Design = opinion

You can’t design without an opinion. Opinions create values – and values make design authentic and meaningful, not flimflam driven by wasteful and disposable trends. 

How do we teach this?

By challenging our students to design an experience rather than an interior, where the quality of the conceptual idea and how this story is told says as much about creativity than the end design.

Most of the time, as interior designers, we have the constraints of a building to work within. This project does not have this context – it’s a blank canvas that needs rigorous creative thinking to explore what physical form their experience takes.


The Project – Valuing Water
The site is a music festival anywhere in the world and the experience is to encourage people to value water.

Water is a life force, but we abuse it, waste it, and pollute it. Parts of the world have less and less water, whilst others are suffering disastrous floods, much is undrinkable and deadly.

Sinking Venice

The Blue Lagoon – Iceland has 58 words for snow…Iceland is water..


Interactive Experience
Our students each found an aspect of water that was meaningful to them and designed an interactive experience to encourage festival goers to become aware of and engage in the issue.

They uncovered amazing new technologies in their research, how politics and environment have created problems, social issues that mean education is side-lined by the daily need to walk 8km a day to collect clean water.


A journey to fill the tank with water to ‘feel’ how tough it can be to gather water in many parts of the world

A drinking straw that filters impurities and bacteria so that you can drink directly from the water source


The Design Challenge
Designing an experience to communicate and make festival goers aware of these issues is a challenging conundrum.

It’s essentially story-telling and how to create and evoke emotional and physical responses through interaction and at the same time making it appropriate to the particular festival audience.

An immersive virtual reality experience – what is it like when there is no water?


What do they learn?
Our students always find this an extremely challenging project but at the end they make an incredible transition where they think about design in broader terms.

It opens their eyes to how design affects lives.They build stamina in multi-layered creative thinking and processes which gives them the confidence to tackle complex design briefs and spaces.

Matteo Bianchi and Iris Dunbar at the project presentations


Am I creative enough?
One of the issues that students have when joining our Professional Diploma course is “am I creative enough?” This project helps to open their minds to the creative journey and at the end of it everyone has tapped into creative resources they never knew they had.


What does the profession say?
Our external critic for the project, Matteo Bianchi, was so encouraging to the students, saying:

“This project is the one that will get you a job – it shows that you are more than manipulators of space, you are truly original thinkers.”


If you’d like to tap into your creative resources, come along to our next open evening on Monday 25th March 2019 and chat with Iris Dunbar, our Director, and other members of the team.


“An exceptional year with students who are not only talented, but with good personal skills that are so often lacking.  All of them would be highly employable and it was heartening to see how they had considered social responsibility and need in their designs.”                                                          

Diana Yakeley  –  Past President of the BIID