A group of Swinburne University of Technology design students have responded to a request from Springvale Homemaker Centre, and given life to the underutilized shopping mall.

Students undertaking Interior Design and Visual Merchandising courses at the university were invited in late 2013 to take part in the ‘Activating Spaces Project’ at Springvale.

The brief provisioned that a wide array of retail and products became showcased to shoppers in an inviting, interactive and engaging way. Incorporating social media and the centre’s website was also important.

The brief and outcome were delivered across a two-step process.

The first implored the students to design a photo wall photo wall along the busy restroom corridors of the two level centre. The idea was to celebrate the centre’s key milestones and display a collage of photos and memories.


The second part of the project involved an ‘Open for Inspection House’’ initiative. This house was designed by the Interior Design students and filled with prop products to suggest the type of products that are available through the centre’s retailers. Using smart phones, customers could scan QR codes placed throughout to give them a list of retailers selling that item within the centre.

“The concept behind this activation was to show how Springvale Homemaker Centre was a one-stop shop for everything someone would need to turn their house into a home. Our aim was to depict both an interior and an exterior scene that would showcase the centre’s range of products,” said Natasha Teo, Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration.

Visual Merchandising student, Fiona McFarland played a hand in the photo wall design and said customers were encouraged to bring some of their own photos into the centre and upload images to Facebook of their purchases in action.

“Memories are the essence of life, and until they are created a house is not a home. The family photo wall is key in this transition. Just as your own home is rich with memories, Springvale Homemaker Centre has its own memories and with that, its own family,” McFarland said.

Di Matthews, project coordinator and Visual Merchandising teacher observes that the project gave students real design industry experience.

“By having the students involved from the very beginning of the project, they’ve been able to get a real insight into how the industry would usually work,” said Matthews.

“The students were given a brief, and from there they had to come up with concepts and present them to the management team at the Homemaker centre. The team were impressed with the students’ designs and a lot of them have now been implemented in various areas within the centre.”

Similarly, Interior Design student and team leader Natasha Teo said that working on the project has helped prepare her for future employment.

“The confidence I have gained working alongside other designers and tradesmen is something I will take with me. I was treated with respect and it made me feel more like a designer and less like a student,” Teo said.

Images: 2Vue Photography. Source: Swinburne University.