Trends in ID Capstone Design Project

Presented by: Suchismita Bhattacharjee, Thelma Lazo-Flores, Elizabeth Pober

Interior Design (ID) gained wide acceptance as a profession over the last forty years, but has been in existence for more than a century. The origin of ID can be traced back to the art of decorating (Martin & Guerin, 2006). Since then the profession has evolved into a specialized area of expertise that requires several years of education and experience. In spite of this progress, there are still several significant issues that need to be resolved, especially increasing the ‘universal acceptance from allied professions of the value of Interior Design, and recognition of Interior Design as a discipline within the academia’ (Guerin & Thompson, 2004). Today there are approximately 167 schools in US offering Bachelor degree in Interior Design that are recognized by Council of Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). Students graduating with a Bachelor of Interior Design have several options, where they can either join the workforce as an Interior Designer or pursue higher education. As part of their undergraduate education, students select a capstone project which demonstrates their knowledge gained during the course of four or five years in the degree program. Senior year projects across all discipline provide undergraduate students the opportunity to solve real-world design projects, and have been highly regarded as important learning activity. There can be several guiding factors behind the reason for the choice of a capstone project by an ID senior student. Their choices can be based on their future career pathways, their sensitiveness to social issues, directed by faculty, grants or competition projects, or personal design interest. The goal of this study is to understand the patterns in the senior year projects across different CIDA accredited schools. A survey of senior year projects of students across few schools was performed to identify the pattern of the design project and analyze the reason behind the students’ choice for the projects. Survey of the CIDA accredited programs was performed to identify the type of senior year design projects. The overall process for the study involved the following steps: (1) selecting sample CIDA accredited interior design programs; (2) performing cognitive interviews of Interior Design program faculty teaching capstone design studios or final year design studios; (3) collecting data to examine the type of projects designed by the final year Interior Design student and (6) analyzing the collected data. Results indicate majority of senior year design projects focusing in the area of hospitality. Evidence based design has been utilized as a preferred approach by the students in the past few years. The study further identified the health related, safety, comfort, and environmental parameters addressed in the senior year projects. Moreover, sustainability had been identified as a common aspect addressed in these projects. Future study will investigate the overlap of the project types the new graduates handle in their profession and the ones taken up during senior year design projects.


  • Martin, Caren S., and Denise A. Guerin. "Using research to inform design solutions." Journal of Facilities Management 4, no. 3 (2006): 167-180.
  • Guerin, Denise A., and Jo Ann Asher Thompson. "Interior design education in the 21st century: An educational transformation." Journal of Interior Design 30, no. 2 (2004): 1-12.
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