RMIT Interior Design

Master of Interior Design Exhibition 2020

RMIT Interior Design

Design Strategy,


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.

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.

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.

Roger Kemp, Introduction [×]

This design studio was developed in partnership with Scentre Group and examined the current challenges that face the retail sector due to the immediate impact from the COVID-19 social restrictions and more broadly the transformation of retail operations through online sales.

Students conducted detailed research into the history, current challenges and potential future of retail environments and supporting operations. Early explorations saw the experimentation with a hybridization of 3 brands and retail typologies including the fixed tenancy, kiosk, food court and event.

The final brief asked groups of students (design teams) to develop a response to the hypothetical scenario that a large anchor store decides to vacate Westfield Doncaster leaving a substantial amount of retail space that would require renewal. The brief therefore opens a larger question around future models of retail, the integration of new technologies, social models, and the mall. The brief also required the design teams to address how the ‘vacancy’ is managed in relation to shopper’s experience.

Key considerations in this brief included the implications of social distancing on retail layouts and planning for optimum workflow, a re-evaluation of tenancy sizes, possible hybridization of retail typologies (food court, kiosk, fixed tenancy), innovations in the display of goods and services, reconsiderations for stock location with delivery/pick-up, broader activity for shopping centres (temporary, seasonal, event), integration of online/virtual shopping experiences augmenting physical experiences.

Dr. Roger Kemp
Program Manager, Master of Interior Design

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