RMIT Interior Design

Master of Interior Design Exhibition 2020

RMIT Interior Design



Anthony Fryatt, Introduction [×]

This design studio was developed as a collaboration with the multidisciplinary design firm Bates Smart to examine the potential of co-working and what the future of this interior typology of workplace might be. 
Students examined how the co-working the phenomenon has evolved from self-employed pioneers such as Brad Neuberg to the established workplace typology it is now – a significant industry of global and local brands with a broad variety of business and community models. The desires, motivations and modes of co-working were considered, these were then extended through design prototypes that introduced partner brands into the co-working space through short term technology-driven experiences. 
During the studio, the impact of COVID-19 brought an abrupt and radical change to working patterns and the co-working industry. In response, the final brief established a future scenario where workers alternate between remote home working and less frequent visits to centralised HQs. Students were asked to develop a series of new co-working prototypes that rapidly and opportunistically facilitated a shift of co-working to a dispersed model throughout Melbourne’s inner and outer suburbs. 
Key requirements included the development of a rapid and scalable strategy for relocating a co-working brand over the short and mid-term, identification of emotional drivers and pragmatic needs of users, and building brand awareness in new locations through flexible leasing arrangements. Students then developed a series of prototypes that considered intended experience, new modes of safe working, alternative networking opportunities and a rethinking of adjacencies, relationships and amenities for workers. 

Dr. Anthony Fryatt
Program Manager, Bachelor of Interior Design (Honours)

Group I, Local Working [×]

New approaches to working and the workplace have been amplified with the impact of Covid-19. As the rates of infection from public transport has increased, many workers are hesitant to use certain facilities for travelling to the office. Adopting the Space & Co co-working brand, the following projects shift focus on smaller venues with safer localised working environments for its members within 3 separate locations. Each site aims to provide what is best for their community, cultures and co-working needs.

A site in Sydney Road, Coburg offers an opportunity for Space and Co to test a new design investigation whilst looking into developing a broader client market, reaching out to families and young professionals that no longer have the desire to commute to work. To establish a “town centre” within Coburg, the forever developing Coburg landscape is the perfect location to kickstart new concepts of coworking in this mixed cultural community. A casual and formal working environment is the ideal approach for meeting local suburban office style, where it’s a great opportunity to investigate how co-working can respond to Covid-19 through sensitive design.

The second site is one of the entry levels of the Digital Drive development by Bates Smart. The design aims to develop a new community space for local residents who are looking for a convenient work setting and lifestyle in the CBD. The design aims to also support this new development by taking advantage of the exposure to visitors using the co-working space.

The Eastland site offers the ability for users to conveniently attend to their work needs whilst having the infrastructural support of the shopping precinct. A short-term design strategy is applied gaining customer awareness and knowledge of the Space&Co brand to attract increased membership as the possibility of a ‘new normal’ prevails. The space targeted the local community who need a space for quick use or a casual meeting. The location within the retail precinct supports extended operating hours.

Chee Yung Siau, Co–Paradise, Group I, Local Working [×]

This project comprised the design of co working spaces in 3 locations in Melbourne, Australia: Docklands in the CBD, Eastland in the eastern suburbs, Coburg in the northern suburbs.

The design of the co-working space in Docklands recognised its centralised location and the need to respond to a multi-cultural demographic with some diversity in working modes. It emphasised the use of outdoor spaces and a central hub for meeting. A stepped area with an elevated stage is designed as a platform to enable group interaction. Biophilia is a strong consideration of the design, with planting and clear access to outdoor space offering an integrated and a harmonious relationship between occupants and the vegetation.

The Eastland site is located within an existing retail tenancy. Due to the limited and narrow space, scaffolding components are used to create multi-level spaces, maximising the space used. The lower ground floor is designed for a “grab and go” concept for quick use and pick up. The upper floor is arranged for greater privacy of working and meetings. This area is aimed at small groups who require an extended duration. The separation of spaces through additional levels aims to reduce the interaction between users, retaining their privacy and providing a vertical ‘social distancing’.

The Coburg space, situated in a high street retail setting, took advantage of the street frontage to provide an event-focused meeting and seating area for neighbourhood or community needs. The rear section provided more privacy and opportunities for group working. Multiple work cubicles allow for individual workspaces. An internal garden with pathways provides continuity in this space and encourages a positive relationship between workers and establish a communal and neighbourly atmosphere.

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Rachel Ren, Co–Paradise, Group I, Local Working [×]

‘The Flow’ is a pair of co-working spaces designed in response to the current COVID situation in Melbourne, Australia. Designed for the co-working brand Space&Co, the two sites focus on bringing the natural environment into the workspace. Both projects aim to bring innovation for individual workers, small and larger companies, and the local community.

The two spaces are differentiated by their operational timeframe. One of the spaces, situated in the Eastland retail precinct in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, operates as a temporary ‘pop-up’. The other site is located in Coburg, in the northern suburbs of Melbourne and is conceived as a long term proposition.

The Eastland co-working space focuses on restricting people’s behaviour and movement by separating out the functions and activities in the space to provide appropriate social distancing. The Coburg site has a longer term aspiration of embracing a decentralised and localised work space. This iteration has an emphasis on supporting the local community within the context of a ‘new normal’.

A central element of the designs is the introduction of nature, paying respect to it and to reminding people to value everything what we have right now. The space provides a place to be close to the natural environment during working times.

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Group II, Collaborating with COVID-19 [×]

This proposal is an adaptive system designed in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. This model offers a new approach for workplace design which facilities networking opportunities within a COVID safe environment.

Our project aims to establish a model for co-working spaces which allows higher risk operations to continue during the pandemic such as running workshops, collaborations, team activities and group meetings by introducing specific spatial systems such as display boards, physical & non-physical barriers and ensuring specific times & capacity limits is allocated for exhibitions and meetings. This allows for networking opportunities for both the business and individuals whilst considering the wellbeing of all attendants.

This system is intended to allow co-working brand, Soho Works, to implement and insert the design across their varied locations, with high efficiency and operability. Our proposed system includes physical structures that are modularised and flexible as recommended by the National Health Commission of the PRC (2020) in their guideline to build temporary, hospital facilities under the impact of COVID-19 . In addition, this model can be implemented in other environments including remote and working from home conditions.

The design includes a series of visual cues and virtual applications that integrate the working model and culture of the brand and its members. The virtual application encourages the existing members to continue to participate and establish connections within the brand and the local culture. These proposed strategies encourage and promote a positive image for Soho Works to both the local communities and the user.

Overall, we are establishing a connection between the brand, its members, and local communities through designed visual cues, spatial arrangement, physical and no-physical barriers and virtual applications that reflect and promote the quality of Soho Works whilst protecting the health and wellbeing of its members.

Yang Yang, Co–Paradise, Group II, Collaborating with COVID-19 [×]

‘Working Translucent’ is a workspace project focused on developing a co-working business model in the context of COVID-19. The project features modularised units with specific spatial arrangements, narratives and activities. ‘Working Translucent’ aims to communicate the co-working brand Soho Works to the public and provide social connection and encounter while satisfying health and safety requirements during this pandemic. The project expresses the value of the Soho Work brand to the public, generating more possibilities for the brand to grow and to continue evolving.

The project covers two-sites, 219-221 Sydney Rd (a retail showroom in Coburg, Melbourne) and in Eastland shopping mall (an existing restaurant tenancy). The duration for each site varies in recognition of the surrounding context. The Coburg site has a 24 month duration and transforms this retail showroom into a modulated workshop that reflects the brand values of Soho Work.

The Eastland project is a temporary proposition, with a lifespan of 12 months. The existing kitchen is kept intact as it may be useful for the next occupants. The focus of this project has been to insert supporting infrastructure and facilities to transform this site into an appropriate co-working space within a post-COVID-19 situation.

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Vaibhavi Setlur Raghuram, Co–Paradise, Group II, Collaborating with COVID-19 [×]

This project proposes a design which allows the co-working space - Soho Works to maintain its branding consistency whilst ensuring the spaces are safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. This proposal looks to implement the design across two of Soho Works suburban locations, Sydney Road, Coburg and Eastland, Ringwood. The aim of the design is to ensure social distancing is maintained throughout the working space but also to create an interactive environment for its users. The design explores the parameters required to achieve a safe working environment whilst maintaining a connection between the brand, its members, and the local communities. This is achieved by alternate arrangements of workstations, using partition panels; translucent and opaque to provide privacy, flexibility, and visual connection. The modes of working facilitate both casual and formal programs, consisting of both solo desks and collaborative spaces.

The design of the Coburg site focuses on the spatial arrangement and the interaction with the local community. The potential of the site is explored by the arrangement of modules which are effectively distributed across the site considering social distancing and other safety measures.

Within the Eastland site, the existing structure is retained and modularised facilities are inserted into the site. The interior space was opened up to the outdoor elements, providing a change in environment for its users. This design defines the spatial organisation by ensuring less densely occupied working spaces are offered, which not only meets social distancing requirements, but can provide opportunities for engagement with wider working networks. The design engages the co-workers and generates a feeling of relevance and interactivity. It also provides opportunity to cater for a disrupted and flexible market of workers whilst this scenario threatens current co-working models.

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Yiran Li, Co–Paradise, Group II, Collaborating with COVID-19 [×]

This project is in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic in Melbourne, Australia. It aims to address the difficulties that co-working space ‘Soho Works’ faces in order to maintain safe and profitable shared spaces for Melbourne’s creative community.

The overall strategy of the project is threefold:

  1. To establish a connection between the brand, its members, and the local communities through visual cues that reflect the quality of Soho Works.
  2. To promote the brand and to connect it with the local community using specifically designed programs and features.
  3. To protect the health and well-being of all members through the program, material choices, spatial arrangement, physical and non-physical barriers, as well as virtual applications.

This project presents a series of challenges due to several constraints that the pandemic presents for co-working spaces. These include social distancing requirements, capacity limits to maintain appropriate distancing, and restrictions on eating in communal spaces. These factors have encouraged a design which ensures Soho Works has what it needs to operate under these conditions whilst maintaining true to its core brand.

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Group III, ‘Second Home’ Co working Prototype [×]

This group project investigates the current operating model of the co-working brand Second Home in light of the significant challenges associated with COVID-19. Second Home aims to provide an environmentally appealing, socially integrative and aesthetically beautiful working environment tailored to the needs of innovative start-ups. Our proposal emphasises a biophilic approach where natural forms, ample daylight and plants are used to support people’s well-being.

Our approach features bold and vivid colours, organic shapes and geometric patterns demonstrated in three locations across Melbourne, Australia. Our vision was to look at the potential coworking situation before and after covid-19 and to bring the coworking brand Second Home’s culture and design concept into the localized suburban areas. We had three vacant sites to propose a series of operating models and we aimed to adapt each in response to the existing surroundings and to build a tighter network for local people in social and cultural context. We intended to create different modes of working for each site because of their varied nature.

The Eastland site in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs was designed as a pop-up, short term coworking space adding an experimental layer to an existing community centre. The site in Coburg, in Melbourne’s northern suburbs is situated within a close-knit community. This medium-term communal coworking space, provides casual spaces for meeting and workshops. The third site is located on Digital Drive, at Dockland in Melbourne’s CBD. We proposed a permanent coworking office to support the diverse user group and higher demand with increased density.

Jin Song, Co–Paradise, Group III, ‘Second Home’ Co–working Prototype [×]

‘Second home’ co-working space in Eastland's, Melbourne is the focus of this project in order to establish new co-working models during the COVID-19 pandemic. The design strategy is based on what role design can have in encouraging social interaction and networking opportunities within co-working environments in the current COVID situation. What kind of space can encourage users creativity in within the co-working model?

Second home in Coburg focuses on the importance of community encounters and proposes the use of coloured, transparent acyclic panels, transparent polyester, steel board, and interior greenery to create an interactive community workspace that promotes health awareness, sustainability, and efficiency. Using the internal greenery to generate atmosphere and connect the users to the natural environment, this project attracts attention and encourages engagement from the local community.

Second home in Eastland focuses on the relationship between inside and outside, taking into consideration its surrounding environment, such as the local library and nearby restaurants to facilitate a community minded space.

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Elicy Lay, Co–Paradise, Group III, ‘Second Home’ Co–working Prototype [×]

The issues generated by the pandemic have forced many workers to work from home in suburban areas, reducing the number of people travelling to the CBD. This project will look at dispersing working model prototypes of the co-working brand, Second Homes, into a more localised area. The two vacant sites that were considered in this project are located on Sydney road, Coburg and on Digital Drive, docklands.

The design concept looks at what function and role partitions have within the interior space. In light of Covid-19, the partition has been utilised to separate and isolate individuals and further disconnect groups to ensure safety restrictions are adhered to. This design proposal aims to explore the use of partitions in a more harmonious way to further define the space’s purpose and program, as well as increasing privacy rather than separation to create a sense of community within the co-working space.

The site in Coburg investigates a casual floor plan which allows for small group collaboration and workshops, reflecting the tight knit community in this suburb. The site in Docklands investigates a formalised co-working model, consisting of private working spaces, meeting rooms and a communal library to cater to the dynamic demographic in the metropolitan area.

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Wei-Yang Tseng, Co–Paradise, Group III, ‘Second Home’ Co–working Prototype [×]

This projects looks at co-working spaces and their ability to foster interaction between individuals as well as providing flexible spaces for workers and businesses alike. These spaces provide an opportunity to exchange knowledge and skills between fields, be inspired by diff¬erent ways of thinking, and offer higher levels of productivity due to the active and flexible environment. The current co-working model presents a number of dangers to its users during the COIVID-19 situation. This project aims to provide a series of prototypes which keeps co-working users safe whilst maintaining an energetic and valuable environment.

This project looks at two different co-working spaces in Eastland and Coburg. A semi-open approach is proposed for both of the sites as the key response to keeping workers safe using social distancing measures. Three arc panels are set into concentric circle tracks to encourage users to decide the degree of openness between them when they are using the space. In addition to these panels, both designs use various floor levels, allocated seating and indoor planting to encourage a safer co-working space.

The co-working site in Eastland is predominantly used by individuals and working professionals. Therefore, many meeting spaces must be provided in the design. On the other hand, the target group for Coburg’s co-working space is locals and smaller groups so communal spaces are provided for workshops and smaller activities.

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Muqiu Wang, Co–Paradise, Group III, ‘Second Home’ Co–working Prototype [×]

This workspace project focuses on ‘Second Home’ co-working site and its environmentally appealing, socially integrative, and aesthetically pleasing working environment. Under the current covid-19 situation, Second Home are looking to open offices in Melbourne suburbs to meet the demand of people working away from the CBD. The brand looks to serve different local groups and to build a community through local engagement and active networking tools.

This project looks at how design can affect the quality of human experience, and shape users’ behavior whilst maintaining key features of the Second Home brand. The design uses ¬organic shapes and forms, bright and vivid colors, translucent materials, working pods, flexible working areas, and biophilic design with abundant planting incorporated throughout.

My design intention across two sites is to provide a flexible, rejuvenating coworking space, tailored to the needs of local communities with the integration of different natural layers and providing the experience of space and place. For Eastland, the whole space is designed with fluidity and flexibility to generate a dynamic and open space for it varied users. Whilst in Docklands, the design tries to capture the mood of the local demographic by incorporating the surrounding landscape and to represent the juxtaposition of nature and the city into the design.

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Group III, The Bay [×]

‘The Bay’ proposes the renewal of a vacant Myers store in the Westfield Doncaster shopping centre with a focus on social interaction. This project aims to transform the site into a community centre for residents, promoting a lifestyle which generates a feeling of belonging and connection with the shopping centre and its community.

The design proposal, including a new physical structure, operation system and marketing strategies, each work to support each other, forming the foundation of the Westfield image, both visually and virtually. The intention of the design is to push the boundary of the current shopping mall experience, exploring its limitless potentials. Although each element of the design is intended to work together, these elements can be applied individually. The operation system provides the potential, generating opportunity for our future. The physical structure holds and extends these potentials, and the marketing strategies are used to communicate and express all these functions to the users.

'The Bay' performs like a beachside location, providing open space, and opportunities for social connection. The project proposes a physical platform to bridge areas within the centre. In addition to this bridge, modular elements are placed throughout the centre which have the potential to evolve as the community needs. The site allows people to gather, celebrate their life and their success, enjoy the harvest, meet and share a moment together.

'The Bay’ proposes a place for community, to play, to relax, to work, to love and to connect. The Bay is a shopping centre, but also a friend, a figure that will always be with us, grow with us, provide care and shelter to protect us. The Bay is a place for living, gathering, and connecting.

RMIT Master of Interior Design
Catalogue 2020

Suzie Attiwill, Introduction [×]

2020 has been a momentous year for each and every one of us – in collective, shared global ways and as individuals in specific, distinctive ways. We have been connected and isolated simultaneously. Our Masters’ students have shown extraordinary commitment in undertaking a new program and for many of them has also involved courage as they have moved to a new city and away from friends and family.

As we emerge from a ‘state of disaster’ in Victoria, there is a growing awareness of the immensity of the impact of Covid in all areas of life and it is becoming apparent that 2020 will be a watershed moment, a critical turning point in our shared global history. One can imagine looking back at 2020 from 2050 and that it will only be then that the impact and change becomes clear. At this point in time, we are immersed the event unfolding.

However here in this exhibition, in the projects and through the students’ designs and ways of working, we encounter and sense the seeds and emergence of this future. In this virtual interior that opens up and experiments with the experiential, atmospheric and co-presence; engaging spatial, temporal and digital technologies that have provoked us to recognise that these practices will continue to evolve as a critical part of interior design practice

The Master of Interior Design joins the Bachelor of Interior Design (Hons) in the suite of programs that compose RMIT Interior Design. The four-year bachelor degree was launched in 1949 and has been continuously offered under various titles over the past 70 years. Last year we celebrated 80 years of Interior Design at RMIT which means the very first program was offered in 1939, the year that World War 2 begun. The Masters is launched at a similarly confronting and challenging time in a year impacted a global pandemic. In many ways this is very apt as Interior Design is a practice that attends to the way people live; to the relationship between people and their environment in terms of physical and psychological parameters.

The rationale for offering a Master of Interior Design continues the 1949 ambitions held by our predecessors and our alumni in the profession. It is the only dedicated Masters in Australia and as a professional degree, it makes the claim and provides the opportunity for interior designers to have a Masters degree qualification alongside their peers in Architecture and Landscape Architecture. While there is no professional registration requirements, the Masters is critical in terms of recognising value and standing of Interior Design as profession and also ensuring equity within commercial practice.

We have also deliberately situated the program within the Asia Pacific region as part of a network of distinctive concerns, projects, social and cultural contexts that connect with our alumni and partners. The ethos of the Masters is to address key issues that are being grappled within this context and to bring the strengths of RMIT Interior Design in conceptualisation, strategy, venturous practice and transformative design to projects and briefs with industry partners and clients.

2020 will be another memorable year for RMIT Interior Design and as we open up to the future, I would like to congratulate our first 4 Master of Interior Design graduates – Yang Yang, Yiran Le, Joyce Song and Rachel Ren – and wish them the very best. We look forward to continuing to work with Masters students who will continue into 2021 as well as welcoming those who will join us next year.

Thank you to Dr Roger Kemp, Program Manager, who was also the key lead in the Master’s program development; to Dr Adam Nash (Associate Professor, Virtual Interior) for his expertise and creation of the exhibition space, and as coordinator of Interior Practices; and to our Masters studio partners in 2020: Bates Smart, City Harbour and Scentre Group.

Dr. Suzie Attiwill
Associate Dean Interior Design

Roger Kemp, Welcome [×]

Welcome to the RMIT University Master of Interior Design Exhibition for 2020. This catalogue and virtual exhibition gather together work undertaken by our inaugural group of students to this new program. We commenced our year with an introductory session on the roof of the Design Hub in Melbourne, then proceeded to a local Pizza restaurant for dinner. We held an introductory class the following day with Associate Professor Adam Nash introducing the group to ideas of the ‘virtual interior’. A day later, we were in lockdown with the spread of COVID-19 rising. The two semesters that followed, like many of our colleagues around the world were conducted through multiple digital platforms, online meetings, phone conversations, text messages and emails with a few frustrations, shifts in time zones but plenty of laughs.

The Master of Interior Design at RMIT is structured around Partnered Design Studios that shift focus each semester from commercial, civic, institutional and social projects. In semester one we partnered up with Bates Smart to look at the changing face of workplace. The final brief intercepted the pressing issues associated with the impact of COVID-19, embracing a decentralised urban model of working proposing a series of post-COVID suburban co-working hubs. In semester two, we partnered with Scentre Group to examine the current challenges to retail through both the impact of COVID-19 and an increasing proportion in online sales. We took the opportunity to rethink retail afforded through speculating on the loss of a high-profile anchor store at the Westfield Doncaster shopping complex in greater Melbourne, Australia.

I would like to congratulate and thank this generous and tight-knit group of students for their unwavering commitment and engagement in the program over the past year. To the four students graduating at this time, I wish you all the very best for a successful future. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the staff who have participated in the teaching and development of the program – Anthony Fryatt, Adam Nash, Suzie Attiwill, Ying-Lan Dann, Kate Geck and Andy Miller. Thanks also to our partners Bates Smart (Michelle Skinner), City Harbour and Scentre Group (Rebecca Burk) for the encouragement and support over the year.

Dr. Roger Kemp,
Program Manager, Master of Interior Design