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(Designing the) Perfect Reception


Interior Design Q6 students applied their (considerable) design skills a little closer to home this term – the CAT reception area, to be specific!

When you run a Design School, the least you can hope for is a little free design advice from time to time – and that’s exactly what CAT got this term, thanks to our wonderful Advanced Interior Design and Technology (AIDT) program. As a part of their Theory of Interior Design 6310 (TID 6310) course, Term 6 students were set the task of redesigning CAT’s reception area.

“We have done this project four times previously. It gives the students an opportunity to interview a user and design to their needs and specifications,” says Jennifer Yeo, Department Head of Advanced Interior Design and Technology.

“For this project, students must interview the user, do a site audit, analyze a space to see where the key traffic areas are, and then they propose a solution that they feel is better suited to both the user and user groups, and try and solve any of the problems that have been identified. Things they have to think about are visibility, image and branding, functionality, and acoustics.”

“The most challenging part of the project was taking into consideration the variety of users who will be using and interacting with the space from day to day. I learned how important the reception desk is in representing the image of the school.”

“I appreciated having to interact with someone in real life to gather insight, just like a real client,” says Leia Finbow, AIDT student.

“It was also cool to learn more about the school and the image it portrays to outsiders, and understanding how to use that knowledge to guide the project.”

Of course, the ongoing Covid landscape also played a part in the design process.

“One of the unique things about this particular session is that they also had to address health and wellness – due to COVID – and the solutions had to be appropriate for both temporary and permanent installations,” explains Jennifer.

“It was challenging to address the COVID-19 protocols to maintain the aesthetics and the new CAT brand and reception desk design,” agrees Delane White, AIDT student.

“Some of the really interesting things about this year’s project were the materialities that were chosen by students,” discloses Yeo.

“Things like materials, context, sustainability and clean-ability for health and wellness all came into play. Ergonomics were also important because they address the interaction between the physical desk and the user groups – the receptionist and the people visiting.

Students also needed to look at the human body in relationship to space and the functional use of the desk itself. For example, they had to think about things like wheelchair accessibility.

Acoustics is another major design factor – how to mitigate sound transfer in a space that is very ‘live’, and also from the amount of activity in the vicinity.”

“The most challenging part of this project was blending function with aesthetics,” says Delane. “Stacey had specific requirements for the space and it was challenging to make them look pleasing, clean and organized to clients and students.”

“There is a range of design possibilities to solve one problem,” adds Leia, “there is no right or wrong, as long as the requirements have been met first.

By Deborah Lampitt-McConnachie