Liz Ellston | The Open College of the Arts
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Liz Ellston

Hello, I’m Liz, one of the tutors on the Interior Design Foundations and Degree Courses.

I became fascinated with a career in design whilst doing a Foundation Course in Art & Design after completing my A-levels. This turned out to be my most influential and exciting year of study. I had originally planned to study Maths and Business, but instead began a degree in Interior Design at Birmingham, changing to Architecture in my second year. I then completed an MArch, MA and Professional qualification at Westminster University. This is an example of how inspirational courses and tutors can help to inform your decisions, support your talents, and even influence a change, whatever place you are in with life and career.

I’m an architect and have worked in a variety of design companies on projects from large to small-scale architectural refurbishment, interior design, art installations and events. This has led me to a specific interest in historic buildings and sustainability.

I’ve built on my learning whilst working in architecture and interior design companies, as well as master-planning firms, multidisciplinary engineering, and more, developing skills along the way to inform what I do in each place.

A recent example, is working on an EU research project for sustainable heating & cooling. This has provided me with the opportunity to learn more about this field of design and share that learning.

After working in practice for over 20 years, the desire to return to academia – to teach and discuss new ideas – breathed life back into me. I became a studio tutor in the architecture degree at the University of Bath. As well as tutoring at Bath, I am also a visiting tutor at a number of Universities including Brighton and Regents Interior Design courses, and reviewer at Westminster in degree and MArch. I also assess evidence-based portfolios as part of a team of Architects Registration Board (arb) examiners, and interview candidates for accreditation at Part 1 (Degree) and Part 2 (MArch) levels.

I like to stress the importance of collaboration with students and practising designers, across all types of design disciplines. This includes ‘making’ at all stages – from concept through to final design, along with a holistic and social understanding of design, sustainability and future impact on our planet, society and wellbeing.

My particular interests include looking at context, micro to macro, the importance of sketchbooks and research, drawing, how space feels, and how we inhabit it, as well as how it affects us; and I do relish the opportunity to discuss ideas and find out more about what makes us ‘tick’.

On a personal note, I also teach scuba diving, and love the feeling of ‘flying’ underwater in another realm and space, looking at wrecks and creatures, within a different environment and experiencing how that feels. I believe that all of these interests feed into and enrich the others.

I would like to emphasise to students that it’s important to keep talking about design and asking questions. Never feel afraid to ask that ‘daft’ question, and remember there can be more than one answer!

Also to not feel ‘boxed-in’ with your decisions, but that they can lead to opportunities, if you are open to them.

Keep learning, adapting, developing…

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