Why Matt made a life-changing move for design

Matthew Oates moved from Lismore in northern NSW to Melbourne for the Bachelor of Design at the start of 2018. He’s pursuing a double major in Landscape Architecture and Property, and sat down with us recently to share his experience.

What attracted you to study the Bachelor of Design?

The Bachelor of Design course is world class in its methods and constantly has an eye on the changes in the digital and physical world, to better suit the complementary industry changes.

But the main reason I chose the design path was down to my willingness to explore the creative process. This urge has been a huge part of me since my childhood and throughout high school; to create, design, solve and justify; and therefore, was something I was willing to pursue.

What subjects did you complete in high school?

As with many students going through their final years of high school I was unsure as to what I wanted to study in the future. Instead I took subjects I was interested in such as high-level Mathematics, Business Studies, and Physical Education. Doing so allowed me to focus on understanding what I liked and what I was good at, and therefore shaped my view that the Design course was the right option for me.

A base-line knowledge of mathematics and an understanding and passion for the creative dialect is what assisted me greatly in the transition to studying at The University of Melbourne.

What challenges have you faced since coming to University? How have you been able to deal with them?

The biggest challenge I had coming into my first year was moving interstate. The decision to move was a tough one. I am the second eldest in a family of five children and had never entirely been separated for more than a week from all of them at a time.

Moving away from family and the friends I had made over the last 13 years of schooling was the toughest decision I’ve made. However, I do believe there is merit to the idea that the first step is always the hardest, but each next step is encouraged by the momentum of the first!

I was able to deal with this overwhelming decision by putting myself out there within the community. It was as simple as striking up a conversation with the person next to me, or volunteering for roles within the Design course. I have found likeminded people who are searching for great things in the future and have created a network who encourage success. In this way I was able to very quickly become a part of the Design community, and the broader University of Melbourne family.

What is your favourite Bachelor of Design subject so far and why?

Foundations of Design: Representation (FODR). As a first-year student, undertaking a subject full of 600+ students can be a daunting prospect but this subject provided a great platform and introduction into the design course.

FODR provided me with the knowledge and understanding of basic CAD programs such as Rhino, Illustrator, Indesign and Photoshop. Workshops were provided in which skills were taught, but also provided a forum for open discussion on ongoing challenges and queries.

The broad applications of the skills I learnt in FODR have helped me throughout the Bachelor of Design since.

Speaking of skills, what are the most valuable skills you have learnt so far?

Understanding the “why” behind the design process is by far the most valuable skill I have learnt so far. The reasoning that suggests, demands, questions and controls the physical world is a fascinating topic that has contributed to aligning me with a more focused study path.

Reasoning is everywhere within the design course. From Digital Technologies to Architecture to Urban Planning, understanding and developing the “why”, is a major skillset that I have already began to explore as a first-year student. However, seeking out the reason behind the design process of past designers, has consequently allowed me to further explore other avenues of my own path of reason. Safe to say, I am excited to keep exploring.

What would be your dream project in your future career?

By undertaking a Property/Landscape Architecture double major I hope to one day be a part of a team that rallies to create new and innovative ways to create communal spaces within expanding cities nationally and globally. To be a part of a team that seeks out the challenges that overpopulated cities face and to inherently change the lives of thousands is a dream project of mine.

What was the highlight of your first year at university?

Engaging in clubs such as DESS (Design and Environments Student Society) was where I was able to network with people studying design. The DESS camp was an experience I will never forget and helped me forge some strong bonds with the amazing people that went along.

The camp also provided a break from the course, and I got the opportunity to engage with students who were feeling the same pressures as myself.

What advice do you have for other students thinking of studying the Bachelor of Design?
I strongly believe that having the right attitude is a crucial first step when undertaking the degree. Each student at times may seem to be at a different level to you but having patience and trusting the process is a rewarding experience when you look back on where you’ve come from, and the path you have carved for yourself.

Ultimately, stay focused on the task at hand and don’t hesitate to seek to find the answers to your problems. Hesitation draws fear. Take the leap!


Thinking about studying landscape architecture and design?

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