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Alecia Mostert has always

trusted her gut feeling.

Alecia-Childhood


Even all the way back to her birthplace in South Africa, Alecia followed her instincts as a creative kid in a family of traditional occupations.

“I loved drawing, painting, anything crafty. My family weren’t particularly in the creative industry: a lot of doctors and business professionals —but no designers.


Sit her down with a few crayons and she’d bring what she saw around her to life on paper. She remembers a family holiday, drawings spread on the coffee table, when an aunt came up to her and declared:

 

"You’re going to be the artist of the family."

 

But she ended up excelling at Math in high school, solving problems logically, while harbouring a love for The Sims, like most preteens wanting an escape from schoolwork.

MOTHERLODE. ROSEBUD. MOTHERLODE. Let the simoleons cash in and Alecia would build mansions or renovate the default Electronic Arts lots (a glimpse into her interior design future).

Alecia-Sketch-High-School

But at the time, architecture presented itself as a safe bet for life after school: the perfect cross between logic and creativity.

 

 

Her university in Cape Town was of the old guard.

You know the type: huge brick buildings with ivy leaves on the walls. 

Alecia-Architecture-Australia


After 5 years devoted to her architecture degrees and a year of undergraduate work experience under the belt, she grabbed at an opportunity to move to Australia in 2019 with high hopes of kicking off a career in architecture.

Australia turned out to be more uncharted territory than Alecia thought. With barely any local contacts or work experience, the job hunt was like walking through mud. Six months in, that logical brain of Alecia’s paired with her searing gut feeling told her she needed another change.

“I love architecture and the ideas behind it, but I've always been drawn to the finer details. Like the tactile parts of it, the materiality, how the lighting, spatial configurations work. So I thought interior design would be great.

I never thought of pursuing interior design in South Africa, just because it wasn't as prominent a degree. It wasn't seen as a “professional job”; it’s very different here in Australia. I’d say it’s on par with architecture’s ‘reputation’.”

 

Collarts didn’t have the ivy leaves, but they did have a boutique atmosphere with smaller class sizes, that allowed for individual attention from lecturers and a tailored learning experience. And Alecia’s architectural history came in handy in the Bachelor of Interior Design too.

“I enjoyed having my background knowledge and going into interior design, having that foundation. I feel like I could really delve deeper into the designs, almost fusing my learnings together. I now consider both exterior and interior while I work.”


Working closely within the Collarts Interior Design cohort, big learning moments came one after the other.

“You're not just there to get the degree. I took every day as a learning opportunity.”

 

DENFAIR-Alecia-Bruno-Interview-2020-

The biggest one? The power of networking. With Collarts providing real-life briefs, introductions to real-life architects, interior designers, and builders, and collaboration opportunities within the industry, it helps a budding interior designer to get their footing.

And Denfair was just the beginning of those moments for Alecia.

 

As an exclusive education partner, Collarts brought Denfair to students in 2020.

 

Alecia-Mostert-Press-Photos-Image-2Interior Design students were briefed on designing an exhibition display called Front Centre. Showcasing 10 to 15 objects from the best up and coming designers under the theme ‘Gravity’, students would then present to the Denfair team for selection.

Harking back to her childhood craftiness, Alecia got physical with her conceptualisation.

“I first took out little pieces of cardboard and cut them up to the sizes of the MDF boards. And I just started colouring in, cutting out shapes, and playing with them in a miniature model that was to exhibition scale.”

What the non-interior designer might not know is that so much of interiors is based not solely on space, but on the humans passing through it. This became a key factor in Alecia’s work.

“We spend a lot of time indoors and interacting with interiors, and there's a lot of research on how the spaces we inhabit can really affect you. Interior design can be powerful because we can, through our designs, really affect how people feel and act within the space.”

 

And that gut feeling kicked in again, where a small innovative risk paid off big.

“One thing that stood out in my design was that I introduced a second material, even though we weren't supposed to. It was for sustainability reasons and it created a bit more with what we had for very little cost or cost to the environment.

 

I knew there was a possibility it wouldn't get chosen at all,

or it would be a game-changer.

 

And it did get picked. As COVID-19 moved Denfair online, the event adapted to bring Alecia’s idea to life in a 3D model. As virtual attendees—hundreds of design industry professionals, hobbyists, and curious minds—explored her digital space, they could also head to an online panel interview with Green Magazine, featuring the exhibitors, Head of Interior Design Bruno Duval, and Alecia herself.

The value of industry connections at Collarts also revealed itself towards the tail end of her degree… which has led to Alecia’s current role as an Interior Designer at a nationally renowned architecture and interior design studio that just celebrated 50 years in the making in 2021.



Having met someone from the studio during a previous assignment, Alecia kept the connection alive by reaching out to them for portfolio feedback, then embarked on the search for her industry placement unit.

By the time they reached out, she had already locked down plans elsewhere, but into the last trimester, before she had even graduated, the dream became a reality with an invitation for an interview, then an official offer to start right after the course.

“Every day in the job I use what I learned at Collarts. Collarts is very good at giving you real-life experience, so even though projects were shorter than what a real-life project would be, you get a touch of each stage.”


And outside of the lessons she’s learned in class, there’s one lesson that Alecia has embraced above all:

Listen to your gut feeling. If you're really passionate about something, you're going to love it.”

 
WRITTEN BY JENNIFER PARK
IMAGES PROVIDED BY ALECIA MOSTERT
35MM PHOTOS BY KAYLA MORTON + JENNIFER PARK
Turn your dream into a career. Discover Interior Design.