A new Retail Interior Design education paradigm for a circular economy

Philip Whiting, Vanessa Cullen

Research output: Working paper


Undergraduate interior design students were introduced to the concept of a circular economy as part of a work integrated learning retail design project and their outcomes have highlighted limited understanding and much confusion. The teaching and learning of interior design is a process that has its foundation in an unsustainable, traditional linear economy which operates in a closed linear sequence of design, specification and fit-out. Given the advent of a circular economy, typical strategies for change focus on circularising existing business models or creating new ones, where design is seen as the service provider adapting its processes accordingly. This constrains and misdirects any potential for effective design innovation in the future and highlights the need for interior design methodology to be completely rethought in order to create a sustainable circular design ecosystem. This then can form the basis to develop a new model of teaching and learning of interior design as a circular ecosystem for the retail built environment.
Through analysis of the nature and existing use of design within a circular economy, the intention is to conceptualise the deconstruction of the existing linear process of interior design learning and teaching and then to rebuild that process as a sustainable circular retail interior design methodology. This paper sets out to identify key design principles as a foundation to construct a circular interior design ecosystem teaching and learning model. We aim to begin to identify what undergraduate interior design students will need to learn and how they should learn in future, so that they, in turn, can educate other related industries through professional interaction within the retail development process.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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