Growing up in the quaint town of Boylston, Massachusetts, 19-year-old Mike Groccia could once only appreciate London’s lustre through photographs. What he saw was enough to explore the idea of studying there one day. When the time came to select a university — where he hoped to pinpoint a career aligned with his passion for sustainability — only one option felt right.
“I was really interested to see that Kingston School of Art was rated first in the UK for design and crafts,” he says. “I am passionate about sustainability and innovative approaches to design, which its School of Art’s programmes aptly encourage.”
The programme he chose — the Interior Design BA (Hons) — was designed to teach the art of creating dynamic and thought-provoking interior environments. To achieve this, the programme focuses on helping students like Groccia to develop the practical skills and imagination needed to enrich the experience of modern life. It also encourages the honing of technical knowledge needed in today’s professional environments.
Hence, Groccia spends most of his time working in purpose-built design studios and world-class workshops or the School of Art’s well-stocked, dedicated art and design library — where he finds everything he needs and more to effectively complete coursework and draft compelling essays. When in need of additional support, it’s always easy to come about. “My personal tutor always offers spot-on advice to help me complete my projects,” says Groccia.
Such guidance is part and parcel of the signature Kingston experience. “Every student has a personal tutor that will be really inducting them on how various industries work,” confirms Dr. Jake Abrams, an associate professor at the School of Art.
“For example, we have a live partnership with Penguin Random House — one of the biggest publishers in the UK. Together, we give students the opportunity to work with top authors, designers, and art directors on real-life projects. This is something that would look great on the CV of a fresh graduate.”
The newfound skills Groccia has already added to his work include orthographic drawing, digital model making, and the creative process of design. He credits comprehensive classes for helping him master these competencies in just under a year. With every lesson, he grows closer to evolving into the kind of expert his university is known for producing.
“I’ve been given great advice on how to improve my craft, how to present my work, and how to push my design concepts further,” he confirms. “My programme has challenged me in the best way possible, and I’ve learned so much in the process.”
“Exciting,” “challenging” and “busy” are three words he would use to describe his experience so far, however, the combination was inspired by far more than just robust academic offerings. Outside the classroom, Groccia is equally engaged.
For example, he’s a proud member of the Yoga Club — a unique offering he credits for keeping him centred. The university hosts two classes a week free of charge to ensure imaginative students are exercising their bodies as much as their minds. “I feel a lot healthier,” says Groccia. Kingston is home to over 90 other student clubs and societies uniting learners and helping them form meaningful connections with their community, country, faith or political group. Groccia has forged many.
Together, they relish everything London has to offer. Groccia is glad to not have much downtime thanks to the fresh opportunities and adventures that come with a new day — Dr. Abrams and the rest of Kingston’s renowned faculty encourage such excursions.
“We actively encourage our students to go out and leverage London by experiencing the dance, drama and music that fill its streets,” he says. Leverage, Groccia has. He’s taken on part-time jobs during the holiday season, enjoyed world-class retail therapy after classes and even ventured to Paris, France some weekends for a change of scenery. However, nothing has come close to his first impressions of London.
“My most memorable non-academic experience must be my first day trip to central London,” he affirms. “I visited the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, and Buckingham Palace with my flatmates. The weather was beautiful, and the sights were amazing! Living so close to London’s architecture and galleries is such a treat, and living in a new country has been both exciting and eye-opening.”