By Haylee Cohen
We are excited to announce that LCI Melbourne graduate, Katherine Darwent, has been shortlisted for the Graduate of the Year Award (GOTYA) 2023 in the Interior Design category.
The Design Institute of Australia (DIA) has recognised Katherine’s and we congratulate her for all her hard work and dedication. The Graduate of the Year Award focuses on supporting and celebrating the most exceptional designers from around Australia in the early stages of their career. The program provides tertiary institutions and design graduates with vital, real-life feedback from experienced designers and industry figures.
“It's no surprise that Kate has been recognised as a finalist in the 2023 GOTYA awards. Kate is a talented conceptual thinker and has developed great skills in merging analogue and digital techniques resulting in a striking signature presentation style. I am excited to follow Kate’s continued success as an emerging interior designer.”
Petrina Turner, Kate's Interior Design Mentor
Having both Kate and Petrina, her mentor, be recognised by the Design Institute of Australia speaks volumes about their extraordinary talents and is a clear demonstration of how our program cultivates and nurtures individuals to excel in their field.
Read more about Petrina's shortlisting here.
We spoke with Kate to learn a bit more about her experience being shortlisted, her inspirations and what's next for her.
How has your experience studying at LCI contributed to your success as a GOTYA award finalist?
After my 15-year nursing career, transitioning into the creative realm was a major leap. The support and belief I had from the LCI Melbourne mentors meant a lot, especially as they nominated me for the Graduate of the Year Award (GOTYA). My mentors have influenced my journey in various ways. Their teachings range from critical thinking about design and the world around us, embracing bold use of color, attening to meticulous details—even down to presentation alignments—to being open-minded and proactive in accepting feedback.
The shortlisting caught me completely off guard and I didn’t anticipate it would go beyond that nomination. The experience so far has been incredible and being able to connect with fellow graduates across Australia and members of the DIA has been a highlight.
What are the inspirations for your work?
My sources of inspiration are diverse. My role as a mother and former nurse ingrained in me the impact of small actions on positive experiences. In my nursing career, I witnessed firsthand how the smallest gestures of care could uplift patients’ spirits and contribute to their healing journey. This guiding principle of nurturing positive experiences is at the forefront of my design process, as I aim to create spaces that not only look beautiful but also elevate the well-being of those who inhabit them.
The festival world is another wellspring of inspiration for me. The way volunteers come together to craft alternate realities with limited budgets and recycled materials is awe-inspiring. Their drive to create positive experiences for strangers purely out of the joy of creativity resonates with me. I believe these elements of collaboration, diverging from always using high-end materials, and focusing on emotional and end-user experiences can reshape mainstream Interior Design.
What has the experience been like to be shortlisted and what’s next for you?
I plan to use this opportunity as a stepping-stone in my career. Since graduating, I have been on maternity leave and now I’m just beginning to explore the many different job opportunities out there. The confidence I’ve gained from this recognition is empowering me to reach out directly to studios and designers.
I’m excited to bring my final piece ‘Mother’ to life and build the installation in some capacity, I’ve also started looking into funding options and discussing ideas with creatives in my community.
As we eagerly anticipate the winners' announcement, we are confident that her work will continue to inspire others and the LCI community wish her the best of luck.
Interior Design mentor, Petrina Turner’s outstanding work with Campground Kitchen, has been shortlisted for the DIA Designers Australia Awards. This achievement not only highlights her exceptional skills but also underlines the invaluable contribution she makes to our Interior Design Program.
In the spirit of reconciliation LCI Melbourne acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community.
LCI Melbourne pay respects to the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people and acknowledges them as the Traditional Owners of the land on which our campus is situated. We recognise this as a place of special significance for the Indigenous community.
We pay our respect to Elders past and present and future. Indigenous sovereignty has never been ceded.