TAFE designs star at Sydney Vivid Festival

Destination NSW

TAFE talent on show in the Electric Forest

About 45 highly-creative TAFE NSW design students were given the chance of a lifetime to showcase their work to up to two million global visitors at this year’s Vivid Sydney festival for the first time.

No-one is prouder than one of their event management teachers, George Andrikopolous at the TAFE NSW Design Centre in Enmore, Sydney. “Vivid lasts a whole month and is one of the largest festivals of its kind in Australia and even the world,” he says. “It’s exciting to see our students grow and blossom through this event. They’re so happy to get this fantastic opportunity and it’s been great as a teacher to inspire them. It’s really marvellous.”

Twelve trees, some up to 150 years old, were decorated for the Electric Forest display at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden with different themes, lighting, design and sounds by the students from the Department of Entertainment, Design and Illustration.

The display, set up over three days — which became long nights ending at midnight — is amazing, Mr Andrikopolous said. “We’re ecstatic with the result,” he says. “It’s the biggest collaboration we’ve ever had.”

Destination NSW

Trees that breathe in lights

The tree themes ranged from lightning strikes to dancing possums, a glass dome, glowing bulging eyeballs, centipedes and lungs that breathe to show that trees are alive. One installation by design student Emily Lam, 21, has an environmental theme to raise concerns about waste and uses hundreds of plastic bottles lit up with LED lights (see right).

“This is the biggest thing I’ve ever done,” she says. Taking two months to complete, her design was inspired by a passion for the environment instilled by her family from a young age. “I’m hoping this will give me a lot of exposure to the international design community. Vivid is such a global event with designers from all over the world. It’s like the Olympics but for lighting design,” Emily said.

Her course at the Enmore Design Centre has taught her to design a concept from a brief and has been extremely valuable, she says. “I was at uni before, but this course is 100 per cent better because the teachers and support systems are so good and the other students are so talented. We’re a small, close-knit group and it’s really lovely. Sometimes the teachers believe in you more than you believe in yourself.”

George Andrikopolous, her teacher, who has taught at Enmore for 16 years and works privately in the industry on fashion shows and other international events, encouraged her when she doubted she could realise the Vivid project. He helped organise her team support, bringing some realism to back her concept.

Each year, up to 140 students graduate in subjects such as arts, animation, event management, lighting and sound from the Department of Entertainment, Design and Illustration. They are the designers of tomorrow, serving theatre, film and television and many other creative fields.

The Vivid project has been really special, says Andrikopolous, who taught students how to tackle the original submission and says the project is a substantial addition to their portfolios which may help them with job prospects.

“It’s been wonderful to see them in an environment where they have to conduct themselves really professionally. You see the difference in them and just sit back and think: ‘Wow, did we as teachers contribute to that?’ I get inspired watching them and I actually learn things from them. They are amazing.”

— Shelley Dempsey

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