At the intersection of architecture, conservation and design, Interior Architecture takes an innovative approach to the reuse and transformation of existing buildings. Advanced design studios focused on adaptive reuse are central to both the undergraduate and graduate programs. And unlike the fields of interior design and decoration, Interior Architecture looks less at the application of surface materials than at understanding the design of buildings from inside out.
- 4-year undergraduate program
- MA / MDes
- 1-year+ / 2-year+ graduate programs
In the studio
In the studio, students use digital and manual means to research and recommend design alterations and renovations that give existing buildings new life. Studios focus on a wide range of approaches, from domestic to retail design, theater/production design to issues of preservation and conservation.
Madison Kim | Brown|RISD dual degree student
“The concept of adaptive use—of taking preexisting buildings and completely transforming their interior—is such a wonderful one. What I love about Interior Architecture at RISD is the amount of pride everyone has in what we do—in saving buildings. Whereas architecture gives birth to buildings, interior architecture gives them life.”
Liliane Wong | department head
“Students in our department are engaged in a rich and expansive discipline focusing on the reuse and transformation of existing structures. Through a wide breadth of design in the built environment, this exploration includes interior interventions, architectural addition and refurbishment, installation, exhibit design, urban transformations and community engagement – using adaptive reuse as the primary tool.”
Interior Architecture alumni go on to find creatively satisfying work around the world. Some launch their own practices designing residential and/or commercial interiors, while others join larger established firms or smaller studios. In addition to practicing as interior architects, alumni also go on to make a mark professionally as sustainability specialists, set designers, educators, home furnishings designers and more.
Alumni at work
Throughout her career, Andrea Valentini has focused on incorporating unconventional industrial materials into inventive designs for furniture, lighting, handbags, accessories, wearable art and interior applications. Her critically acclaimed Coosh egg chair has been recognized by the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and her work has been included in the museum's popular triennial exhibitions. As she continues to develop innovative new products and design sensual interiors, Andrea remains committed to creating art for everyday living.
When Alina Vadera first graduated, she thought about moving to New York — as most designers do. But she quickly reconsidered when she realized that given the economic downturn in the US, her home country was where things were really happening in the world of architecture: “Construction is booming in India,” she says. So in 2011 Vadera returned to her home city of Delhi, where she now freelances and handles projects for the award-winning firm Studio Lotus. She recently completed a new retail space for Indian fashion designer Gurav Gupta that captures the duality of his Indian and Western collections.
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