Caroline Vains


Academic, researcher, designer (interior, performance, social and urban interventions)
Lecturer and Specialisation Course Coordinator
Internships coordinator (Australia and Asia)


Caroline Vains is a designer with many years of experience working professionally across a range of design practices inclusive of interior, event, theatre, film and television design. As an interior designer she spent nine years from 1996–2005 working in a number of well-established Melbourne architecture practices, generally on large-scale projects across the retail, residential, leisure and corporate sectors. A number of these were international projects in China, Japan and Dubai.

In addition to her work as a professional designer, Caroline also has 18 years experience preparing and teaching design courses across a number of universities in Melbourne, Sydney, and Beijing (RMIT University, Monash University and Swinburne University in Melbourne, the University of Technology in Sydney, and Tsinghua University in Beijing, China). She joined RMIT’s School of Architecture and Design as a full time staff member in 2011 after a long and almost continuous relationship as a sessional tutor dating back to 1998.

Caroline’s design research practice brings design and performance together to investigate the relationship between people, politics and the built environment in late capitalist cities and society. She has conducted extensive research into the city as a branded environment; the ‘city of shopping’ as ‘a hall of mirrors’; its mechanisms of display and seduction; the overlaps, conflicts and compromises between public urban space and private commercial interests; and the impact of consumer culture on city design and the design profession more generally. In this research, Caroline frequently uses fieldwork methodologies that involve body mapping, performance-based interventions, and urban drifting ‘with intent’.

Increasingly, Caroline’s design research practice has focused on community-based participatory design, design as an instrument for social innovation, the role of temporary urban interventions in generating inclusive communities, and designing for not-for- profit organisations and marginalised communities. She has also investigated new and innovative applications for video projection and digital mapping in urban and interior space.

Caroline is currently a member of the Performing Creative Practices Research Group at RMIT University, the Research Institute on Social Cohesion (RIOSC, Department of Premier and Cabinet, Victorian Government), and the Welcoming Cities Associates Network (City of Melbourne and Scanlon Foundation).

Pictured project in collaboration with Christof Mayer and RMIT Interior Design Students in 2016.