Based in a lofty, 900-square-metre warehouse in Collingwood, the new Mercer School of Interior Design adds another creative institution to Melbourne’s inner north.

If you’re a bit put off by being a little fish in big sea of undergraduates, this might be what you’re looking for. The school takes a maximum of 95 students on campus at one time, and is determined to do things differently.

“I’m a little bit anti-folio,” says the school’s director and founder, Diane Bergeron. Of course it’s nice to know a student can follow direction, but I’d rather see what their take is.”

Originally a New Yorker, Bergeron’s been doing interior design for 25 years. She moved her practice to Australia with her husband in 2003. Back home she did a course in painting and sculpture. She has never formally studied interior design.

As part of the Republica education group, Mercer will offer VET-accredited interior-design courses online and face-to-face, taking a non-institutional approach to teaching.

Bergeron’s students will be learning from those in the industry here and abroad. As part of any of the courses offered, students have the option of spending their final semester in New York and Los Angeles.

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Mercer’s not only about producing graduates who will make pretty homes for wealthy clients, though. Students will be invited to participate in its philanthropic arm, Design for Mirabel – Mirabel being the only organisation in Australia supporting orphaned or abandoned children of drug-addicted parents.

For prospective students, there are alternate pathways into the course – they can show their work via Instagram, for example. Equipment bursaries and scholarships are also available.

For the moment, classes have begun in Melbourne so you just might find Bergeron’s protégés coming to an interior near you.

Mercer School of Interior Design
67-69 Cromwell Street, Collingwood
(03) 9999 1151