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Materials Day brings industry and learning together

by Gerrit Bester

As part of a packed Materials Day, the Department of Interior Design at the Faculty of Arts and Design invited nine manufacturers in this profession to the Arts Campus to determine future trends, demand for skills and suitable means of preparing students for work, among others.

According to lecturer Rochelle Scheepers, who organised the event, "the concept was devised during last year's TUT Arts Festival when students successfully engaged in a similar way with the design community."

The Department and AutoSpec, a search engine for architects, quantity surveyors, interior designers and homeowners looking for just the right products for their particular design needs, collaborated on the event.

Scheepers said students rely on manufacturers to complete their practical projects and initiatives like this provide them the chance to interact with the industry informally and possibly even meet their future employers.

She also stated that as the Materials component of the Interior Design curriculum has been discontinued, a Materials Day creates an opportunity for students to interact directly with industry.

The industry members represented included: Eva last, Dulux, Hansgrohe, Eurolux, PG Bison, Max on Top, Duravit, Polyflor and St Gobain.

Asked why industry and higher education need to work closer together, Tshego Ndlovu from AutoSpec said: “Materials Day is such an exciting way of introducing students to a variety of different manufacturers that are servicing the industry. This experience allows students to see and touch products from the participating manufacturers, obtain extensive knowledge on all products that manufacturers have to offer, and they get to walk away with info packs and goodies! This interaction paves the way for students to remember these manufacturers throughout their careers and write specifications for their products through the profound AutoSpec platform.”

The students were equally excited about the opportunity.

Siphesihle Zulu, a second-year Interior Design student, said that these events help as it is an opportunity to “educate themselves and their clients on the products that are used in their own spaces”.

A one-of-a-kind, the three-year Diploma in Interior Design is only available at TUT and will train graduates to use design concepts in the professional planning, designing, furnishing and equipping of residential, retail and commercial interior spaces. Students who meet the requirements will learn about computer-aided design, graphic design methods, interior lighting, acoustics, systems integration, colour harmony, the history of interior design and period styles. Programmes on offer extend to Postgraduate Diploma, Master’s and Doctoral studies.

Course content also includes training in furniture design, technical working drawings/drafting, structural design, building code and inspection regulations for commercial and residential design. Students enter the local market at interior design companies as part of the Work-integrated Learning programme. With the correct focus, they can become entrepreneurs as small business owners or freelance designers, consultants, drafters or renderers.

Scheepers added that Materials Day is a new tradition for the Interior Design Department. “The Department aims to go bigger and better with its Materials Day during the 2023 Arts Festival in September. The Materials Day will be an open invite event to all other design institutions and will facilitate networking between all the design community members.”

Materials Day, an initiative of the Department of Interior Design, aims to determine future trends, demand for skills and suitable means of preparing students for work, among others. It is also an ideal opportunity for students to interact directly with industry.


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