Ruth Milne’s experience is the perfect recipe for a spatial designer. After studying interior design at Middlesex University, she was hired by architect Hawkins Brown, before moving to the 3D design department at Exposure Design.
The Hawkins Brown experience was crucial in developing and refining her architectural drawing ability, broadening her client management experience and presentation skills. Interior projects included Stoke Newington Town Hall and the reception for Tolworth Tower. Exposure, meanwhile, has given her experience in exhibition design, event and experiential and retail design.
Working in two very different disciplines has been ‘really beneficial’, says Milne. ‘I thrive on the fast pace of exhibition design, the variety of projects, and their quick turnaround deadlines. But I also value the discipline of architecture, the attention to detail and the satisfaction of contributing to the built environment.’
The experience has also enabled Milne to become flexible. ‘I can draw upon architecture, interior, exhibition, event and experiential, and retail design on any project,’ she says. ‘My early exposure to design has been fundamental in my progress.’
Other inspiration comes from working with people from very different backgrounds, says Milne. ‘I find it refreshing and it has had an impact on the way I think and feel.’ She is also drawn to the work of artists Olafur Eliasson and Do-Ho Suh, admiring the former’s flexibility, versatility and multisensory work and the latter’s ‘beautiful, meticulously crafted architectural forms’.
Projects at Exposure have included The Wedding List exhibition stand for London’s House of Fraser, a Blue Peter exhibition at the National Media Museum in Bradford and a Bulmers sampling area for the summer festival circuit. Milne is particularly proud of last year’s pop-up store for Vitamin Water, which she ran from initial design to on-site installation. The store’s lighting changed six times an hour to showcase each of the six new products to promote the message of 24-hour hydration.
Even though the industry is going through a difficult time, it is exciting, says Milne. Clients are asking for impact designs on ever-shrinking budgets, ‘which requires you to generate original and innovative ideas’, she says. ‘The necessity to be one step ahead of the competition means you have to push yourself and your designs to be the best that they can be.’
Milne frequently goes back to university to teach students about designing in the real world. ‘I think it’s important as a student to learn from designers or architects who are in the industry,’ she explains, and she herself is keen to keep on learning. ‘My ambition is to continue exploring the world of design and work with like-minded creative and enthusiastic people. There are still many valuable skills to gain, and because of these I remain enthusiastic about the challenges my future holds,’ she says.
2005 BA Interior Design Middlesex University
2005-2008 Interior designer Hawkins Brown Architects
2008 to present Creative Exposure Design
‘From the beginning, Ruth Milne demonstrated a delight in colour, form and surface, structured by a recognition of the emotional and practical needs of the building user. Ruth is always aware of the potential contribution of other disciplines, and her final college project was an eloquent demonstration of the approach and skills that have made such a useful contribution to her professional career. Her work is dynamic and attention-grabbing. It is successful because of its seductive forms and colours, and because of the deep understanding of organisation and the values that underpin it.’
John Coles Senior lecturer and interior architecture programme leader Middlesex University