Interior design training in Sydney in the 1940s
Helen Jean Burgess began a design and interior decoration course in 1943. Her training included a series of assignments requiring her to render domestic and commercial interiors in watercolours.
A typical project for students in the 1940s was to take an outdated room and turn it into a space more suited to new ideas in modern living. The Sydney Morning Herald sponsored a competition, ‘Herald homes’, in which students like Burgess produced low cost, functional designs to meet the challenges of post-World War II shortages of labour and materials. Another task long required of students at technical colleges and schools was to produce a realistic botanical drawing of a flower or plant and turn it into an applied surface design for a textile or wallpaper.