Hi everyone, my name is Christina Khoo and I graduated in 2011.
The choice to study Interior Architecture at UNSW was a considered decision, my interest in design was developed early in high school and the idea of being able to use design to influence the space around me sparked my curiosity and I needed to know how to do it! The 4 years studying were challenging and rewarding. During my 3rd year I took up the opportunity to travel overseas for an Architecture elective in Barcelona alongside Architecture students from UNSW and from Barcelona . Needless to say I learnt an immeasurable amount all whilst enjoying the long summer days in Spain. My final year at UNSW consisted of many cans of red-bull, midnight snacks and tears of frustration followed by tears of joy. The degree pushed me to think outside my comfort zone, whilst equipping me with technical skills that I still use today.
In my final year I made the decision to focus on retail (designing a flagship retail store for Top3 by design) and completed my thesis on: “New Retail Concepts: A Study of Fashion Flagship stores” – where I explored the idea that architecture and interior experiences make brands memorable and aids in establishing them as sophisticated and experiential; especially in this progressively virtual world. This process of writing and research was long and thought-provoking and as I look back I’m extremely proud at what I had achieved.
With this interest in retail, I was fortunate enough to stumble on a graduate position at Otto Design Interiors; an interior design company that focuses on retail, hospitality and several roll outs. The experience gained at Otto allowed me to be involved in all areas of the design process – from client consults, layout, concept, to documentation and detailing. Through these projects I have gained experience communicating with clients, suppliers, shopfitter, councils and several shopping centers around Australia. Through Otto I have worked on several local roll out stores such as ‘Max Brenner’, ‘Shoes & Sox’, ‘Kidstuff’ and ‘Sheike’ as well as some local and international rolls outs such with ‘Gloria Jean’s Coffees’ and ‘It’s a Grind’.
After 4 years at Otto, I accepted a position at Geyer at the beginning of this year. Well known and established; Geyer excels in workplace, education, hospitality and retail sectors, with studios all over Australia and in Singapore. In the short time I’ve been in the studio, I have assisted with documentation on large scale office fitouts and have taken on my own client which is currently in layout/concept stage. I look forward to seeing where this new role takes me, and have enjoyed using the skills I have in retail design in different scaled projects.
Some advice for graduating students– don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, be confident in your abilities and be humble. Be proactive and ask lots of questions, everyone you work with regardless of their experience will teach you something new. Working in the industry is hard work, but having a great support network sometimes makes all the difference. Take time to try new things and educate yourself about new products, new designs and suppliers. I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of other BIA grads and the skills you learn at UNSW are a great stepping stone for whatever you choose to pursue.
All Gloria Jeans & Sheike: Christina Khoo
Max Brenner: Otto Design interiors (Anna Head)