Recently 20 Mercer students and alumni were given exclusive access to the inner workings of the design industry as part of our Mercer Destinations study tour. Over three days, the lucky participants learned from the best in the biz and enjoyed behind the scenes tours, workshops, events and V.I.P. access to exclusive trade only showrooms.
Our 2018 tour was held in Melbourne, Australia’s design capital and home to an extensive network of suppliers, wholesalers, architects and interior designers. Business Development Manager and Event organiser, Jillian Hood says the event exceeded expectations, “Our students absolutely loved the opportunity to hear from a broad range of speakers while making new industry connections. They left feeling inspired by the experience and the friendships they made.”
We kicked off Mercer Destinations with a morning tea on campus where our online students relished the opportunity to see our impressive facilities and meet their fellow students and teachers face-to-face.
Our first speaker was interior designer and business coach, Andrew Mitchell who shared tips on launching your career and building relationships. He stressed the importance of having clear professional values and life goals as well as a supportive network saying, “What’s more important than knowing everything? Knowing the right people to ask for advice.”
Mercer will be co-hosting an event with The Design Coach: Kimberley Seldon from Business of Design will be coming to Australia early next year. Click here to find out more.
Students learning how to successfully launch and promote their business.
Next up, stylist and author Emma Blomfield shared how students could build their brand through consistent and meaningful use of social media. She showed students how to create the perfect Instagram vignette and stressed the importance of offering value to potential clients through great imagery and engaging stories. Jillian loved the opportunity to play Oprah, presenting each student with a signed copy of Emma’s book, Home.
Emma Blomfield talking about creative and meaningful social media marketing.
After two fantastic workshops talks, we enjoyed lunch at Streat – a café that supports people experiencing homelessness or disadvantage - a favourite of Mercer!
Re-energised from a delicious lunch, our students settled in for a session with colour trend forecaster, Kim Chadwick. Kim gave us a fascinating insight into how trends develop and fizzle over time. In small groups, students compiled their own colour trend forecast with each group presenting a similar palette and theme – green and metallic textures with a focus on using technology to create more sustainable materials.
We finished day one with some well-deserved drinks and pizza at Rupert on Rupert.
Discussing trends with colour trend forecaster, Kim Chadwick
After a great day on campus, we hit the road to rub shoulders with more industry leaders.
At Sisällä Interiors, students picked Lauren Li’s brain on how to specify furniture, choose artwork and present to clients. Lauren took students through some client projects - from the first conceptual idea to the final installation. She stressed the importance of clear communication in building client relationships and encouraged students to attend industry events and sign up to design blogs and newsletters.
Lauren Li talking about how to professionally present to clients.
Our next destination was Tigger Hall Design where students enjoyed a delicious lunch while Tigger talked about how to identify quality fabrics and put together textures, patterns and colours. Tigger’s showroom is an interior designer’s dream and it was wonderful to view her illustrations that became designs for her new range Nine Muses Textiles.
Feeling inspired by Australia’s queen of fabrics, we strolled down High Street in Prahran visiting antique stores and fabric wholesalers before heading to Jennifer Button Agencies, an exclusive supplier to the trade.
Students were given an extremely rare opportunity to tour Jennifer’s warehouse and hear the stories behind the pieces. Jennifer shared her passion for selecting sustainable accessories and supporting artisans. She encouraged students to invest in genuine, quality items rather than knock-offs saying, “Every action has an impact, take the time to assess what domino effects you’ve created in your business and personal life.”
Our last speaker for the day was Design Director, Cameron Comer of Comer and King. Cameron is an exceptional interior designer who also creates custom soft furnishings. Students loved hearing about Cameron’s ingenuity when faced with difficult design issues over his long spanning career. In addition to his residential and commercial work, Cameron makes handmade bears out of designer fabrics for his charitable project Barnaby and Friends with all proceeds donated to TLC for Kids. We were keen to support this wonderful initiative so we bought three bears to give to our students as door prizes.
Day two concluded with more delicious food, drinks and laughs at the Panama Dining Room and Bar.
The final day of Mercer Destinations was spent at Denfair where students discovered exciting new brands and met with Mercer’s specially curated list of exhibitors.
Bob Cadry, founder of Cadry’s Rugs explained the history of rugs, introduced students to his new range and gifted each student with a generous showbag including the much sought after Cadry’s candle.
Nick Greenwood then showcased the extensive range of furniture available at Molmic. He took students through the process for ordering custom pieces and explained the difference in comfort level when specifying. Students particularly loved their latest sofa “Alfie” which was so large it fit 8 of our students!
Next up, Jess from Rakumba showcased their beautiful lighting options including the jaw-dropping new Typography range.
The new Typography range of lighting from Rakumba.
Moving from lighting to art, Michael Fox and Amanda Ribas Tugwell from Fox Galleries introduced us to the work of Victor Rubin, Mark Dustin, Barry Tate, Khi-Lee Thorpe and Merryn Trevethan. Our students took a particular interest in Mark Dustin’s work which questions the value and veracity of images in contemporary media-saturated environments.
After soaking up a wealth of information and appreciating a new world of products, the students enjoyed a farewell lunch at The Boat Builder’s Yard before heading back to Denfair to explore more exhibits in their own time.
At the end of the tour, our students felt fulfilled and inspired with some getting quite emotional about how the experience reinforced their passion for a career in interior design.
Special thanks goes to the dedicated Jillian Hood, our Business Development Manager who organised the event together with Jenni Woods, Program Manager and Adila Harsono, Future Student Advisor and Marketing Co-ordinator.
We have been inundated with wonderful feedback and are excited to announce that we’re already planning next year’s tour. Where will it be? Stay tuned to find out.
Do you live in and breathe interior design? Give us a call at 9999 1151 ext 2 to discuss how you can work in the interior design industry through our nationally accredited courses. Fee assist options available.