, we can talk and move around as we view the micro-environments of students’s work.
We were very fortunate to have Adam Nash join us as part of the discipline team at the beginning of the year. His appointment as Associate Professor, Virtual Interior is part of an overall discipline strategy to gather momentum around the spatial and temporal technologies in relation to the future of interior design practice, research and teaching. Incredible serendipity!
We entered 2020 already filled with anxiety and tragedy as bushfires raged and smoke blanketed cities. Then COVID-10 spread across the world and continues to have devastating impacts. By week 4 in semester 1, everyone – students and staff – started working remotely in their living rooms/bedrooms/kitchens and this will continue until the end of 2020 at least. Many students have been isolated not only from friends but also families and their hometowns. The lockdown in Melbourne seemed to never end.
And during this time, as final year major project students undertaking a major project, they had to create something. They had to do this situated surrounded by an outside that had changed significantly. There were no longer clear expectations; habits and routines disrupted. To create something in this state is incredibly challenging and yet so vital as their projects open new worlds, ways of living, values and visions at a time when this is critical.
There is a very real and compelling sense that we can never go back to what was before – and in many respects there is a rising resistance to ‘normal’ and ‘real world’. “We are all in this together” immersed in an event unfolding that when we look back in twenty years we will see significant transformations seeded in what is happening here tonight in both the students’s projects as well as the virtual interior of INDEX 2020. The students who are graduating here are the ones who carry this experience, who have developed their skills and capacities in the midst of all of this and whose practice is the future.
Congratulation to all our students on what you have achieved in 2020 and the projects, concerns and aspirations that you are taking forward into 2021 and way beyond.
Associate Professor Suzie Attiwill
Associate Dean Interior Design