[FEATURED] GetSmarter offers an accessible interior design short online course. We chat to head tutor, Kyle Bennett, to find out more.

In partnership with GetSmarter

For the past eight years, Kyle Bennett (29) has been the head tutor of GetSmarter’s Interior Design online short course. GetSmarter, a brand of 2U, Inc., a digital education company based in Cape Town, approached Bennett while he was completing his degree at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

In this Q&A, we find out more about the course, what he has learnt and why interior design is essential in order to create a comfortable and attractive space.

ELLE DECO (ED): How did you become the interior design head tutor?

Kyle Bennett: GetSmarter was in the process of diversifying its course offerings and wanted to include some more creative options. I worked alongside a great team of its content developers to structure the subject matter, and was appointed head tutor.

ED: Why is interior design important?

KB: We spend the majority of our lives indoors, whether it be in our homes, offices or in public buildings, so it’s important for these spaces to impact on our lives in a positive way. There’s far more to interior design than meets the eye, and while an aesthetically pleasing room is important, there are also some more practical aspects that need to be considered such as ergonomics, light quality and thermal comfort.

ED: What have you gained personally and professionally from being the interior design head tutor?

KB: I’ve come to find that I learn something new with each presentation of the course, which has helped me on a personal level to broaden my understanding of the opinions of others and to take time to see things from a different point of view. On a more professional level, the course work is a continual reminder of the fundamentals of design, which helps with my design practice.

ED: Why did you choose to become an online tutor and how can people get into it if they are interested?

KB: I enjoy teaching and being involved in the excitement of students learning something new, particularly about a topic that we share a passion for. If people have an interest in teaching, doing so online is a great way to meet a broad audience. They should approach companies in the business of education and see if these organisations would be interested in what they have to offer.

ED: What does the course entail?

KB: The course is designed to take the student through a typical design process, from conceptual development through to client presentation. Each week students are introduced to a fundamental aspect of interior design and are able to practise this theory on a design of their own. On completion of the course, students come away with their own design proposal for a small residential project.

ED: Why would you recommend the course to students?

KB: The GetSmarter platform offers an interactive, people mediated learning experience where students are able to communicate with not only their head tutor, but also a dedicated success manager who ensures students reach their academic goals. The interior design course also includes a variety of creative material as a source of inspiration for their design work.

ED: How do you translate the practical aspect of interior design through an online medium?

KB: The course makes use of an industry-standard 3-D modelling software called SketchUp. Students are given a floor plan and are introduced to an imaginary client who explains their lifestyle and the vision they have for their space. Week by week, the students are taken through various aspects of interior design and implement these into the 3-D model of the client’s space that they’ve built themselves.

ED: Please share a student success story.

KB: One Cape Town-based student who did particularly well during the course took the initiative to work as an apprentice with an established interior design firm, utilising a lot of the SketchUp and presentation skills learnt on the course. After several months of guidance, she went out on her own and has since completed a number of projects ranging from a conceptual design for a property in Langebaan to a renovation project in Constantia.

She’s also purchased, designed and decorated two apartments for short-term rental, and is now moving on to larger investment projects.

It makes me incredibly proud to know that the course has made a small contribution to this student’s success.

ED: In the interior design space, what do you think should be picked up as a trend, but hasn’t yet taken off?

KB: An often under-utilised and forgotten about surface in a room is the ceiling. I think it would be great to see more designs that incorporate creative lighting, colour, pattern and textural elements for an added layer of interest within a space.

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