Design Learning versus Real-world Application

Jason Toh is Program Director of the Interior Design Department at the Raffles College of Higher Education in Malaysia. An architect by profession, he has practiced interior design for more than 20 years. He believes that design is an indicator of one’s values and good design would reflect one’s identity, preferences and feelings.

He was Design Director of his own dining consultancy company, so his projects mainly focused on residential bungalows and commercial restaurants. His design journey also included agency productions, graphic designs and retail visual merchandising.

How does a higher education institute like Raffles College of Higher Education keep abreast of the changing industry landscape?

As an academic team, we truly understand and agree that the interior design (ID) industry is constantly changing and competitive. As such, at Raffles, we continuously and furiously inject out-of-classroom learning experiences into the programme, which include:

  • industry field trips;
  • overseas study tours;
  • collaborations with industry partners and affiliates; and
  • design competitions.

These are made possible by a team of dedicated lecturers who believe in widening and expanding our ID students’ horizon beyond their classroom walls.

How does Raffles College of Higher Education integrate technology and innovation into the curriculum?

Apart from lecturing, Raffles’s ID lecturers are also in touch with the industry. Together with our adjunct industry practitioners, we have integrated as much technology and innovation into the curriculum as possible by bringing in relevant industry players to conduct workshops, training, talks and seminars, so as to keep our ID students abreast of the latest developments. We have also conducted workshop training with artificial intelligence software programmes and Advanced Digitalised Data applications.

How does Raffles College of Higher Education tackle challenges confronting education providers here in Malaysia in sustaining or providing quality education?

The fundamental value at Raffles is that all lecturers must have related and relevant working experiences in order to guide the students effectively and progressively. Our mission is to nurture ID students to be ready and relevant for the industry. Therefore, on top of the out-of-classroom activities mentioned above, we also provide:

  • workshops and students sharing sessions;
  • inter-college and inter-university exchanges; and
  • alumni and industry networking

There’s a saying at Raffles ID Department: “Even after you have graduated, you’ve never really left Raffles.”

And to sustain all of the above, our lecturers are provided with relevant training, encouraged to develop and explore self-improvement programmes. Appropriate study leaves are also granted for lecturers who plan to pursue higher qualifications to upgrade their academic competencies and credentials.

How does Raffles College of Higher Education equip graduates to be ready to join the industry?

In fulfilling our mission of getting our students to be ready and relevant for the industry, our pedagogy is all about what will happen when you graduate and join the working field. We provide mock job interviews; crit presentations by external panels of interior designers and architects; ID Club extracurricular activities to hone leadership skills and/or team spirit; and industry networking for internship programmes. Our comprehensive list of internship partners will not only provide professional industry setting for students to acquire real-life work experiences, but also create job opportunities for both our fresh graduates and alumni.

Most recently, members of our alumni were invited for a design dialogue session where they shared their college days memories and current work journeys. After the session, many of our ID students turned up for a dose of GRADtalk reality.

Raffles College Management is also in liaison with Rtist, a creative discovery platform to assist students to kickstart their career journey.

Raffles Interior Design programme overview

The Interior Design programme at Raffles College Kuala Lumpur encompasses the study of both architectural designs and those contained within a built environment while focusing on the human interface within a given space. Emphasis is placed on space planning, creative problem-solving, communication skills and knowledge of building materials, construction, computer-aided drafting and the history of design.

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