We have a world class faculty known for their excellent teaching, and meaningful scholarship. Most important, we are a dedicated and well-rounded group of experienced professionals, fully committed to improving the interior design profession, and to preparing students for a rewarding career.

The faculty work to create a learning environment that is supportive while demanding, diverse in its offerings while focused on quality. Our personalized instruction creates a uniquely rich and supportive educational environment for our diverse student body.

The Department also employs adjunct faculty members who are design professionals. These instructors augment the full-time instructional staff, and are hired for their expertise in the areas of instruction, and for their teaching ability.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools requires that all faculty members teaching graduate and post-baccalaureate courses hold a terminal degree in the respective discipline. Therefore, all teaching staff are credentialed through the University and possess a minimum of a Master’s degree in Interior Design, or Interior Architecture or in Architecture. All full time faculty have taken and passed the NCIDQ examination.


Newton D’souza | Chair and Associate Professor

PCA 279A

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Newton D’souza is an Associate Professor at the Department of Interior Architecture, Florida International University. He holds a PhD in architecture from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a Masters degree in design from the National University of Singapore. He has previously served as a Director of Graduate Studies at the Department of Architectural Studies, and a faculty collaborator at the Immersive Lab, University of Missouri-Columbia. He has also practiced as an architect and interior designer at Bangalore, India.

During the past two decades, his research and teaching has focused on design cognition, creativity, human factors for design, environment-behavior and emerging media environments. He is widely published in Journal of Design Studies, Architecture Research Quarterly, and Journal of Design Research. Currently, he is authoring a book titled ‘The Multi-Skilled Designer: A Cognitive Explanation for Diversity in Architectural Thinking’ from Routledge publications involving archival research from reputed and alternative architecture design practices. He initiated the Creative Convergence Network, at the University of Missouri involving a multidisciplinary faculty forum to investigate multidisciplinary team creativity, and whose work was recently published in a special section of journal of design studies.

He serves as an active member of the Environment Design Research Association and the Design Thinking Research Symposium. He is a recipient of several grant funding awards including MU System Research Board award, MU Research Council Award, and Mizzou Advantage Media of the Future Award. He has served as a chair and committee member for various graduate doctoral committees and was a recipient of 2014 Ernest L. Boyer International Award for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Technology.


Philip Abbott | Associate in Design

PCA 385A

Dr. Abbott’s curriculum responsibilities include healthcare design studio, lighting design, acoustic design, construction detailing, programming and thesis seminar. He is a licensed interior designer in the state of Florida and an NCIDQ certificate holder. He is principal of CB:I Design in St. Petersburg, Florida. He received his professional healthcare doctorate from Emory University and a Certificate in Comprehensive Dentistry from the University of Florida, College of Dentistry where he joined the faculty as a Clinical Assistant Professor. His private practice of general dentistry was in Savannah, Georgia. Dr. Abbott is a recipient of both Fellowship and Mastership awards from the Academy of General Dentistry and served on the National Council of Continuing Dental Education for 6 years. His undergraduate and graduate interior design degrees are from the University of Florida where he focused on the acoustic environment, historic preservation, and end-user needs assessment.

As Director of Design for Carter Wolf Interiors, he was responsible for hospitality, healthcare, professional, and residential projects in Orlando, Tampa, Columbia, Miami, and San Francisco. Dr Abbott’s research interest involves motivational needs assessment and participatory design process with a primary emphasis on the healthcare environment.


Janine King | Associate Professor

PCA 387B

Professor King has over fifteen years experience in teaching and administration, and has headed FIU’s Interior Design Department since 2003. She is a licensed Interior Designer in the state of Florida and holds an NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) certificate. She earned her Master of Interior Architecture Degree from the University of Oregon and has won numerous awards for her teaching, research and for her service.

Her research is motivated by a desire to enhance the quality of people’s lives through the production of safe, healthy, useful, and inspirational interior environments. Aimed at improving the depth and quality of the design process, her work focuses on developing and evaluating new procedures and methods that improve the designers’ ability to solve complex problems. This work ranges from a series of funded projects developing, implementing, and evaluating participatory design methods, to projects involving innovative instructional methods directed toward complex problem solving. Her work has resulted in book chapters, journal articles and conference presentations.

Darci Pappano | Instructor

PCA 383A

Darci Pappano has thirteen years of experience teaching undergraduate and graduate level design studios, graphics, digital media, computer applications, and color theory courses.

She earned a Master of Arts in Interior Architecture in 2013, and has a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design from the University of Florida and a Bachelor of Arts in Business and Marketing from the University of South Florida. Darci received a grant from the FIU College of Engineering and Computing for her design research in wayfinding and signage. She has won several awards for design and service. She is the principal of Darci Design, an interior design service located in Miami, Florida. Darci is currently developing new online course offerings for the FIU Department of Interior Architecture.


Katie Rothfield | Senior Instructor

PCA 385A

Katie Rothfield is a Senior Instructor in the Department of Interior Architecture at Florida International University (FIU), a Florida-licensed and NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Certification)-certified interior designer, and a LEED AP ID+C (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional in Interior Design and Construction). Katie earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design from the Savannah College of Art and Design with her thesis, Communicating Preference: An Exploration of Methods for Obtaining Client Preferences for the Interior Environment, and she also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology, with a minor in Studio Art, from Tufts University.

Her professional practice experience consists of work in the hospitality, high-end residential, and corporate design industries with noted design firms such as Gettys and blue, a design company, inc. While a project designer and project manager at Gettys, Katie was a key contributor to the revolutionary Hotel of Tomorrow (H.O.T.) Project™, a thought leadership forum spearheaded by Gettys andHospitality Design magazine to conceptualize the future of the hospitality industry.

Katie was named the 2015 “Educator of the Year” by the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) South Florida Chapter. She has presented at numerous Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) Conferences and was awarded “Best Paper” at the IDEC South Regional Conference for her presentation, Pedagogy 2.0 in Practice: Linking Your Students’ World with the Classroom. She is a past Vice President of Forums for the IIDA Florida Chapter, and she currently serves as the Educational Representative for the South Florida Chapter of NEWH (Network of Executive Women in Hospitality).

While an instructor at FIU, Katie has developed and instructed courses on building systems, project programming, professional practice, interior architecture studios, and sustainable design practices. In her Sustainable Practices for Interior Architecture course, students have completed service-oriented interior design solutions for organizations such as the Actors’ Playhouse and the Lotus House. In 2014, Katie originated the FIU Interior Architecture Department’s LEED Green Associate Exam Achievement Award, which reimburses students who successfully pass the LEED Green Associate Exam after completing her course, Sustainable Practices for Interior Architecture. A successful initiative, the award continues to encourage students to pass this professional exam before graduation.

Vanessa Dihl Zaffari
Adjunct Professor

Vanessa Zaffari, now serving as Adjunct Professor at Florida International University, exemplifies a new type of multidisciplinary Designer professional and Entrepreneur, one who has demonstrated both the will and capability to integrate design creativity and human experience. Equipped with advanced academic qualification as bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Brazil’s prestigious Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul also a Product and Graphic Design graduate from UniRitter and a certification in Healthcare Facilities Planning and Design from the world-renowned eCornell University, She cofounded Smile Company, an experience design company, in 2011, and has since combined her talents in human-centered and evidence-based design with a deep understanding of positive and cognitive psychology to transform this startup into an unquestioned leader in the Experience Design Industries of Southern and Southeastern Regions of Brazil.

With more than 10 years of professional experience acquired mainly in her native country, Brazil, and operating Smile Company for more than seven years, Vanessa Zaffari has distinguished herself as an outstanding Interior and Experience Designer, showing a remarkable ability to balance between science and art, easily identified in extensive portfolio improving Healthcare, Hospitality and Corporate projects through innovative human-centered design solutions.

To exemplify, some of her most acclaimed Healthcare Design projects were produced for the Mãe de Deus Hospital in the Brazilian City of Porto Alegre. One of the two Planetree-certified hospitals in Latin America, this hospital has 380 beds, 2,000 pieces of advanced technology equipment and more than 1,700 accredited physicians. Ms. Zaffari’s projects for the Mãe de Deus Hospital were featured in the Healthcare Design
Magazine, the leading American publication in the field. In addition to that, her work has been covered by several online media platforms including AP Design, Healthcare Facilities Today, Mulheres Seguras, and Saude Best Magazine.

Lisette Boosooboy, Construction Documents in Interior Architecture

Jissette Jimenez, Materials for Interiors