When it comes to interior design and styling, there's nothing more thrilling than bringing a space to life. For Interior Design student Jacinta Ashby, her hunger for industry experience led her to pitch a concept to Peel Street Festival: she would style their two artist green rooms, and hone her skills along the way.
As the Exclusive Education Partner of the festival, Collarts delivered her brief directly with the festival team and it was an instant hit—but her hard work in preparation had just begun. Reaching out to Jacinta after Peel St, we caught up to chat about her experiences from item sourcing to set-up, and what it was like in retrospect to curate a space for creatives.
Hi Jacinta, thanks for chatting with me. As part of Peel Street Festival, you pitched an idea to decorate the green rooms. What was that process like?
As an Interior Design student looking for industry opportunities, I wanted to be proactive and decided to pitch an idea to the Collarts team for Peel Street Festival. It snowballed into the idea that there was potential to design some spaces for the artist; which were comfortable, relaxing, and just a bit of fun! I soon became responsible for designing the green rooms for artists, where it came with a lot of responsibility and time needed to be invested in this project. My initial point of contact with the festival was shooting a brief through to them to communicate my vision.
I was responsible for choosing everything in the room; from what the colour scheme was to plants, to where every piece of furniture would sit. Four weeks before the festival had even started, I was putting together schedules and lists outlining the items I needed to source. I was visiting Lazerpig—the venue that was hosting the green rooms—and going between op shops, plant shop The Jungle Collective and such to source items.
"But that's the best things about being an Interior Designer! You are responsible for people's emotions..."
Wow, what was it like to start setting up and creating your vision?
With the great help from some amazing Collarts staff, my responsibility continued through to bump in and into bump out, where it took us a few hours and car trips to get everything to the space the day before. The day of the festival was insane—and that's where I felt a lot of the pressure and responsibility—as I was required to deliver the rooms before a certain time in the morning and they had to be perfectly set up in the way I wanted them.
During Peel St Fest, I was popping in upstairs throughout the day to proof and fix things up. I still feel like I had a responsibility even when I wasn't there—that I was responsible for people's happiness and comfort throughout the day—but that's the best things about being an Interior Designer! You are responsible for people's emotions and it's a feeling you probably get use to with experience.
Aw, I love that! With such a clear vision in your mind, how did you actually plan and prepare for decorating the green room?
The brief was a great way to ball park my ideas as I was able to identify needs and wants for the space. Along with Jade (Collarts' Student Experience & Industry Partnerships Manager), we further outlined what the spaces would really need to come to life for the artists, especially on a minimal budget. After putting together and refining numerous schedules for the rooms, I was able to narrow my idea down to one which would still deliver for the artists, identifying what we, Collarts, already had and where we then needed to spend some money.
I guess from there, my preparations were out of the way and I was able to move forward with a clear idea in my head of what the rooms would look like. Collarts was a huge support through this— shoutout to Jade—who was up to her head in work but still managed to guide me through this experience. Mon (Collarts' Content & Social Media Manager) and Jen (Collarts' Content & Social Media Assistant) was such a great support too with their constant positivity with everything and also to Bruno (Collarts' Head of Interior Design), who was happy to lend his time and industry experience!
"I learned to have a lot more faith in myself. I was being trusted to design spaces which were for people, and that's one thing I already had in common with the end user: I'm a person too."
I'm so glad you had such a rewarding time! It's clear it's made you happy, but I'm curious: how do you think a green room should make an artist feel?
Being a singer for a lot of my life and being around these types of spaces, I understood that there needed to be a level of comfort and relaxation in the room but also the feeling of fun. A lot of the Peel St artists were groups and despite the small spaces, I wanted to create a room which felt spacious and which could be used freely by the occupants because at the end of the day, it was their space and I didn't want to increase their nerves.
Totally. With these factors in mind, what was it like curating plants and furniture in the limitations you had?
Initially seeing the spaces, I was like woah. In the photos the spaces looks quite big, but they were only about 3x3m and also had the restriction that they were office spaces, so I couldn't fully change them altogether. However, the restrictions allowed me to embrace my creative side. Everything had a spot in the room whether I saw that initially or not, and I think the that size of the space complimented the end feeling of the rooms. Despite these challenges, the huge benefit in both rooms were the huge amount of natural light which opened up the rooms and enhanced the vibe of the spaces.
"The best thing about studying at Collarts is that there is never a limit. I always feel that I can take something an extra step further and truly test people's creative thinking, especially my own. PAIRED with the industry experience and awesome lecturers, I just feel like Collarts is right for me."
Overall, what did you learn from the experience and what was the highlight? And how did it feel seeing your space completed?
As silly as this sounds, the greatest thing that I learned was that you can never be too organised. Despite having four weeks to put it all together, organisation was what carried and got me through this experience! Also, I learned to have a lot more faith in myself. I was being trusted to design spaces which were for people, and that's one thing I already had in common with the end user: I'm a person too.
The highlight was definitely putting it all together! I love seeing things come to life and to finally be able to take a step back and look at what I had done, was a feeling I really embraced. To see the space, which was actually my first "official" space that I have done, was such a proud moment of mine. I just hope that so many more people put their hand up and best foot forward, as it really pays off and no matter what it will be an opportunity!
It really does pay off. Do you feel studying Interior Design at Collarts has given you access to opportunities in the industry? Between you and I, what's been the best thing about studying here?
I definitely think that Collarts has granted me a lot of access to industry experience. The support that you get initially, during and after an experience, is something which I really appreciate and value about Collarts as a collective. I'm really glad that I didn't do this in Tri 1 or 2 though—yes, it would've been thrilling and exciting—but the knowledge and experience gained throughout my time at Collarts, definitely benefited this experience for me.
The best thing about studying at Collarts is that there is never a limit. I always feel that I can take something an extra step further and truly test people's creative thinking, especially my own. Paired with the industry experience and awesome lecturers, I just feel like Collarts is right for me.