Shortly after completing Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design studies at EIT’s ideaschool, Jenni Coulson was offered a dream job that combines two of her passions, spatial design and sustainability.
Now based in the settlement of Bombay,south of Auckland, Jenni will be travelling to Napier for this week’s graduation. She is looking forward to catching up with former classmates and sharing the news of her role as a playground designer for Playscape.
Working for the Auckland-based company, she helps creates fun and challenging outdoor spaces at early childhood centres nationwide.
“It brings playground design and landscaping together,” she says of her work. “It’s a niche company creating natural playgrounds. So rather than big plastic equipment, they use timber, stones and other natural materials in designing and building playgrounds for kids.”
An offshoot of the company, Playscape Edibles provides tools for young children to grow and harvest their own vegetables and fruit.
The 21-year-old didn’t expect to score a job right away. In fact, she was thinking of travelling to Europe to work as a WWOOFer (a willing worker on organic farms). However, she spotted the Playscape job ad online and thought “that sounds like me”.
Growing up on a lifestyle block in Waipawa, Jenni attended Taradale High School. In her final year, she considered where to take her love of design.
“Although I was interested in architecture, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to solely concentrate on that. When I found out that EIT’s visual arts and design degree covered spatial, object and graphic design as well as other art subjects I decided that was for me.”
Having developed skills and abilities across a range of disciplines, she feels she is well-equipped for future jobs. She’s also pleased that Vectorworks, the 3D modelling program used by ideaschool students, is what she works with in her new job.
“It does everything I need including fly throughs, so I can show my designs to clients to give them a better visual understanding of what I come up with. It can be very hard for someone if you just show a two-dimensional plan. It’s hard to visualise in situ.”
Jenni flatted in Taradale while studying. Awarded an EIT Year 13 study grant, she found tertiary study in Hawke’s Bay less expensive than it would have been in Wellington.
“I completely loved it at ideaschool. It’s a close-knit community and you and your peers become a family. The lecturers can help push you further and, if you have an issue, the answer is just a question away.”
For her final-year Intrinsic project, Jenni developed a modular building system using pentagonal shapes that can be used in a variety of formations to suit the client’s needs.
“I’ve always had a great passion for spatial art,” she says. “I’m also interested in the environmental side of things – sustainability and how that benefits the community.”
Thrilled to be working in an area that brings these aspects together, Jenni expects her role will develop to include meeting clients, formulating briefs and visiting sites as projects progress.