UNSW partners with retail giant Temple & Webster to launch students careers in product design and development

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday
Temple & Webster's Head of Design and Product Development, Roger Wei (centre) with UNSW lecturers and students.

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) School of Built Environment has partnered with online furniture & homewares retailer, Temple & Webster, to give its fourth year Industrial Design honours students an opportunity to have their concepts produced and sold nationwide.

Seven students were challenged to create products that answered the question ‘How might Temple & Webster reimagine bedroom furniture to elevate sleep quality, nurture wellbeing, and adapt to the evolving needs of Australians?’ Students then presented their research and ideas in several critique sessions with Temple & Webster buyers and designers, aiming for their concepts to be considered for further development and potential future sales by the national retailer. 

The project has advanced students’ concepts through feasibility testing with buyers for potential production in 2025. Two students will intern with the nation’s largest online furniture and homewares retailer to further develop these ideas. 

“Creating opportunities for students to gain real-world exposure and outcomes increases their ability to transition into the working world after their studies,” says Dr Mariano Ramirez, Senior Lecturer and Discipline Director, Industrial Design, UNSW School of Built Environment.

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“At UNSW, our process to select industry partners is guided by alignment to our education goals which are innovation, commitment to sustainability and real-world impact. We seek partners who share our commitment to these values and who can offer tangible learning experiences that complement our academic rigour. The partnership with Temple & Webster was particularly compelling due to their leadership in the online furniture and homewares market and their commitment to design excellence.”

Supporting local talent

Working with emerging designers is essential to the Australian online retailer’s commitment to supporting the local talent pool while growing its own Design & Product development team.

“We’re thrilled to be able to support the next generation of designers and offer them real-world experiences of what it’s like to work in the online furniture and homewares industry,” says Head of Design & Product Development at Temple & Webster, Roger Wei.

“We’ve been blown away by the innovative thinking and quality of the responses and hope to bring a number of them to life for these talented students.”

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“Our team scours the globe for the latest design trends, collaborating with international industry bodies, researchers, and suppliers. Partnering with UNSW has enabled us to share our expertise with the next generation of homegrown talent and tap into a cohort brimming with innovative ideas.”

Student and recently appointed Temple & Webster intern, Matthew Rajchert, recognises the opportunity for the partnership to provide retailers with emerging talent:

“Entering into any career can be challenging, so I’m thrilled to have a pathway into a role in Industrial Design. Partnerships like this are invaluable in helping students develop essential aspects of their careers beyond the classroom, advancing skills and gaining a deep understanding of business imperatives and networking that are critical in the workplace,” he says.

A second UNSW student Hongjun Qian will also join the Temple & Webster Design and Product Development team as interns for 120 hours across their final year second term and will gain experience in product development across the research, concepting, feasibility testing, production and sales stages. 

“We’re thrilled to welcome our new colleagues to the team. They’ve shown great promise and will be able to help bring their creations to life and hopefully add them to the thousands of products available at Temple & Webster,” says Wei.

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“We look forward to seeing their success and hope to work with UNSW again to offer more students these types of real-world experiences and opportunities.”

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]brandx.live