by Helena Moussatche, Ph.D., University of Florida
This course has two primary objectives: 1) to familiarize students with
a variety of materials related to interior design; and 2) to establish
the foundations for a global perspective of design and an environmentally
conscientious materials selection process. The specific goals that relate
to sustainable/green design are:
establish the concept of interior materiality as an integral part
of the design solutions, and a life-impacting result of the designers
develop awareness of:
role and responsibilities of interior designers in ensuring
global environmental sustainability.
impact of materials on peoples health, and on global sustainability.
differences in availability, performance, and cost effectiveness
that should influence the selection of materials.
impact of construction systems on the performance of interior
develop understanding of:
lifecycle of interior materials and its impact on sustainability.
importance of identifying the sources of materials and products
and their ability to renew.
physical attributes, characteristics, and properties of different
types of materials.
rigorous process to define criteria for creative and conscientiously
and contemporary fabrication and installation methods of materials
and products as they minimize or maximize embedded energy, raw
material consumption, and generation of waste.
for testing and evaluating performance, maintenance, cost, durability,
health, and life safety of material applications.
provide opportunities for students to:
environmental stewardship by selecting materials and justifying
aesthetic, technical, and environmental implications of material
with industry representatives to ask questions about their commitment
of course in which project or unit is used:
Interior Materials is part of a series of building technology courses.
This is a lecture course with a studio component where students learn
how to appropriately use and evaluate materials and products by exploring
contemporary issues, such as sustainability and indoor air quality,
concerning human environments.
The teaching approach of this course encourages critical thinking and
cooperative learning, as well as independence and self-teaching. Students
are expected to demonstrate their ability to recall facts, understand
ideas, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information. The instructor,
visiting lecturers, and manufacturers representatives present
lectures on specific topics and/or materials providing a framework for
students gathering of additional information to develop assignments.
In every lecture, information on a specific type of material relates
it to sustainability issues.
Class discussions are based on assigned readings and information provided
by the instructor and/or visiting lecturers. Field trips and projects
complement the information presented in the lectures. Additional information
is gathered, explored, evaluated, organized, and presented by students,
individually and in teams. Throughout the semester, students are encouraged
to practice oral, reading and writing skills, drafting, rendering and
imaging in a variety of assignments.
This course is offered in the spring semester of the second year
and requires three Architectural Design studios, History of Interiors
I & II, Graphic Communications, and Theory of Interior Design as
pre-requisites for enrollment.
covered in lecture or discussion:
This course covers aesthetics, functional, and environmental aspects
of interior building materials focusing on characteristics, properties,
and uses of a variety of interiors building materials. For each material
covered, students are presented with information on all phases of a
materials life cycle - production, use and disposal relating
it to environmental sustainability concerns. In a lecture on glass,
for instance, students learn about the raw materials used to produce
glass, the natural resources used for generating the raw materials,
the current availability of these raw materials, and their renewable
or non-renewable character. They also learn about the process of manufacturing
glass and examine energy consumption, the possible impact on workers
health and safety, and the reuse or disposal of sub-products. Students
are exposed to aesthetic applications of glass in interiors as they
learn about a materials physical properties, functional aspects
as well as installation and maintenance requirements, indoor air quality
impact, disposal procedures and recycling ability.
Contents emphasize the necessary partnership of interior designers with
the industry, architects, installers, clients and inhabitants of the
built environment to ensure that sustainability is incorporated in the
decision making process. In addition, students gather information on
specific products they select to use on projects including natural resources,
manufacturing process, impacts on energy consumption and waste generation,
degradation, durability, etc. Students use this information to justify
the criteria they used to choose materials for their final project.
The specific content addressed in the lectures are:
first lecture of the semester introduces the concepts of Global
Sustainability, Life Cycle Costing, Indoor Environmental Quality,
and Benign Design. This lecture emphasizes peoples health
and safety issues related to sustainable materials [see
Interior Materials - Lecture Outline].
following four lectures are each focused on materials general
properties and functionality - structural and non-structural; hard,
resilient and soft characteristics - and specific systems of materials:
floor, wall and ceiling systems.
remaining lectures are dedicated to examining specific materials
and there is always reference to how these materials relate to sustainable
design. The materials are grouped as; conventional and alternative
natural materials such as Wood and Bamboo; Stones and Terazzo; Concrete
and Brick; Gypsum, Plaster, and Stucco; Metals; Linoleum and Vinyl;
Fibers and Fabrics; Wall coverings and Carpet (Nylon, Wool, Sea
grass and Sisal); Glass and Plastics; Ceramic Tiles and Terracotta;
outline of all lectures on specific materials consists of: general
information on materials history, characteristics and properties,
chemical composition, natural resources used, manufacturing process
and energy consumption, testing methods, commercial dimensions and
waste production, colors and shapes, installation methods, impact
on workers health, research findings that relate to sustainability
issues, conflicting evaluations, and environmental and safety concerns.
All this information is presented using images of interior applications
to illustrate the topics covered.
of project or unit:
The course takes one semester or 16 weeks. Students attend three
hours of classes per week, distributed in two days. Twice a month the
one-hour lecture time is used for guidance on projects or for evaluation.
Out of class time required to complete the coursework varies from 2
to 6 hours per week depending on the type or phase of the assignment.
The course content is organized as two major units Building Materials
and Finishing Materials - divided into sub-units addressing a specific
group of materials, e.g. metals, textiles, etc. Each sub-unit takes
one to two weeks to complete. Each major unit contains a project and
a test. Preparation for the tests requires an average of three hours
to prepare and four hours of studying from the students part.
The project developed for Building Materials consists of
a report on visits to construction sites. Students have 6-7 weeks to
complete it. Field trips to construction sites require about an hour
of preparation and the time spent in the site depends on the location
but in most cases it takes one or two mornings or afternoons (3 to 4
hours). Preparation of the report requires 6-8 hours of teamwork.
The project on Finishing Materials is developed in several
phases throughout the semester with instructors assistance. It
consists of materials selection to respond to a specific design situation.
This project requires one hour of instruction every two weeks, two hours
a week of out-of-class students work throughout the semester and
8 hours a week of out-of-class teamwork in the three weeks before completion.
or activities assigned:
Two tests and two projects are planned for each semester [see
Tests Samples]. Project 1 is a team project and Project 2 is an
The two tests cover the contents of the class notes for lectures presented
by the instructor and visiting lecturers. Tests consist of multiple-choice
questions administered via computer and taken in the computer lab. Class
notes are posted in the class WebCT site. The first test occurs at mid-term
and the second test occurs at the end of the semester. A week before
the scheduled test, a study guide is posted in the WebCT class site.
Project 1 consists of a report on building materials and components
identified in construction sites [see
Class Assignments - Project 1].
Project 2 consists of materials selection to respond to a specific design
situation. [see Class Assignments
- Project 2]. The final selection is presented in two forms:
and materials boards that demonstrate the students understanding
of materiality through ambience, proportions, and spatial relationships
as well as visual communication skills.
booklet where students organize the criteria used for material selection
as well as information and evaluations of different products and
materials selected for the project.
is part of the learning experience of this course. Students visit construction
sites and suppliers. Observation, questioning, and photography of building
materials, techniques, and construction process complements the framework
of information and vocabulary built in the classroom. Teams are expected
to elaborate reports that integrate pictures and drawings with the information
gathered by using different media to express their ideas.
Garrison, E. M. S. (Ed.) (2002) The graphic standards guide to
architectural finishes: Using Masterspec ® to evaluate, select
and specify materials. New Jersey: John Wiley.
E. (2001) Materials: a directory for home design. Glouchester, MA:
Access floors: A step up for commercial buildings. (1998, January).
Environmental Building News; 7 (1), pp. 1, 8-14.
materials: What makes a product green? (2000, Janaury). Environmental
Building News, 9 (1). pp 1, 10 14.
the right stuff: A guide to green building materials retailers.
(2001, April). Environmental Building News, 10 (4). pp. 1, 10-14.
finish systems: Judging a building by its inside cover. (2000, November).
Environmental Building News, 9 (11). pp. 1, 9-13.
The all-natural flooring alternative. (1998, October). Environmental
Building News, 8 (9). pp. 1, 8-13.
the room green. (1999, February). Environmental Building News, 8 (2).
pp. 1, 11-19.
engineered wood: Is it green? (1999, November). Environmental Building
News, 8 (11). pp. 1, 12-17.
for materials is never over at George Beylerians resource center.
(2001, March). Architectural Record, pp. 181-182.
are strongly recommended to subscribe to one of the professional journals
such as Interiors and Sources, Interior Design, Interiors, or Environmental
Building News. These journals have information cards available for
acquiring brochures and product data that can help the beginning of
a resource file/library. Special articles are also found in these
periodicals and they serve well in supplementing information of a
with Internet access, Auto CAD, 3D-Viz, Photoshop, Power Point capabilities.
resource center with samples of a variety of materials.
and drafting tools and materials.
to participate in field trips.
Materials and methods for building construction. (Date
n/a) Los Osos, CA: San Luis Video.
art of stone design. (1996) West Milford, NJ: The Stone
Billiberica house (1999) PBS, This Old House Episode 1916.
(has an excellent segment on the production of linoleum).
areas are measured and evaluated by the instructor:
of concepts and content information.
of critical thinking and creativity at the undergraduate level.
use of graphic and verbal communication skills.
and participation in class.
in team assignments.
are graded based on form and content: relevance of the information
gathered, organization of the material, visual and/or verbal communication,
demonstration of critical thinking and creativity.
and material selection of Project 2 is presented to the instructor
at different levels of completion for periodical evaluation and feedback.
The final submittal is at the end of the semester.
Project 1 (team report)..........................................20%
Project 2 (Materials portfolio and boards)............40%
of student outcomes:
[see Interior Materials -Work Exemplars]
or bibliography used for project:
AIA (1998) Environmental resource guide.
Ballast, D. K. (2002) Interior design reference manual: A guide to the
NCIDQ exam. Belmont, CA: Professional Publications.
Barnett, D. L. & Browning, W. D. (1995) A primer on sustainable
building. Snowmass, CO: Rocky Mountain Institute.
Berleant, A. (1992) The aesthetics of the environment. Philadelphia,
PA: Temple University Press.
Bower, John. (1993) Healthy house building: A design & construction
guide. Unionville, IN: The Healthy House Institute.
Brown, D. E. et al. (2000) Sustainable architecture white papers. New
York, NY: Earth Pledge Foundation.
Chiras, Daniel. (2000) The natural house: A complete guide to healthy,
energy-efficient, environmental homes. Vermont: Chelsea Green.
Cowan, Stuart & Van Der Ryn, Sim. (1996) Ecological design. Washington,
DC: Island Press
Crowter, Richard. L.(1992) Ecologic architecture. Stoneham, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.
CMHC (1997) Building materials for the environmentally sensitive. Canada:
Drummond, W. et al. (1999) Life cycle costing guidelines for materials
and building systems for Floridas public educational facilities.
Vol. 1 & 2. Tallahassee, FL: Florida Department of Education.
Environmental Building News
Garrison, E. M. S. (Ed.) (2002) The graphic standards guide to architectural
finishes: using Masterspec ® to evaluate, select and specify materials.
New Jersey: John Wiley.
Hall, W. (1993) Contract interior finishes: A handbook of materials,
products and applications. New York, NY: Watson-Guptill.
Harmon, S. K. (2001) The codes guidebook for interiors. New York, NY:
Harte, J. et al. (1991) Toxics a to z: A guide to everyday pollution
hazards. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
IEQ Strategies: materials specification guide. Arlington, MA: Cutter
Kibert, C. J. (1999) Reshaping the built environment. Washington, D.C.:
Pearson, David. (1989) The natural house book. New York: Gaia Books.
Pearson, David. (1996) The natural house catalog. New York: Gaia Books.
Pilatowicz, G. (1995) Eco-interiors. New York, NY: John Wiley &
Sons. Part I: Environmental Issues.
Pile, J. (1995) Interior design. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Riggs, J. Rosemary (2003) Materials and components of interior architecture.
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Rosen, H. J. & Heineman, T. (1996) Architectural materials for construction.
New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Rousseau, David & Wasley, James. (1997) Healthy by design. Vancouver:
Harley & Marks.
Rousseau, D.; Rea, W.J. & Enwright, J. (1988) Your home, your health,
& well-being. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press.
Sampson, Carol A. (1991) Techniques for estimating materials, costs
and time for interior designers. New York, NY: Whitney, 1991.
Wilhide, E. (2001) Materials: A directory for home design. Glouchester,
Yeager & Teter-Justice (2000) Textiles for residential and commercial
interiors. NY: Fairchild.