The designing eye

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We owe good designers a big thank you. They are the ones who create spaces, places and things, both tangible and ethereal, which please the eye, engage our senses and stimulate (or soothe) our minds. While it’s true that clever design is managing our experiences, influencing us and shaping our perception this isn’t anything to fear. It’s just great design doing its job. Smart design can be as small as a business card, as savvy as a social media platform, or as grand and green as a public parkland.

Some people seem to have been naturally gifted with a designing eye. You probably know one; they throw on clothes without stressing about their ‘outfit’ and casually add a surprise element, a unique piece which rockets their look from commonplace to out-of-the-ballpark special. Their homes are elegant without being formal, they may only have a tiny courtyard, but somehow they’ve morphed this cement square into a magical city garden. While I silently scream “How did they do it?” the natural stylonista (I just made that up) doesn’t think too hard, they just get on with doing it.

While it looks effortless the reality is that behind the scenes it’s hard work. That’s good news because it means that there is still hope for the rest of us. The elements of design can be taught: how to balance colour by controlling its saturation and hue, the astute use of texture, the skilful manipulation of shapes and lines and then – voila! – how to pull it all together, so that the finished design has an inherent balance and sense of stability.

And where else, but in the West End, could you go to learn these skills? Behind the eye-wateringly yellow door in the Parry Street cul-de-sac lives the Hunter Design School the city’s sole destination for ‘tactile creative training’. Such training respects artisan sensibilities and honours the use of our senses in the artistic process; here touching and smelling remain central to the design experience.

I love the School’s no-nonsense definition of success: We believe that technology should be used as a tool, not a driver; that talent should be nurtured, trained, challenged and encouraged in a supportive and safe environment; and that mistakes expected, as without them, we couldn’t stumble upon innovation.

The School’s founder, Donna Burrell, has almost 30 years in the design industry and she brings this wealth of experience to the courses she teaches. On offer are certificate and diploma courses, including Colour Planning & Consulting and Interior Design & Styling. For those new to design concepts they run casual creative workshops. For working designers they hold professional development workshops enabling them to take their skills and practice further. Philosophically the School encourages students to not only learn from the collective guidance of their teachers, but to realise their own unique potential as well.

If your head and heart is telling you to be a designer then hot foot it down to Parry Street. At this unique educational provider they’re exploring their creative potential, being challenged, getting messy, joyfully making mistakes and celebrating innovation. Even with my eyes closed that looks beautiful to me.

Hunter Design School is behind the big yellow door at 67 Parry Street Newcastle West. Phone 4915 7007 Email: You can find them on Facebook: Hunter Design School. Term dates for 2015 are now up on their website:

Kimberly O’Sullivan

Have you chosen the West End as your home or as the perfect place to run your business? Do you have a West End tale which deserves a wider audience? What inspires and infuriates you about the West End? If you have a story to tell I would love to talk to you! Here’s how to find me:; 0413 250 155.


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