Olivia Mathisen

Next Generation Global Design

Olivia Mathisen @ Woods Bagot

“The design industry is fast-paced so you need to be able to think on your feet, and have ability to cope with change – as there is going to be a lot of it!”

Olivia Mathisen is an interior designer experienced in the design and delivery of a wide range of projects and sectors. Olivia’s keen eye for detail and her passion for innovative design makes her an integral team member of the Woods Bagot Brisbane studio. Project experience includes The Cairns Institute – James Cook University, 1 William Street, Howard Smith Wharves, and most recently Sheraton Noosa Resort & Spa refurbishment. Olivia is also Co-President of the Design Institute of Australia’s Queensland branch.

1 Tell us about your career path and how it has evolved over time?

I decided to pursue an interior design degree after taking a gap year after high school. I was tossing up between social work and interiors, and in the end creativity won me over. Upon completion of my studies, I was lucky enough to gain employment at global design firm, Woods Bagot and have been fortunate to work here ever since. Because it is an international firm, I get to work with colleagues around the world on everything from healthcare and education projects, to hotels and multi-residential developments. In 2014, I was elected Co-President of the Design Institute of Australia (DIA) Queensland branch, which has helped to further expand my design networks.

2 What does a typical day in the life of an interior designer involve?

A typical day for me starts with catching up with the team and finding out where everyone is at for the day. We’re a tight knit team, sharing ideas and collaborating on all projects in the studio, so we try to be one step ahead where possible. Client meetings here and there, progressing documentation for future projects, and checking in on current projects on site largely makes up the rest of my day.

3 How do you stay up to date with software? What software do interior designers use on a regular basis?

The majority of our projects are now delivered in Revit, with presentations generated in a combination of InDesign and Photoshop. Software has come a long way since the days of 2D line work in AutoCAD, and now has the ability to let clients virtually walk through their new space. Technology is advancing so quickly that it’s important to stay up to date with latest releases and attend training every chance you can.

4 What are employers looking for when hiring an interior designer?

Employers are looking for a well-rounded individual, who can easily move from one task to the next. The design industry is fast-paced so you need to be able to think on your feet, and have ability to cope with change – as there is going to be a lot of it! Sound technical knowledge and being confident in CAD/BIM software certainly helps also.

5 How important is it to become a member of DIA? What are the benefits?

The DIA provides a network of designers across numerous design disciplines including fashion, industrial, graphic and interior. Each branch offers opportunities for students to connect directly with design professionals and transform student learning into professional practice. These personal connections prove vital when trying to score that first job in the industry! Events throughout the year for students include mentoring activities, industry/ studio visits, and portfolio review sessions.

6 What advice would you offer students looking to get into the interior design industry?

Do anything to give yourself the best chance. Whether that means taking on an extra course in graphics, project management or marketing, or making connections with your local industry branch – it all helps to separate you from the other job applicants.

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