Meet Ilse Prinsloo: Interior Design HOD at UJ

Ilse Prinsloo studied Interior Design in the late-80s and has been in education for over 20 years. She is currently the Head of Department in the Department of Interior Design at the University of Johannesburg, but first heard of the PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative when she was a student – and took part herself. We asked her to tell us a bit more about why she believes in the competition.

How do you think PG Bison has managed to keep the 1.618 Education Initiative so exciting even after 30 years?

The key to PG Bison’s success with this initiative is how much they appreciate our feedback. There is a debriefing session after each competition where stakeholders like lecturers can have a frank conversation about what works and doesn’t.

They have worked closely with institutions to design a competition that aligns with what students have learned and even structured it so that proposals can be assessed, and students can receive marks for their ideas.

The 1.618 competition is my favourite part of the third-year curriculum because we get industry expert feedback about how we’re doing and whether we’re still on track with preparing students with relevant knowledge and expertise.

The PG Bison team members are a much-anticipated presence at the institutions, and students get inspired after listening to their presentations about their latest products. The prize and prestige are a great incentive too, so the students dig deep to take everything they have learned to present the best solutions possible.

Does the PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative prepare students for real life?

Yes, because PG Bison deals with socially relevant issues and challenges students to find innovative solutions to real problems.

The briefs are pitched at students preparing to look for jobs in the real world. While the brief lets them be creative and think outside the box, it also allows lecturers to teach different topologies in our third-year curriculum relevant to global challenges like sustainability or other socio-economic issues.

This initiative forces students to address a real-world problem on a site that exists. For the first time, a student realises the seriousness of their job and how their choices will impact others. The decisions they make aren’t just hypothetical. They must find solutions to real situations with real users in a real space.