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Sayo Olowo-Ake
The staff are supportive, and the course teaches you about the different aspects of design. Also, NTU is diverse and as an international student, that is very important to me.

More about Sayo

What is it about NTU that made you want to study here?

“I knew that it had a very good teaching system for technical courses like interior architecture and design, and I saw a picture of Newton and it looked very contemporary, so I felt like I might just fit in here.”

What do you enjoy most about your course at NTU?

“I enjoy doing research, coming up with a concept, and designing it to the model stage. My course allows me to flex my creative muscles because most of my concepts have come from art forms and movements. I enjoy reading about art and architecture periods, especially when it is taught well. Also, it is always satisfying to see what I create come to life in model form.”

Have you been involved in any live projects or briefs that you really enjoyed?

“A live project brief that I really enjoyed was the retail design brief in my second year. We got to go on a course trip to Rotterdam as part of the project. The brief was to design a physical store for a Dutch stationery brand. It was so interesting because the brand I got uses a variety of colours, and they believe in order and neatness. I did some research on the building the store was to go into (Café De Unie in Rotterdam) and the art movement at the time (The De Stijl Movement), and that was my main inspiration for the project.

“The final outcome of my project was a wooden installation that encouraged children and adults to climb some steps, interact with alternative seating, and to just take a break. I enjoyed the process of learning more about a period in history that I would have otherwise known nothing about.”

Has the course included any speakers / lecturers from industry?

“I attended a session in my second year, where a lecturer from industry demonstrated sketching. I really enjoyed that because I was starting to become more confident in my sketching. The session encouraged me to embrace my sketching style, but more importantly taught me basic principles or rules to sketching.”

What do you think about the course staff?

“The staff are very supportive. I had this idea that university was a place they just threw you into and you had to learn to do everything all by yourself. In a way, university does teach you to be independent but when I came to NTU, I did not know anything about my course, and had no solid knowledge of any sort of computer programs. The tutors were really helpful because they treated first year students like everybody was learning for the first time, and that was important to me.

“They are not your average tutors. They care about your wellbeing and ask if you’ve had enough sleep the night before, and encourage you while giving you constructive feedback. The administrative staff are very helpful as well. They do their best to help and answer emails on time.”

How do you find the facilities at NTU?

“I find it really convenient. I do not wake up worrying if I’m going to find a seat in any of IT facilities across the university because I know I will. There are canteens and cafes in all the University buildings, so I never worry about not being able to get food. Most importantly, the studio is open for use until 8pm on weekdays and until 3pm on Saturday, so I can get work done without having to move to other buildings.”

In a nutshell, why would you recommend your course / NTU to someone looking to study BA (Hons) Interior Architecture and Design?

“The staff are supportive, and the course teaches you about the different aspects of design. Also, NTU is diverse and as an international student, that is very important to me. I have met different people from different cultures, both staff and students. I feel comfortable here, and have also developed a global approach to design because that is infused into the teaching.”

Have you completed any work placements?

“I enrolled for a scheme that the NTU Employability team offer called Grads4Nottingham. In the summer, I worked with another NTU student at Butler and Willow, a company that specialises in office design. The brief was to redesign their showroom spaces, and sell enhancements to their Managing Director. I got to develop my communication and presentation skills while there. I also got experience in specifying furniture, and improving my computer software skills. The team were understanding and supportive.

“I also did a research placement proposed by NTU staff, in conjunction with Nottingham Contemporary. I was in a team of six students, and the brief was to analyse how the public interacted with the exhibitions that were up at the time. We started a blog to record our findings, and created a leaflet that made links between the two seemingly different exhibitions.”

What advice would you give to prospective international students who are considering applying for this course?

“Always ask questions, and it is fine if you don’t know how to do everything well, like sketching, using Photoshop, or drawing plans and sections, because you will be taught that. I think it is important to stress that the University is there to help you learn.”

How was your experience at Nottingham Trent International College (NTIC)?

“NTIC was the first experience I had of engaging with people from different nationalities. It definitely taught me how to interact with various people. While I was on the Art and Design foundation course there, I learnt a number of design skills; including product design, sound and mark making, audio and visual studies, and Photoshop. This gave me a bit more confidence in coming to NTU, and I definitely found it easier to express my design ideas.”

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