Flinders student designs new space for QAGOMA

Ashley Allen Flinders Design student

Most designers will only ever dream of designing a new art space at the esteemed Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), but for Year 12 student Ashley Allen it’s a reality.

The Matthew Flinders Anglican College student was chosen along with 15 other Design students from across Queensland to work with professional creatives and designers as part of the Creative Generation: Design learning program.

Through eight online workshops, the 2021 Creative Generation student team were challenged and mentored to co-design an interactive space for visitors of all ages and abilities to connect with art and design.

Ashley's entry submission to the competition impressed the GOMA judges, who described her design ideas as "sophisticated and innovative".

To reflect on her experience, Ashley was invited to speak at the QAGOMA Creative Generation: Design Professional Learning Panel. 

The panel included two other students, 20 Design teachers and the Senior Lecturer in Interior Architecture in the Faculty of Engineering, School of Architecture and Built Environment from QUT.

Ashley spoke about her experiences of the program, how the program related to her Design Senior studies and what her future pathways look like.

At Flinders, Ashley is eagerly studying Design in her graduating year, with dreams to be an architectural interior designer and start her own company. She says her Design classes bring her great joy.

"I will never forget the Design class environment - it is one of my favourites! Our projects are very specific, yet flexible. Each project looks completely different in terms of aesthetics or designs but consists of the same principles," Ashley says.

"I cannot praise my teacher, Ms Kate Pearce's teaching methods enough; she always works on behalf of her students, and creates a relaxed and positive atmosphere. She offers simple and effective class materials and has, by far, the best suggestions," she says.

This year at Flinders, more than 100 students across Years 9-12 have elected to study Design, while all Years 7 and 8 students study the IDEAS program, encompassing Innovation, Design, Engineering, Arts and Science.

Design prepares students for an array of study and career options, such as architecture, digital media design, fashion design, graphic design, industrial design, interior design and landscape architecture.

We asked Ashley to share her experience as part of Creative Generation.

What did you enjoy about the Creative Generation opportunity?
To meet and work with like-minded Design students across the State and to work and gain tips from industry professionals.

What was most challenging?
Despite GOMA’s flexibility with deadlines and workloads, the most challenging part was balancing their deadlines with my school workload.

What did you learn about yourself and also about a career in design?
I was surprised to learn that I could easily communicate my ideas effectively, despite corresponding through an online platform, and that my suggestions could be developed further through peer contributions. Similarly, despite my preconceived ideals of a career in design, I discovered that there are many more layers to a concept or a space. The amount of thought and consideration placed into every aspect is incredible and so inspiring.

How were you chosen?
Firstly, there was an extremely challenging and somewhat left-of-centre design brief and criteria to respond to as part of the competition process. I then had to submit an expression of interest process amongst the Year 12 Design class at Flinders where only two entries could be selected, one of which was mine. These two submissions were then presented to the judges at QAGOMA, and mine was selected as one of the 16 submissions from across the State. I was thrilled when I found out I was chosen, I couldn’t believe it!

Note: Submissions had to respond to the Design Brief which featured artwork, Stuart Ringholt’s Double pencil 2008. Ashley applied the design process and designed a self-sanitising drawing device that will assist the Queensland Art Gallery in providing visitors with a COVID-safe way of responding to drawing activities.

How were you supported at Flinders to embrace this opportunity?
My Design and Technologies Teacher, Ms Kate Pearce was extremely supportive and helpful in encouraging and assisting me in applying. She always checked to ensure that I was not overwhelmed by any work they required and made sure I had everything I needed. Similarly, Mrs Natalle Sutton, Head of Design and Technologies, assisted in helping me to apply and follow the school guidelines when engaging with GOMA.

What is your dream career ahead?
I would love to be an architectural interior designer - ideally within the residential and commercial industries – and have my own business.

What are your plans beyond graduation from Flinders? 
To attend university for a double degree in Interior Architecture and Business, then start my own business, meet people and travel.

Who are you grateful to through this project?
I’d just like to thank QUT and GOMA for the opportunity provided to me and my school, Flinders, for supporting me on my journey. A special thank you goes to Mrs Sutton and Ms Pearce for their constant encouragement.

To learn more about Design and Technologies projects at Flinders, read this '3D Food Printing Technology' story here and this 'Designing New Sports Toys' story here.

The Flinders Curriculum Handbooks for the Middle School and the Senior School provide information about the variety of subjects on offer at the College to engage students' interests and passions.

Ashley Allen Flinders Design Generation

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