This story first appeared in Design Online in March.
SOMETIMES IT TAKES A FALSE START or two before a young student discovers the right fit for their future career.
They may have a natural flair for the performing arts, a natural affinity for science related fields, or a preference for business, culture or engineering. A hint of their future career may be found in their interests outside school. But for some students, it’s a matter of discovering a course of study that sparks a curiosity in something not previously considered.
Yulia Holil has always been creative but is the first one in her family to pursue a career in design. “All throughout high school I was doing art but my family never expected me to pursue something like 3D design,” she says. “It’s always good to see their reaction when I bring home something new.”
Holil discovered three dimensional product and furniture design by accident and is about to complete her degree at Curtain University in Perth, Western Australia. She initially enrolled in Architecture after finishing school. “But I didn’t love it,” she says. Then fashion design caught her eye before she settled on an Advanced Diploma in Three Dimensional Design from Central Institute of Technology in Perth which she completed in 2013. This course set her up for further study at Curtain. “I was intrigued. I didn’t even know it existed,” she says of the profession.
With no prior experience in using tools and machinery, Holil has amassed skills across hands-on manufacturing for a range of materials, freehand sketching to quickly develop ideas and concepts, technical skills in computer aided design and understanding of time management for small batch production. She finds that being able to confidently use equipment to make components herself is very liberating and she can now go into the workshop with a block of timber and “turn it into something totally different that is functional and finished. I didn’t have that skill at all when I first came to TAFE because we didn’t have a workshop and materials at high school,” Holil says. “It was a big learning curve.”
“At TAFE we had a lot more focus on the production side of it in the workshop and getting the prototypes ready and at uni, we have to focus on the other side of it like time management and getting everything done according to schedules,” she explains. The prototypes may not necessarily be finished, finessed and ready for production but the essence of innovative designs for today’s architectural and interior projects across residential, commercial and hospitality projects is there.
“Designs always start off with lots and lots of hand sketching and then I’ll move on to computer modelling from there and see how it all fits in and whether it’s going to work. And from there on I’ll send out my designs to different manufacturers to see how much it will cost and then I’ll start making stuff in the workshop.”
Last year she was awarded the Green Award at VIVID (Vibrant Visions in Design), which is a key highlight of Decor + Design each year. The annual design competition provides emerging designers with an opportunity to get their work in front of interstate and international visitors.
The Sandwiched Shelf was Holil’s final TAFE project and impressed the judges for its adaptability to fit within different interiors, ease of assembly and disassembly and the environmental considerations inherent in the design. The timber components were made by Holil at the TAFE workshop while the manufacturing of metal components was outsourced.
“I wanted a freestanding shelf that could be very versatile for families and individuals who might be moving around quite a bit and upgrading from a small house to a bigger house, and encourage adaptability so the colours and the materials are modular to suit different sizes of rooms,” Holil says of the unit which was designed as a response to her own brief. The buyer can choose their own shelf colour from a range of standard powdercoat colours. “I wanted something that is really functional and also fun to look at.”
Holil says that submitting projects in the VIVID design competition is almost a part of “TAFE ritual” and by second year, students are encouraged by lecturers “to get your stuff out there. It’s a good way for us to show our work out of Perth.”
Lucky 13 is a coffee table which Holil exhibited as a second year student finalist at VIVID 2012. The experimental project features a tinted glass top and 13 detachable glazed ceramic legs inspired by stalactites. She says she hasn’t yet found her preferred medium but is interested in using new materials.
“Looking at all my past projects there isn’t one material that I work with the most. Whenever I’m studying a project I never have one material in my mind that I have to use.”
The Kayu Case was designed in 2014 as a small batch production project. Holil says it was a fun project that combined her experience with timber and a material she hadn’t worked with before. The leather cover proved to be quite challenging but resulted in a beautifully crafted pencil case. “There was a lot of learning by doing and I actually sold a couple of them as well,” she says. “It’s always still really exciting for me because every time I do sell a piece it feels really thrilling because people are using it in their house or their daily activities.”
The A Stool completed in 2013, is a deceptively simple design cut from one piece of sheet metal and the Tyred Chair is made from rock maple timber and recycled bicycle tyre tubes.
Holil says she was overwhelmed by the response the Sandwiched Shelf received at the VIVID stand last year, with most visitors asking when it would be available to buy. She has since been in discussion with a Perth manufacturer who has shown interest in producing the piece. But for now her focus is on completing her last semester at Curtain in June, and then to find employment with design studios or designers that she admires.
Sometimes curiosity can lead to undreamed of satisfaction and success.