Chris Bentley

Chris Bentley

Master of Design student
Bachelor of Design in Spatial Design

He would thoroughly recommend spatial design to any student interested in design, says Chris Bentley who came to AUT to study a Bachelor of Design in Spatial Design and is now enrolled in a Master of Design.

“Spatial design is such a broad discipline. If your practice involves creating any kind of experience, atmosphere or outcome for people, spatial design will be relevant to you. It’s a discipline that offers a lot of freedom and room for experimentation. Spatial design crosses the thresholds of various practices like that of architecture and landscape architecture, interior design, as well as visual and graphic art, among others.

“For me, the three years of the Bachelor of Design just flew by. It was a fantastic, stressful, challenging and highly rewarding time. I was particularly proud of the exhibition we put on as a class for AD19, the end-of-year art and design showcase.”

He thoroughly enjoyed his time in the studio, lecture halls and the AUT City Campus, says Chris who received the Head of School award for the top spatial design student in 2019.

“The studio culture developed by our year group was particularly enjoyable. It was a pleasure to work and collaborate on campus with an incredibly talented group of likeminded people. This includes the technicians and workshop staff whose expertise and willingness to help enabled us to make great use of the extensive available facilities, like that of the wet lab for example.”

Choosing AUT
Chris says he chose to study spatial design to answer some of the questions he struggled to answer himself.

“In high school I studied graphics and visual art. While I enjoyed these classes, I was unsure of why I did. Looking at the types of things I was drawing and designing, I noticed a theme: the human experience within the built and unbuilt world. After hearing from lecturers that spatial design focused on this type of relationship, I was sure I could find some answers as to why I enjoyed the types of things I was making and how I could turn this into a career.”

AUT was the only university he really considered, Chris says.

“I had heard great things about AUT’s School of Art and Design, both from students and from a teaching assistant who taught at my high school. When I attended AUT’s open day, AUT LIVE, this experience solidified my choice and motivated me to apply to study AUT’s Bachelor of Design.”

A look at the world of memorials
After completing his Bachelor of Design at the end of 2019, Chris is now enrolled in a Master of Design; an opportunity for him to further explore his fascination with memorial swimming pools.

“The way memorials foster and hold atmosphere feels entirely unique. I’ve always regarded them as being unusual and interesting spaces. They’re a kind of microclimate or microcosm. My inability to pin down a reason as to why I find them so fascinating encouraged me to pursue postgraduate study and articulate my feelings and interest surrounding them.

“For my research, I’m using the making and writing processes I developed in my undergraduate degree to use these strange, disjunctive spaces as the focal points for an inquiry into the atmosphere, function and importance of memorials. By exploring this abstract interest, I should glean some insight on their functions, aesthetics and influence in a way that serves as a unique contribution to the expanded field of design literature.”

Chris’ research is supervised by Dr Carl Douglas and Rafik Patel from AUT’s School of Art and Design.

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