If you haven’t heard the news already, we’re currently in the middle of constructing our brand new campus. Located at 208 Wellington Street in Collingwood, an old warehouse has been overhauled in effortless Collarts style, turning the space into a hot spot of creativity and action. Talking to the Head of Design at Merit Interiors, Gemma Daskalou is the Head Designer responsible for Collarts’ new campus space. Passionate about animating fantastic design that’s crafted towards purpose, we caught up with Gemma about her appreciation for Collarts’ culture, chatting everything from fittings and features she’s curated for both students and staff.
As the Head of Design at Merit Interiors, you work on a lot of projects from the ground up. What’s been the most exciting thing for you about piecing together Collarts’ new campus?
Collarts has a real sense of energy and empowerment. Drawing from the passionate students and staff gives the project a sense of grounding and belonging, allowing for bold statements. The design is driven around education and designed for the future. The campus needed to be designed in the light of the students who will be occupying it. Design is a process and the more we got to know the team and understand the students, the more the design started to develop itself. It was then our job to discover and unfold the building of creative spaces within it that will be the new home and campus for Collarts. It is the designer’s responsibility to see through the eyes of its occupants; to see and create the feeling they wish to experience and how the building can inspire and influence the individuals in the space.
“Collarts has a real sense of energy and empowerment. Drawing from the passionate students and staff gives the project a sense of grounding and belonging… the campus needed to be designed in the light of the students who will be occupying it.”
The brief plays a critical part in the design. The brief began with the campus requirements and developed and worked with the existing architecture as a grand Atrium Space was introduced to draw in natural light and connect the campus students and teachers. Allowing for study nooks the students can study and interact, the classrooms were tested and teaching styles were investigated and developed. The CEO wanted to ensure it was designed to get the best education spaces and to make sure some classrooms remained small to allow for more intimate and direct contact with the staff; allowing for optimum learning environments.
What has inspired the design of the campus and how would you describe its overall look, feel and/or aesthetic?
The key phrase that has been passed around is “to be grunge but not too grunge.” The project is about balance pushing the design to ensure it has a Collarts stamp. The central core is the hub crossover for the students and teachers to grow and learn. With study areas, lounges, shared kitchen facilities and viewing points into the staff area; this design will ensure the students and staff are equally a part of the campus. The shape of the layout has been infused by the idea of the movement of sound and fabric to help divert one’s interest as they move through the building.
Mirror and displays are utilised throughout forming portals to an element of depth in the areas—the reflections and flow of the building were created to help the occupants through shapes and forms be open to new directions. Colour is utilised to create excitement and enthusiasm, and to be bold with the combination of black and white, which holds a strong grounding. The triangular and diamond shapes and curves are evident which are subtle references to one’s journey too. You will have ups and downs—whether the shape is facing up and down it links to music, but also links to the concept of emotional, mental and, personal development—they are all valued and critical. It will be challenging at times and the building has subtle moments to help create a pleasant and hopefully easier journey, along with moments of joy as they pass through and make their mark at the campus.
“[Collarts] have done a great job at ensuring the new premises is state of the art; to be hi-tech ensuring its students are able to produce the best creative works in a space to commercial and studio standards. The studios have been detailed and considered in immense detail. We can only hope it will be every student’s dream to record and learn in.”
And finally, what can students expect to experience in the space and what should they be excited about?
The students should be extremely excited to be part of the team that’s been part of this project at Collarts. They have done a great job at ensuring the new premises is state of the art; to be hi-tech ensuring its students are able to produce the best creative works in a space to commercial and studio standards. The studios have been detailed and considered in immense detail. We can only hope it will be every student’s dream to record and learn in.
The communal areas are vast with great study pockets and the facility’s kitchen and bathrooms are top of the line. It will be a great environment for all students. For the more introverted moments; quiet study areas are celebrated—the Atrium Space allowing all year levels to mix and learn from each other, and an auditorium allowing for 111 people. I am personally excited to be part of its development and to one day be a guest at one of its performance nights. Merit and the team cannot wait to see the spaces be used in action!
Collarts new campus is located at 208 Wellington St, Collingwood VIC 3066. We’re looking forward to the move and are excited to share its progression with both students and the public through our social channels. Sign-up to our Newsletter here for our latest updates and check out what courses we offer here. Applications are now open for 2018 and 2019!