Carolanda du Toit on the value of 1.618

Carolanda du Toit is a third-year lecturer at VEGA IIE Durban Campus. She started her career at the Durban Institute of Technology around the same time PG Bison launched the 1.618 Education Initiative 30 years ago, and since she teaches the third-year students, it became her responsibility to prepare students for the competition. One of her students, Matt de Beyer, won the competition in 2008.

We asked Carolanda to share some of her experiences as a lecturer, as well as why she thinks the competition is still valuable, 30 years down the line.

Carolanda, why do you believe the PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative is a valuable competition for institutions?

The PG Bison 1.618 Initiative is a wonderful opportunity to benchmark our students against other institutions. The prizes certainly generate interest, students strive to win.

The competition is eagerly anticipated, even amongst the first-year students. They cannot wait to participate when they get to third year. It provides students with valuable industry product knowledge and great opportunities for students in the world of work. It is a landmark competition.

It offers the students fantastic opportunities to showcase their talents and help to launch their careers. A student from Vega came second last year, and the Durban community was so excited that the media picked up her story, and she received a great deal of exposure, both locally and nationally.

What keeps the PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative exciting for you?

PG Bison produces such innovative briefs that institutions want to participate. But the institutions usually have very different curricula, so interpreting the brief can be challenging if it differs from what usually gets taught as part of the course. Given that the Initiative is open to both architectural and interior design students, a few briefs won’t be within the scope of some students.

Can you give us an example of what you mean?

Sure! Different sites get chosen each year, and the brief requires that submissions address specific challenges. For example, when a quarry was selected as the site last year, it was more of an urban planning brief than one suited to interior design students. Despite this challenge, interior design students performed well in 2021, even though it wasn’t closely related to their studies.

Do you think the PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative has positively influenced the industry?

Yes, it’s amazing how PG Bison has successfully stayed the course. They are investing in young designers in staying relevant and encouraging the new generation to perform beyond expectation.

Since institutions only submit entries that achieve a very high standard, students must go above and beyond for the chance to participate. This helps them understand what an acceptable submission should look like, so when they need to pitch for projects and submit proposals for jobs in the real world, the work is professional and of the highest industry standard.