Chair’s Message2021-08-23T14:58:54+00:00

Chair’s Message

Welcome to the Department of Interior Architecture at Florida International University!

As human beings, we spend over 90% of our time indoors. Interior architecture is hence a central discipline for maintaining human wellness and environmental sustainability. While there is often a common misconception that interior designers focus only on ‘interior surface textures,’ the practice today addresses macro-trends of  health & well-being, technology, sustainability, urbanization, globalization, and resiliency (American Society of Interior Designer Report). Interior designers are hence called on to collaborate with interdisciplinary experts to offer evidence-based solutions in creating  humane environments. As we advance into the future, smart building technologies, internet of things and robotics are becoming integrated into building practices that are ubiquitous part of the building interiors.

The term interior designer is limited to professionals who meet specific educational standards of Council of Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), work experience prior to receiving official registration, and earned passing scores on the National Certification of Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination. CIDA requires our curriculum to distinguish between a student’s “understanding” and “ability.” At FIU Interior Architecture, we strive everyday to achieve this goal.

Located in a multi-cultural dynamic urban city, the FIU interior Architecture program is unique creative environment and a hub of design industry. Professional design critiques and mentors formally participate in our students’ growth.  Our vision is to engage in a trans-disciplinary, culturally rich setting, that enables, creates and imagines a more responsible, sustainable, and humane environment. Housed in the School of architecture (SOA) and within the College of Communication, Architecture+ the Arts (CARTA), students are involved in a culture of collaboration with other disciplines and operate within a design and art continuum.

While we address specific interior typologies of our region, ranging from hospitality, retail, and workplace design, we also engage in focused programs such as Cruise Ship and Super Yacht Design, and Health Care Design. Our degree programs are gateways to preparing graduates who embrace these current and future worlds, and we strive to create responsible and inspiring design leaders.

Our Masters program offers a three track flexibility, leading to a professional degree, that allows students with different educational backgrounds to access the degree. The five-year track requires students participate in two years of interdisciplinary foundational undergraduate coursework followed by three years of graduate professional curriculum. The two-year track is for students with bachelor degrees in architecture or landscape architecture, and the three-year track is offered to students with baccalaureate degrees in other disciplines.

The Interior Architecture Department offers other unique programs such as Cruise Ship and Super Yacht Design  that prepares designers for the specific issues associated with designing cruise ship and yacht interiors. This is the nation’s only formal educational initiative that prepares interior designers to work in the cruise ship and yacht industry. The certificate program involves international workshops with designers from overseas venues.

The Interdisciplinary Healthcare Design Program is a 36 credit hour post-professional degree for students who want to advance the concept of evidence-based design in health and wellness design. This trans-disciplinary curriculum offers graduates specialized studios in healthcare design, internship experience with healthcare design industry and courses offered through other FIU departments such as schools of nursing, public health and medicine.

We offer a variety Study Abroad programs. The University of Genoa, La Spezia program consists of two weeklong workshops, one in Miami, the other UniGe Polo Universitario on the Mediterranean in La Spezia, Italy, and additional travel within Italy and Germany. The Design @ Sea program conducts courses aboard the MSC Seaside through a 8-day cruise followed by a 3 week design project at FIU. The Multi-disciplinary Workshop in Bauhaus is a program in Dessau and Berlin, Germany, modeled on the historic Bauhaus pedagogy. Students work for 4 weeks in Miami on topics related to the history and legacy of the Bauhaus, before visiting the Bauhaus for a week-long residency.

Building, digital and fabrication technologies are means of production and inquiry in interior architectural education and are the source of innovation in the profession.  Students have opportunities to work in the FIU Robotics and Digital Fabrication lab and Integrated Computer and Virtual Environment (I-CAVE) to conduct physical and digital prototypes of spatial configurations of their design spaces. Miami Beach Urban Studios (MBUS) is a valuable resource to our students, which consists of the nation’s largest 3D Printer Maker Space in an arts or design school.

Besides these resources, our program facilitates professional readiness. Internship experiences are available to third, fourth and fifth year students. The FIU Interior Architecture Annual Student Day is an event, which brings together students, educators, design professionals, and manufacturers’ representatives to expose students to different career paths within the industry, and to introduce them to cutting-edge ideas and hands-on workshops to make students rethink the way they design.

Students undertake field trips to Boston and Atlanta, touring interior design firms, a variety of building types, adaptive re-use precedents and observing best practices. Students also participate in critical events such as Neocon in Chicago, which serves as the commercial design industry’s launch pad for innovation—offering ideas and introductions that shape the built environment today and into the future. Taking up an active role in organizations such as International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Student Chapters, our students pave the way to well networked future designers.

Our Interior Architecture Department’s Advisory Board is a visionary organization composed of volunteers from the design professional community who add value to our mission.  The board works to form a bridge between the professional community and FIU’s academic world because they believe quality education is essential to developing excellent interior architects and life-long learners capable of creating interiors that can, and do, transform people’s lives.

To support our students, the Festival of the Trees, an annual fundraising event coordinated by our department and its advisory board, bringing together South Florida’s architecture and design community. In its 32nd year of running, this annual holiday extravaganza, showcases talents of design firms to raise funds to benefit Florida International University’s Interior Architecture Department and its talented students and demonstrate their commitment to quality interior architecture education.

In summary, we operate in a highly dynamic environment where creativity flourishes and gives birth to next generation of design leaders. We would welcome you to be a part of it.

Newton D’souza | Chair and Associate Professor
Department of Interior Architecture, PCA 279A
College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts | 305-348-1875

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