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Study Spatial Design - Te Tohu Paetahi mō te Hoahoa - Bachelor of Design

Spatial designers create places for people to live, work, play and imagine. Study the Spatial Design major to prepare for a career designing interiors, furniture, exhibitions, events, outdoor spaces, retail environments, scenes for stage and film, and art installations.

As a spatial design student, you unlock the potential of places by designing spatial environments that support, influence, and transform how we live now and into the future. You’ll learn from an expert team who has been teaching spatial and interior designers for nearly forty years.

In our studios, you’ll work on design briefs across the whole field of spatial design. We encourage you to find your own standpoint and voice and respond imaginatively to your place in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. You test and evolve your ideas through drawings, models, digital simulations and hands-on prototypes, and work with community and industry partners.

Student projects

Our students work on a wide range of projects across the discipline of spatial design. You can view examples of some the projects by our spatial design students on the link below.

View student projects

Talk to us about your study options

Thinking about studying at AUT? Book a time with us to discuss your study options.

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This is part of the Te Tohu Paetahi mō te Hoahoa - Bachelor of Design.

Spatial design is the design of human environments from the inside out. This major covers the theory and practical skills to prepare you for a career in this exciting field.

At AUT spatial design degree is highly interdisciplinary, so there are lots of opportunities to cross-over with disciplines like visual art, textiles, industrial design and others; and the option to continue into postgraduate study in either design or architecture.

Our secret is to start with human experience — how spaces feel and function, and what they mean to people. What will they see, hear and touch? We think about details like surface, colour, pattern, connection. We consider how materials and light can be used creatively to give spaces a particular character, and we understand how things change over time through interaction, shifting uses and evolving stories.

If you're a full-time student, you normally complete 120 points each year (360 points for the entire degree).

Year 1

We focus on intimate spaces, considering how we experience and perceive the things close to us. We introduce you to essential spatial concepts and walk you through a spatial design process. You'll analyse familiar spaces from new perspectives, explore materials, and spend time developing your drawing and digital modelling skills.

You'll visualise in three dimensions, working with materials, light, surfaces and time to create atmosphere.

In the second semester you’ll start your chosen minor courses, which can complement your major or add some diversity to your overall mix of study. Instead of your minor courses you could also study an additional major.

Courses you study this year

You’ll also take two courses from your chosen minor(s) or an additional major.

Year 2

We look at shared spaces; places where we meet and interact with others. You'll analyse real sites and make things in our workshops.

You'll apply your developing creative vocabulary and design process to new, more complex scenarios, and learn about producing instructional documentation.

You also continue with your minor or additional major courses throughout the second year of study.

Courses you study this year

  • Plus 4 courses for your minor or additional major

Year 3

We ask you to consider public spaces and situations like streets, galleries, and public events. You'll take more control over the design process, building a brief in response to your own analysis of a given situation.

You'll explore more advanced uses of digital tools, reflect on your practice, and put together portfolio-ready projects and complete your final minor or additional major courses in the first semester of the third year.

The year culminates in a public exhibition to place your work in the public eye.

Courses you study this year

  • Plus 2 courses for your minor or additional major

More details about courses in this programme

Search for a course (Arion)

Email artbox@aut.ac.nz

Enrolment in courses is subject to meeting all requirements and availability of courses.

You can study the following minors when you are enrolled in AUT’s design or visual arts degree:

Explore the process and materiality of animated drawing as a means for ideation and creative expression.

The minor has a studio lab component where you'll examine different animated drawing practices, including life drawing, and produce short animated films, installations, motion graphics, comics, graphic novels and picture books.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Cinematic Arts

Discover the possibilities of filmmaking through analogue and digital cinematography, sound recording and audio design, editing and post-production, storytelling and industry workflow, to make a short narrative, experimental or documentary film.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Contemporary Pacific

Develop your creative practice drawing on contemporary and traditional Pacific concepts, contexts and material culture. Pacific concepts and stories are explored in relation to pattern, movement, and spatial systems.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Creative Entrepreneurship

Build your creative business confidence and capability by combining your creative strengths with business skills and understandings to transform your ideas and concepts for the future.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from courses listed below with at least 15 points at level 6

Level 5 courses

Students usually take ARDN502 in their first year, and one of the other two level 5 courses listed above in their second year of study.

Level 6 courses

Level 7 course

Design for Health

Tomorrow's health and wellbeing will be driven by those who can apply creative and practical problem-solving skills to complex problems. This minor offers a fresh perspective through collaborative and cooperative tools, skills and mindsets. You'll design for positive social impact and lead transformative change in health and wellbeing.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Design for Social and Environmental Justice

Discover how design can make a difference. Explore strategies for social innovation and environmental impact and how these can contribute to towards a more resilient, sustainable and just future.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a mindset and set of creative methods that can be used to interrogate, understand and solve real-life business, social and environmental problems. You'll develop an understanding of the needs of the people you're designing for, experiment and explore creative ideas, and create design solutions.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

This minor is aimed at students who are interested in developing design thinking expertise to support their major discipline area.

Minor must include

60 points from courses listed below including DESN501 with at least 15 points at level 7

Digital Fabrication

Explore how digital fabrication can facilitate art and design creative practices, through the utilisation and application of a range of current and emergent technologies.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Enrolment in this minor is subject to approval from the Art & Design Minors, Head of Department.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Experimental Surface Design

Get involved in the experimental development of surface practice across a range of disciplines and potential applications. This minor emphasises the importance of learning through making and the relationship between the maker, the materials, the process of making and the work.

Students develop conceptual and technical surface design knowledge through applied materials practice.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you'll study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Enrolment in this minor is subject to approval from the Art & Design Minors, Head of Department.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Extended Reality

Explore extended reality technologies - XR, VR, AR and MR - as tools for design and ideation for creating immersive user experiences across a range of design and creative practices.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

In Print: Publishing Practices

Experiment with traditional and contemporary publishing practices using a range of media, conventions and technologies. Explore and design with text and image to develop personal, professional and community voices through the published artefact.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Motion Capture

Explore motion capture (mocap) technology that records human movement as 3D data for use in a range of design and creative disciplines.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Enrolment in this minor is subject to approval from the Art & Design Minors, Head of Department.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Photographic Practice

Discover visual conventions and develop technical competencies to include DSLR camera fundamentals, exposure and lighting control, composition principles and image making strategies for project outcomes.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Enrolment in this minor is subject to approval from the Art & Design Minors, Head of Department.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Temporary Practices/Temporary Publics

As artists and designers, we are interested in practising by making – doing projects that have currency and real-world capacity. We work through ideas of site, collaboration and publication in order to create events. Temporary Practices is an experimental, creative field of making. This minor supports the development of work across a range of disciplines and potential applications by using AUT facilities (3D Lab, WetLab, Bindery, Risograph printer).

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You will need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you will study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Enrolment in this minor is subject to approval from the Art & Design Minors, Head of Department.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Additional majors and minors for bachelor’s degrees

Add an additional major or a minor to your bachelor’s degree and study another area that interests you. You can choose from a wide range of additional majors or minors.

Additional majors and minors for bachelor’s degrees

  • Spatial designer/interior designer
  • Event and experience designer
  • Designing for stage and film
  • Furniture design
  • Retail design

Our graduates work in significant roles in major New Zealand interior design offices, lead their own firms, and work with community organisations like councils, museums, and schools.

They design residences and office interiors, healthcare spaces, gardens, kitchens, jewellery, and yacht interiors. They have contributed to the design of social housing, high-end apartments, retail and hospitality venues, and blockbuster film sets. They have exhibited at the Venice Biennale, and interned with Sundance Film Festival and MoMA in New York.

spatial-design-career-sheet.jpg

Find out more about industry trends, job descriptions and what employers may be looking for.

Spatial Design Careers

Key features
  • Hands-on, studio-based learning
  • A blend of practical, imaginative and critical thinking
  • Learn to visualise space using models, drawings, digital simulation and physical prototypes
  • Unlock the potential of existing buildings and places through innovative design
  • Develop a flexible and collaborative creative process
See yourself as
  • Fascinated with spaces, interiors, atmosphere and experiences
  • Driven by ideas and imagination
  • Someone who loves exploring and experimenting
  • A thinker, maker or planner
Matangireia Mita Ngarua Yates-Francis
Angel Chen
Frank Liu
Hana Stay
Monica Joy Barbosa

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.

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