Catherine Byrne | The Open College of the Arts
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Catherine Byrne

I initially trained as an architect gaining both a BA(Hons) and PG Dip in Architecture. After completing my training, and a couple of years working as an architectural assistant and retail designer, I chose to build my career in interior design for museums, galleries and exhibitions. I started out as in-house 3D designer at the National Gallery and then the V&A. For the last 15 years I have been a freelance consultant to architects, organisations, museums and galleries across the UK, successfully delivering varied spatial and 3D design projects.

Part way through my professional career I returned to education to complete an MA in Production Design for Film/TV at the National Film and Television School, and was then fortunate to spend several years working in various roles for art departments in the film industry; on feature films, commercials, animation and TV productions. Lots of fun and a steep learning curve in terms of thinking on your feet – very different to my previous experience of project/client-based design, delivery and time lines!

In an academic environment I have taught interior design, architecture and set-design for screen at Ravensbourne College and Wimbledon School of Art. My design practice has been very broad and I am always excited by the ideas that a broad base of students can bring to the development of, and conversations around, interior and spatial designing in its’ many guises. I’m particularly excited about teaching with the OCA – making design education available to a wider group of people; I believe that design education is a valuable basis for many creative careers, and the broader the input – in terms of students’ background and therefore their ideas and experiences – the broader and richer the design outcome can be. Throughout my career – both in education and in practice – an interest in ‘narrative’ and story-telling through spatial design has underpinned the approach to much of my work; and it is a theme that I am keen to explore further through new projects also.

I have been really lucky to have an extremely varied career, and opportunities to design not just for galleries and museums; but also for corporate events, retail environments, and film and television productions. I’ve been able to explore the multi-disciplinary possibilities of ‘designing spaces’ in many different spheres and it is this approach that I aim to continue both through teaching and my own practice.

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