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Ash becomes the architect of her career

Designing her own home put Ash Wilford on the path to creating unique spaces.

The former call-centre analyst decided to change careers after buying a house off-the-plan with her partner and deciding to design it themselves.

"Customising your own home is a big job, and working with builders and designers opened my eyes to what's possible," explained Ash.

"I also have a lot of family working in the building industry, so I've been exposed to design before, and I know it's more attuned to me. I'd just never designed before."

With her interest in interior design sparked, she decided to explore how to make it her career. When looking at different available courses, she noticed that TAFE Queensland offered the most hands-on learning approach.

"I was looking at different interior design courses that would lead into architecture, so I was exploring options that gave a good mixture of both."

"Initially I applied for an interior design diploma, but then found the bachelor qualification offered a dynamic, agile and creative interior design which was exactly what I wanted."

Now studying the Bachelor of the Built Environment (Interior Architecture) (ABB002)Ash is thriving thanks to intensive tutorials with experienced teachers who are guiding her.

"My teachers are from the industry and are very artistic, detail-oriented, and good at challenging me to think outside the box. Their suggestions give me ideas that branch into different directions - which is what you need when designing."

Ash's classmates from various study disciplines compliment her teachers, whom she bounces ideas off.

"My classmates are from five different other courses, so I'm getting a lot of exposure to people from different disciplines and talking to them helps me to develop my skill set."

"We come up with ideas together for different projects, which has been helpful. Working with the third years and being exposed to where they're at versus where we're at is good to see where we can take our skills."

Ash's assignments include physical and digital modelling using software including SketchUp, ProCreate, Illustrator and Photoshop – the same used in the industry.

"When I started the course, I had no skills in any design software, but I'm getting more confident in my skills every day," she explained.

"While I use my computer, TAFE has computers with the software you need. I'm also doing 3D Art, and the art rooms are fantastic. The classroom has the same light boxes you'd use in the industry – so the facilities and equipment are helping me gain strong design skills."

The combination of learning from experienced teachers and classmates who share the same passion for design in an intensive learning environment has Ash feeling confident that her career change is on track.

"In the first semester, we did some basic design classes and then in the second semester, we went one step further with learning what makes them correctly designed."

Ash and her class analyse different urban environments and public spaces to understand their context in modern society.

In doing so, she's developing creative and critical-thinking skills to help her see the potential of interior environments. This parallels the practical skills she's growing to bring her ideas to life using digital design software.

"We go from having a rough idea of what we want to design to using digital and physical models to bring them to life. As we do that, we learn different design aspects to help progress them to spaces that people want to experience and interact with."

TAFE Queensland's connection to the industry is her professional development, which sees students attend industry panels and visit sites and the course syllabus guided by potential employers.

"This is the course to take if you want to get an architectural understanding and design. You get a broader understanding of how to create inspirational spaces and interiors with interior spatial design."

"I'm happy with how the course is going. There's a good balance of theory and practice that you'd want to learn for the industry. I recommend TAFE Queensland to anyone wanting an interior design career.