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Graduate profile // Meet Carolina Ghigonetto

Carolina Ghigonetto moved to Sydney from Italy 7 years ago, not knowing a word of English. What was initially intended as a travel experience lasting a few months turned into a more permanent move, including graduating with a Diploma of Interior Design.

Carolina has kicked some serious career goals including winning the Interior Design Online Director’s Award for Exceptional Achievement. She was a finalist in The Design Institute of Australia’s Graduate of the Year Award, Interior Decoration category, which receives entries from universities and tertiary institutions Australia-wide.

Super focussed on starting her design career, Carolina produced a stunning portfolio of work during her Diploma course and went in search of job opportunities. She’s now thriving in large design and construction firm Norrsken Ko⁠ as well as taking on her own clients.

Why did you decide to study interior design?

My background is in retail, hospitality and fashion design. I’ve always been fascinated by the design world and I’m a creative thinker. My partner (who is also my number one supporter) thought interior design would be a good fit for me and he encouraged me to pursue it.

I decided to study online for practicality. I was working as a store manager full time and I needed a course that had flexible hours – IDO was absolutely perfect.

I loved every second of my time at IDO! I found the course was very well structured and I really liked the flexibility. The educators were extremely helpful and responsive and I have learnt so much from their feedback.

What did you enjoy about the Diploma of Interior Design?

I really enjoyed every project I worked on, but I remember looking forward to getting to the Commercial Design unit. The café project (above) was definitely my favourite as it allowed me to be the most creative.

The design brief was for the renovation of The Bower, a waterfront café in Manly, with the aim to create a casual, but sophisticated beach style. My concept of “flow” was inspired by the undulating movement of waves. I implemented it throughout the space by using harmonious curves and a sinuous parametric timber wall at the centre of the space. My choice of materials and raw finishes, combined with a pastel colour palette, was led by the aim to create a cosy and relaxed atmosphere.

Do you have any advice for current students?

Working in the industry is so valuable. While I was studying I was working full time for a furniture supplier, King Living. It was great! I learnt so much about fabrics and it exposed me to the industry. I was giving design advice to clients and dealing with designers and architects.

Ask questions and don’t be afraid to call professionals in the design industry if there is something you are not sure about. Everyone was once in your shoes and they understand the importance of mentoring.

Congratulations on being Highly Commended in the DIA Graduates of the Year Awards!

Thank you, I’m still so excited. I submitted 3 of my favourite commercial projects which showcased different styles and materials selections. I tried to be as cohesive as possible with the presentation boards to create a story. I was in Italy on holiday when I had the interview for the awards and also when I found out I’d won the Commendation. I feel so proud and it really boosted my confidence.

What do you love about your career and where do you see yourself in a few years?

I love how interior spaces can really evoke client’s emotions. I really enjoy going through the design process, showcasing my ideas and then transforming them into reality. Being able to see months – and even years – of hard work come to fruition into a finished product is why I chose this career path.

I definitely see myself as a lead Interior Designer. My aspiration is to focus on residential homes for a wide demographic. I want to continually learn about new styles and explore different ideas to expand my knowledge and enable me to design unique interiors.

Tell us about your beautiful home

My fiancé and I bought the property less than a year ago with the intention of renovating it. We decided (and when I say ‘we’ I mostly mean I!) to go for a very soothing colour palette, with white being the predominant tone as we both like the idea of coming home after a long and stressful day to be immersed by a calming and relaxing space.

Michael and I both have very similar aesthetics in terms of personal style. We both like very minimal, elegant and monochromatic interiors and he really believes in me and trusts me with any design decision.

Fast four

Where do your find inspiration?
Italian architecture, art and fashion have always inspired my designs.

Design hero
Luigi Rosselli. I love how every project is so unique and distinctive.

Favourite things to do in Sydney?
Coastal walks and swimming at the beach.

Favourite design trend?
Bouclé and Venetian plasters.