BFA | 4-year program

Interior Studies majors - as the undergraduate program is known - choose among three specializations or "pathways" through advanced design studios, focusing on design for the theater, exhibition design or retail design. Throughout the program, professors offer hands-on opportunities to learn about practices in the construction industry and beyond, helping each individual to grow creatively and become a socially and environmentally responsible professional.

Learning outcomes

Graduates are prepared to:

  • evaluate their own individual talents, interests and aptitudes to determine a suitable career path
  • navigate a collaborative work environment in order to investigate aspects of interior interventions through conceptual thinking and critical making
  • develop design strategies that recognize the importance of social and environmental responsibility
  • understand design principles and the tools for implementing them to develop meaningful and coherent design propositions
  • recognize the importance of context in the transformation of space and acknowledge its implications in the formulation of design concepts
  • articulate design concepts and implement interventions based on the transformation of existing structures
  • communicate design ideas through drawings, projections and both physical and digital models
  • engage with interior interventions in the field and apply this knowledge in design projects of varying scales


Inspiring community

Approximately 55 undergraduates and 45 graduate students from around the world work together in the Angelo Donghia Studio for Interior Architecture on the fifth floor of RISD's Center for Integrative Technologies. Students come from around the world and work with more than 25 full- and part-time faculty members who practice internationally and were educated in Germany, Portugal, Canada, the US and elsewhere. This lends the department a very global, cosmopolitan feel and allows for especially fruitful collaborations and critical exchange.

Learning environment

Interior Architecture professors share a commitment to sustainability and a belief that their profession has a role to play in bettering the lives of people from all economic backgrounds. Having long volunteered at soup kitchens and homeless shelters, Professor Liliane Wong has incorporated her interest in affordable housing into studios on sustainable modular solutions and on designing and building site-specific furnishings for transitional shelters in Boston. Why focus on projects like these instead of more typical private residences? "We want students to see that design has a wide spectrum and can be used as a tool in a larger human context," she says - "that it's not just for people who can afford to pay for it."

Curriculum

In the first year of the program, which begins after students complete RISD's required year of Foundation Studies, sophomores take introductory courses that cover the ideas and vocabulary of Interior Architecture and provide the basis for subsequent studios. Juniors further explore the field through advanced studios, supplemented by a broad range of technical, theoretical and historical courses.

Foundation Year

Fall
Drawing I
Design I
Spatial Dynamics I
First-year Literature Seminar
History of Art + Visual Culture Seminar
Wintersession
Non-major studio elective
Spring
Drawing II
Design II
Spatial Dynamics II
Topics in History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences

Sophomore

Fall
Introduction to Interior Studies
Drawing for Interior Architecture
Building Materials Exploration
History of Interior Architecture I
Wintersession
Open elective
Spring
Introduction to Interior Studies II
Introduction to Computing for Interior Architecture
History of Interior Architecture II
Open elective

Junior

Fall
Introduction to Interior Studies III
Human Factors
Building Structures and Systems for Adaptive Reuse
Open elective
Wintersession
Open elective
Spring
Spatial Perception: Light and Color
Advanced Design Studio
Open electives

Senior

Fall
Advanced Design Studio
Scheme Detailing
Open elective
Wintersession
Open elective
Spring
Advanced Design Studio
Final Studio Project Seminar
Open electives

Degree project

The final year in Interior Architecture allows for continued development through advanced work, including a course in human factors. Seniors complete a Degree Project meant to synthesize key concepts learned and demonstrate expertise in a chosen area of specialization.

Application requirements

  1. Application form

    You'll begin and manage your RISD application process by completing the application form provided on the Common Application website. There is a non-refundable application fee of $60 to use this service; eligible students may apply for a fee waiver.

  2. Academic transcripts

    Applicants must provide official transcripts of all secondary academic work through the most recent grading period. Your counselor may submit your transcript through the Common Application, Parchment, email or mail. If your academic credentials are not written in English, they must be translated into English by an approved translator prior to submission.

  3. Tests

    SAT or ACT

    All applicants are required to submit the results of the SAT or the ACT (American College Testing program). Subject tests are not required.

    RISD’s CEEB code number for the SAT is 003726; for ACT the code number is 003812.

    TOEFL or IELTS

    All applicants who speak English as a second language, including US citizens, must submit results from either TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Since proficiency in English is a prerequisite for acceptance, applicants must attain an acceptable score on either test; RISD requires a minimum result of 93 on the TOEFL or 6.5 on IELTS. Plan to take the TOEFL or IELTS well in advance of the application deadline since it may take six weeks for your scores to be sent to RISD.

  4. Portfolio

    Your portfolio should show a selection of 12–20 examples of your best recent artwork. We suggest that the work reflect the full range of your ideas, interests, experience and abilities in the arts to date. Work presented can be in any medium (including film or video), in finished or sketch form, and the result of an assigned project or a self-directed exploration. We strongly recommend that you include a few pages from your journal or sketchbook to indicate your process of research, thinking and investigation.

    Do not submit a multi-page PDF with individual and unrelated works on each page since this is likely to exceed the limit of 20 examples we’ve requested. The only exception to this is a portfolio piece like a graphic novel where multiple pages are part of a single, cohesive work.

    Portfolios must be submitted through SlideRoom, an online portfolio service (which requires an additional $10 fee).

  5. The Assignment

    Choose one of the following three prompt options and create two responses using any medium you prefer (no restrictions).

    We consider this assignment to be as much about process as presentation and encourage you to consider your submissions as exercises in experimental thinking and risk-taking more than as final presentations or examples of technical proficiency. No particular outcome is valued more than another, so feel free to explore the full range of possible expression in these works.

    Each of these prompts has more than one meaning or usage and you might want to begin by referring to dictionary sources to expand your initial reaction about a direction.

    • plastic
    • collect
    • threshold

    Please upload your responses in the specific section of SlideRoom dedicated to these works. (Do not include them in the Portfolio area of SlideRoom.)

    If the file size of either of your responses exceeds 10 MB, please embed a link to direct us to another viewing platform such as a personal website, Vimeo, etc.

    In the SlideRoom submission section for your two works, we also ask you to reflect on the two responses that you are sharing and provide a brief response to this question: What are the other directions or ideas you would explore as a next step?

  6. Writing sample

    Submit one example of your writing, up to 650 words. Remember, this is the limit, not a goal. Use the full limit if you need it, but don’t feel obligated to do so.

    You will find the writing prompts in the Personal Essay section of the Common Application.

    While we encourage you to adhere to the rules of good writing, we look for applicants who are not afraid to take risks in their expression. Please don't hesitate to use a writing style or method that may be outside the mainstream as you express a distinctive personal position in the samples you submit.

  7. Letter(s) of recommendation

    Although not required, these letters can be very helpful to your application. One letter is suggested, although as many as three may be submitted. Recommendation letters should be written by teachers or other professionals who have firsthand knowledge of your art or academic achievements and can comment on your potential as a student.

    Please use the Common Application to invite your recommendation writers to submit letters through that service. Letters may also be sent directly to our mailing address (see below) or emailed to admissions@risd.edu.

Departments

Apparel Design Architecture Ceramics Digital + Media Experimental and Foundation Studies Film / Animation / Video Furniture Design Glass Graduate Studies Graphic Design History of Art + Visual Culture History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences Illustration Industrial Design Interior Architecture Jewelry + Metalsmithing Landscape Architecture Literary Arts + Studies Painting Photography Printmaking Sculpture Teaching + Learning in Art + Design Textiles