Creating an Interior Space: A Design Studio Integrating Parametric Modeling with Human-Interactive Design

Presented by: Saleh Kalantari

Context and Relevance This paper examines how parametric modeling techniques can be integrated into in the conceptual stage of the interior-design process, and offers some pedagogical suggestions for cultivating students’ proficiency in parametric design. Previous studies have shown that parametric modeling can have substantial benefits when used as a drawing-generator for digital fabrication. It can enable the designer to experiment with numerous new design and tooling possibilities (Moussavi, 2009; Jabi, 2013). The use of parametric modeling to inform these processes has been described as initiating a “psychological change” in designers’ approach to form creation (Tang & Anderson, 2010), and it is often seen as leading to a more adaptive and responsive design outlook (Achten & Kopriva, 2010). In this paper, interior architectural spaces are considered as a site for linking parametric modeling techniques with human-interactive design, and for teaching students basic parametric techniques in interior design studios. Problem The interior design studio discussed in this paper integrates parametric approaches with human-interaction design. This project is intended for a third-year interior design studio with a foundation of hand-drafting, basic CAD skills, and practical application of the elements and principles of design. Students in the studio work in digital and physical environments to develop group projects that improve an interior design by simultaneously interconnecting and coordinating disparate design elements (Woodbury, 2010). The design problem for the studio is to use parametric modeling techniques to create a human-interactive design solution for a pavilion intended to be installed in an interior public space. Method The project is executed in four parts: inspiration through nature, parametric modeling theory, human interaction, and presentation. First, students examine mathematical analyses of naturally occurring geometric designs, which helps them understand the basic concepts of parametric theory. Rooted in their inspiration from nature, students then sketch out a basic pavilion design using a coordinated parametric formula. The students can explore this parametric design either though physical modeling or with the aid of 3D-modeling software such as Rhino/Grasshopper. Once the basic form is developed, students then gather data about how people might interact in such an indoor public space using observation research methods. The results of this data-gathering exercise are folded into the parametric design, leading to a deeper human-interactive design solution. Ultimately, the students are asked to develop a digital model of their design solution (to demonstrate their understanding of virtual design systems) as well as a physical prototype (to demonstrate their understanding of detailing, connections, structural stability, and contextual compliance). Outcomes The most significant outcome of this project is to demonstrate that parametric modeling is not only useful for form-generation and fabrication, but can also be a valuable tool to inform human-interactive interior design solutions. The project also offers practical suggestions for how students who have little experience with parametric approaches can learn to explore them using logic, hand-renderings, and physical modeling, initially without the aid of 3D-modeling software. The project supports a process that builds students’ 3D-modeling skills, graphic design and presentation skills, and a broad conceptual understanding of form-generation in interior design.


  • Achten, H and Kopriva, M 2010, ‘A design methodological framework for interactive architecture’, Proceedings of the 28th eCAADe Conference ETH Zurich (Switzerland) 15-18 September 2010, pp.169-177
  • Jabi, W. (2013). Parametric design for architecture. International Journal of Architectural Computing, 11(4), 465–468.
  • Moussavi, F. (2009). The function of form. Barcelona: Actar.
  • Tang, M. & Anderson, J. (2011). Form follows parameters. Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia Newcastle, Australia 2011, pp. 91–100.
  • Woodbury, R. (2010). Elements of parametric design. Rowledge: Abingdon.
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