Category Archives: higher education

Interior Designer Karen Lane’s new up-cycling project!

Following on from her ‘Flower Chest’ project, Interior Designer Karen Lane, has rescued an old cabinet from her local second-hand shop and given it the love and attention needed to turn it into a beautiful piece of furniture. Here’s how she did it!

  1. The cabinet was first rubbed down and then undercoated.
  2. After another light sanding two top coats of emulsion were painted before the flower (cut from wallpaper) was applied using PVA.
  3. The whole body was then painted with several coats of clear satin varnish to protect it from wear and tear.
  4. Finally the inside was lined with an attractive but practical, scrubbable wallpaper.

Karen, “I am very happy with the finished result and now have another item to add to my range of hand decorated, recycled furniture.”

If you would like to contact Karen regarding commissions or for an interior design project, please visit her website!

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Not got the A Level grades you wanted? There’s still hope!

Today for many students will be one of the most nerve racking times of their life. I went through the experience myself, driving the six miles to college to pick up my results felt like the earth had stood still for ten years. Butterflies were fighting in my stomach and my mind was racing,  just hoping I’d managed to secure a place at my first choice university.

Clearing was a thought a little to scary to ponder on! The worst part was seeing students from across the country live on television, opening their white envelopes and screeching the letters “ABB!”

The pressure young people are under to excel and perform within our education system is choking, especially with the prospect of our future generation leaving with an average of £50,000 debt strapped around their neck! It’s shocking to learn that over a quarter of a million students will be without a place this academic year and universities on average only offering 80 places through clearing. But there is hope…

The removal of government funding has had a positive effect in exposing alternative routes to higher education to students, which have been available for many years and arguably offer higher levels of support to students compared with traditional universities.

One of which is the National Design Academy in Nottingham, who’ve been providing Diploma to Degree level Interior Design courses through distance learning, for over twenty-two years! They’re also the first and only UK educational provider to offer BA (Hons) in Retail, Heritage and Outdoor Living Design. It’s also the last chance to secure a place with the NDA before all funding disappears.

So if you’ve had your heights set on studying interior design at university and haven’t quite got the grades, this could be the perfect, less costly and equally recognisable way to gaining that qualification you want. All you need is one A-Level in art to be able to enrol on the Degree program which consists of a Foundation Degree course (equivalent to years 1&2 of a university degree) and then the BA Hons level (equivalent to year 3).

There’s no need to panic, you will reach your goal! All the Degree courses provided by NDA are fully accredited by Staffordshire University, internationally recognised and delivered online. Not to mention that they have a team of highly skilled tutors available five days a week from 9-5 to give you advice over the phone or through email.

Studying with the National Design Academy gives students the opportunity work at a pace that suits them and also offers those wanting to gain valuable work experience the opportunity to do so. It’s widely understood that industry experience is highly regarded by employers as very important.

To find our more about how you can still achieve a Degree in Interior Design contact the NDA on 0115 91234 12 to speak to a member of the team or visit their website

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A treasure trove of design gems at New Designers 2011

Well I’ve made it back from the New Designers Show 2011 part 2 which is being held in London’s Business  Design Centre, feeling shattered after two whole days of intense interviews and general press duties – but well worth it! I’ve come away totally inspired and have huge admiration for design students everywhere.

The level of work was exceptional, from furniture to textiles and product designs to Interiors, if I was a robot I’d definitely have a design overload!

Firstly I’d like to say CONGRATULATIONS to all the New Designers 2011 winners, they’ve worked so hard to gain recognition from the UK’s freshest student design event and of course their peers.

Here are some of my favourites and the names of the other winners can be found on the New Designers Website.

Luke Diaz Habitat Innovation Winner - Bucks New University

Judges thoughts: “We admired his innovative construction and use of material. We enjoyed his overall charm, warmth and character. The low storage with woven sliding doors is a product with soul.”

Oksana Akishyna - Interior Design Association Winner AIU London

Judges thoughts: “Oksana’s portfolio showed refreshing clarity and at times mesmerising presentation that was refined and at a professional standard.”

Northumbria University - Best Stand Award

Judges thoughts: “Northumbria have a huge variety of inspirational products on display. The graduates have made clever use of recycled materials-creating a highly polished and professional presentation.”

Brinley Clark - Business Designer of the Year winner University of Hertfordshire

Judges thoughts: “Brinley has got design in his bones. Passionate, inspiring and intelligent, with a wicked  streak of humour. His pigeon project is ‘shit’ – go and find out more!”

The event was split into three floors and then sub divided into specific design sections so it was easy to make your way around. Although, it wasn’t easy walking around each section without stopping to look every few steps and swooning over another fantastic design.

The One Year On section, curated by award winning designer Jethro Macey, showcased 50 specially selected designers who’ve set up a business in the last 12 months. In this wonderful room, I came across Imogen Heath who launched her first ever collection at the show. Her mid-century patterned wallpaper and fabrics instantly dragged me in. Imogen was just as colourful and sweet as her designs which are inspired by her love of geometric composition, art deco and contemporary art.

If you’re just as head over heals in love with Imogen’s designs as I am, you can bag a cushion from £48 – £55 and wallpaper for £100

As I  was interviewing Imogen, just opposite us a group of talented artists and illustrators under the name of Secret Wars, were doing a live graffiti demonstration on their white stand. Their creative flair attracted the attention of lots of visitors who stared in amazement at how effortlessly they drew – I couldn’t take my eyes off them!

After, finally pulling myself away from the One Year On section, I had a good gander on the first floor and came across a product which The Design Hub had already featured as a Design of the Day – the Tweetingseat. Created by Product Designer Chris McNicholl, who’s recently graduated from the University of Dundee in Product Design, the Tweetingseat has caused a huge stir.

The seat takes reality and combines it with the virtual world by taking pictures of anyone sat on the seat and uploading the image to a live Twitter feed. This is done by one camera in the shape of the blue Twitter bird which can be mounted above the seat and another camera inside the seat that takes an image of anyone standing in front. So in the end you get two images uploaded to Twitter – genius!

Chris McNicholl speaking to Kellie Hill

As well as the tweeting seat causing a buzz with social media lovers, some feel this idea of sharing images on Twitter of people unaware they have been papped is unethical. When asked, Chris told me he welcomes the debate and encourages it. Listen to Chris’ interview!

Innovative furniture makers

The level of talent and skill shown by the students at New Designers was breathtaking and one designer rom Plymouth University certainly took the biscuit. Michael Carroll had created a chair without using glue or nails.

Named “Tankard“, this chair is held together with…. well you’ll have to watch his interview to find out!

The young furniture maker also made a table using metal bars which resemble the shape of a mouse trap.

Another talented chap, Luke Diaz from Bucks New University, won the New Designers 2011 Habitat Innovation Award for his Eco cabinet that he bound together with hemp twine. Like Micheal Carroll above,  he didn’t use a single nail or drop of glue. I see a trend developing here!

Diaz taught himself how to weave the twine and create the doors of the cabinet, which I think make it look beautifully organic and earthly. He also designed two stools, a smaller cabinet and hanging stand to complete his sustainable furniture range.


We’ve all had to live in a boxy apartment or a ground floor flat that resembles a dungeon (like myself) when starting out on the career ladder.  Having to cook, sleep and shower in the same room is something which the majority of yuppie’s (young professionals) put up with until the day comes and a promotion lands on the table.

And if you’re like me and LOVE to decorate but also rent, it’s fair to say that the landlord wouldn’t be too happy at the next inspection to find two walls knocked out and the living room changed into a bedroom. Renting makes it near impossible to flex those creative fingers.

Well, I met young innovative Interior Designer, Henry Parker at New Designers 2011 and he has come to the rescue with a city apartment perfect for the hard-working yuppie’s, that want to make their flat into a home.

Adaptaflat is an apartment which is flexible, moveable and totally brilliant! These living spaces are the same size as a two bedroom flat but have maneuverable walls. Yes, you heard right, you can move the walls  in the apartment to suit your needs, lifestyle or make space for Saturday night’s party. Somebody PLEASE commission this!

How does it work? There are a series of custom made tracks on the ceiling of the apartment which the walls are connected to and this allows them to be moved in the desired place and clamped down when positioned. Want one? Then listen to Henry Parker’s interview with The Design Hub and learn more about this clever design or click HERE to go to his website.

Images: New Designers 2011, Imogen Heath, Kellie Hill

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Filed under Chris McNicholl, courses, distance learning, Eco-friendly, higher education, Home Acessories, Interviews, Kitchen Interiors, lighting, Living room Interiors, modern design, new career, New Designers 2011, News, Quirky, sustainable interiors, upholstery

New Designers 2011 Gallery


Filed under Art, BA in Interior Design, Bathroom Interiors, Bedroom Interiors, higher education, homeware, lighting, modern design, new career, New Designers 2011, Quirky, Soft Furnishings, upholstery

Want to get the most out of your Interior Design course? Check out these top tips to springboard you to success.

Former student and Interior Designer Karen Lane has created a list of her most important tips that students should do to ensure they get the best out of their Interior Design course and create a secure foundation to springboard them to a successful career.

Check them out and let us know if you have any more to add to the list. Continue reading

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Filed under BA in Interior Design, courses, diploma, distance learning, help & support, higher education, home study, News, The National Design Academy,

Adult Learners Week open day goes down a treat!

To celebrate Adult Learners Week, the National Design Academy, who specialise in Interior Design distance learning courses, held a special open day on Saturday which went down a real treat with visitors and received a huge amount of positive feedback.

The team were thrilled with how many people came along to find out more about our range of courses and how distance learning works. The atmosphere was buzzing and people were really keen to know more about what they would be studying, how the courses are delivered and what students have achieved since studying. Continue reading


Filed under Adult learner's week, BA in Interior Design, courses, diploma, distance learning, help & support, higher education, home study, new career, News, The National Design Academy,

Update! NDA National Design Award 3D Video simulation of penthouse

The response to the NDA National Design Award 2011 competition has been fantastic and people are really excited to start designing and hopefully grab that £3000 cash prize and see their design come true.

To help you with the dimensions and spatial planning of your design, here is a 3D video simulation which you can play as many times as you like.

Remember to your design to the RENTAL market, but this doesn’t mean you can’t be creative, original and eclectic as you like. Push yourself and the boat out because you never know, your design could take the biscuit!

If you haven’t already entered you can do so for free by visiting

Good luck folks!!!

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Filed under BA in Interior Design, Competitions, diploma, distance learning, higher education, NDA National Design Award 2011, News, The National Design Academy,, youtube

Be quick and apply for 1000 euros a month Interior Scholarship

If you have a hunger and passion for interior design or architecture, you could be rewarded with 1000 euros a month scholarship from AIT-Scholorship of the Sto-Foundation. Their aim is to support talented students and allow them to dedicate 100% to their studies as well as professional and personal development.

All students in the discipline of Interior Architecture or comparable studies such as Interior Design, who are registered with a European University and are at least in their 5th semester can apply.

But you’ve got to be quick, the application deadline is 1st May 2011 and the scholarship will run from May 2011-April 2012!

If you think your talents can cut the butter, visit or email

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The National Design Academy release cutting edge magazine



Check out the spring VISION Profile Edition and get your design fix. This edition explores how designers’ image changes over time and how they market themselves to the public. You’ll find articles about Kelly Hoppen, Jonathan Ive and Australian designer Joanna Ford.

Created bimonthly by tutors at The National Design Academy, an institution who specialise in Interior Design courses, VISION is eclectic and cutting edge.

As well as gripping articles you’ll also find us in here too! So don’t waste anymore time, download the mag and get inspired.  CLICK the VISION tab above.

Photography by Liam Kerrigan

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Filed under Adult learner's week, Art, BA in Interior Design, diploma, distance learning, higher education, home study, modern design, News, photography, Quirky, Style, Success Stories, The National Design Academy,

Want to save money? Start up-cycling

Interior Designer Karen lane loves restoring old and unused furniture, she often looks for second-hand goods to “up-cycle”. With times of austerity upon us, “up-cycling” is becoming the hottest new way of re-decorating without the huge price tag.

Karen gives us some examples of pieces she’s restored and how she went about doing it! So if you fancy re-vamping a room or particular piece of furniture check out Karens tips below and let us know how you got on – send us pictures or a video! Or, if you’d like Karen to sprinkle some of her design magic on your old furniture, you can contact her through her website Autograph Interior Designs.

Mood board created by Kellie Hill
Words and pictures by Karen lane


Filed under Bedroom Interiors, chic, distance learning, Eco-friendly, higher education, Home Acessories, homeware, Kitchen Interiors, Living room Interiors, News, Periord Ideas, small businesses, Style, sustainable interiors, The National Design Academy