Shifting ideology from foundations to the interior design studio.

Presented by: Kimberly Burke

Shifting ideology from foundations to the interior design studio. This paper will discuss the shift in mentality from foundations which focuses on developing design language, process and craft to a holistic approach to the design of the built environment. Introduction Students entering design school need time to assimilate not only to college life but to a studio mentality. Undergraduates arrive with a myriad of experiences and skills and, in some cases, no background in art or design. Foundations programs serve to give students a common language and a shared understanding of the basic building blocks of design. The principles and elements of design can be applied to any and all design problems. The transition from abstract to concrete design application remains a difficult process. Teaching at three different institutions offering interior design found the transition semester to be a constant challenge. How can we help students move forward to applied interior design while capitalizing on their enthusiasm and creativity. How can research become a fundamental and meaningful part of the design process? Using a “wicked problem” as defined by Rittel and Webber's (1973) gives students a platform to explore and expand their understanding of design. Methodology This paper examines a sophomore level studio that bridges the gap between foundations, and co-op. The first in a series of interior design studios combines research and design through a continual and interrelated series of assignments and activities designed to teach student to apply their knowledge of design to defined space. The studio places emphasis on future workplace trends, workspace productivity, and the various physical, environment, and sensual conditions that may support emerging trends. However, instead of a predetermined program the studio poses the following questions: What are the future workplace trends? How will the workplace of the future look and function? What are the fundamental purposes of work? Projects encourage students to experience the design process with an emphasis on research, programming and planning. Productivity in the workplace can be streamlined or inhibited by an interior architectural designer. Interior designers shape how work is accomplished, and even contribute to human fulfillment that is derived from work. Defining the workplace is a complex endeavor. Work is constantly changing. No single solution can accommodate all aspects work. Also, personal, social, political, economic, and environmental aspects impact the workplace and workplace culture. Therefore, the interior designer is a central player in the creation of work, workplace satisfaction, productivity, and performance. The workplace must holistically address the needs of the business and the employee. Course Objectives • Develop a deeper understanding of emerging trends in the concept of “work” and how it influences all aspects of the design of the work environment. • Integrate research, interior design image, and space programming to design a meaningful and productive workspace of the near future. • Identify the different steps in design thinking and apply it to an actual design problem • Exposure to concepts and components involved with the planning and implementation of interior space. • Develop research skills integrate the information obtained from reference materials (literature reviews), discussions, and survey materials (interviews, observation, and questionnaires). • Introduction of scenario planning and concept development. • Develop visual, written, and oral communication skills. Results The workplace of the future studio serves as a foundation for process and pedagogy in the upper level studios. It provides a strong foundation for interior design knowledge and skills that prepares students for a work experience. Several student projects have been published in national publications in Office of the Future competitions.


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  • “The Future of Work.” Time Magazine, May 14, 2009.,29569,1898024,00.html
  • Help Wanted: The Future of Work in Advanced Economies.” McKinsey Global Institute, March 2012.
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