RMIT Master of Communication Design students have designed a world-first exhibition of work by revered international designer Pieter Huveneers.
Forty students had a resume-defining opportunity to design and help curate an exhibition of international significance, surveying the career of Dutch-born artist and designer Pieter Huveneers.
The project took a collaborative and iterative approach across two years of RMIT’s Master of Communication Design program.
Guided by RMIT staff, Dr Fayen d’Evie, Chris Mether and Dr Noel Waite, students in the 2021 Masters cohort developed a compelling design concept and visual identity for the exhibition, which the 2022 students then refined and brought to life for the exhibition installation and accompanying catalogue.
Masters graduate and recipient of the 2022 Design Dean’s Award, Randa Abdelkarim, was instrumental in the project, designing the spatial layout of the main gallery and working with her lecturers to curate and position the artworks.
Studying entirely online, Abdelkarim lent on her knowledge of 3D modelling, drafting and interior architecture to visualise the spaces and inform the design.
“In designing the exhibition, we were conceptually thinking how to translate Huveneers’ influence into design elements visitors can physically interact with,” she said.
“Not being able to visit the space we were designing was challenging and pushed me to think about how best to go about setting up the space practically and efficiently.”
The multi-faceted project saw the students collaborate with the RMIT Design Archives to research and source material, and partner with the UNESCO World Heritage Woolmers Estate in Tasmania where the exhibition is on display.
Dr Noel Waite, Senior Lecturer, Communication Design and curator of the exhibition, said the project demonstrates the value of integrated scholarship, practice-based research and collaboration.
“Designing an exhibition is a collective enterprise, filled with individual surprise,” he said.
“This is the first time we’ve done a project like this across two years and with an interstate partner. It was a remarkable collaborative effort and the result is testament to everyone’s focus, endurance and talent.”
In addition to being a practical application of students’ design skills, the project was an opportunity to study Huveneers’ design legacy and impact. His significant body of work includes the corporate identities still in use today for more than 70 major companies, including Australia Post, Australian National Rail, Myer, Telecom (now Telstra) and Westpac.
Waite said, “Huveneers was an exemplary reflective practitioner, moving fluidly from graphic to industrial design, to design strategy and business consultancy. His practice is representative of the development of design into the 21st century.”
Abdelkarim said she found the subject matter inspirational and valued the opportunity to extend her design skills and practice through the project.
“One thing I personally take away from [Huveneers’] work is the curiosity, playfulness and personality he brought into his work and, as a practicing artist myself, I am reminded to carry the same approach to my work,” she said.
“Studying at RMIT was such an enriching experience and I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn of the multiple ways visual design can applied in our world.”
Pieter Huveneers: Beyond Borders is on display until Sunday 5 March at Woolmers Estate in Longford, Tasmania.