New Jersey Institute of Technology Makes Multi-Dimensional Interior Designers
Interior design is a professionally accredited discipline that combines artistic sensibilities, technical expertise, and a keen understanding of human behavior. Practitioners in the field are as well-versed in sustainable building practices and user accessibility as they are with space planning, material detailing, and product selection. Comprehensive and technology-enabled design education at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) prepares interior design students to enter the profession at the forefront of their field.
NJIT interior design students are exposed to and expected to work in a variety of media and incorporate digital technologies to improve their design skills and processes. All students are encouraged to use virtual reality to dynamically design and visualize their projects, and to create 3D walkthrough experiences that can be accessed using QR codes.
“The school taught us a lot of technical skills, which in my opinion is outstanding as compared to the other schools. We can go to a design firm as interns and use Revit and Enscape right away without any additional training, and that makes us (NJIT students) very competitive. We also had to produce a lot of work each semester in our design studio, usually 3 projects, but we learned how to manage time. Time management is very important in our field, we must meet our deadlines. Every year we learned a lot of new things that prepared us for the field,” Okhyun Kim Des Lauriers ’22 said.
At New Jersey Institute of Technology, the B.A. Interior Design program is integrated with Industrial Design and Digital Design programs. The three programs are housed within the School of Art + Design, and together with the New Jersey School of Architecture form the Hillier College of Architecture and Design. The curriculum offers students an opportunity to interact and form collaborative relationships with their peers and learn from a faculty that participates in all phases of the design and construction process: interior designers, architects, engineers, and product/industrial designers.
NJIT’s Interior Design program is a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree program, fully accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). It is the highest-ranked design program among the polytechnic R1 (very high research activity) universities in the New York City metro area. Additionally, the School of Art + Design was the first school to organize and submit its interior design program digitally for accreditation.
“The School’s offerings are set in a bipolar context: urban, physical, and very real on the one hand; virtual, digital, and experimental on the other. Within this spectrum students prepare to design our future,” said Glenn Goldman, Director Emeritus and Professor, School of Art + Design.
The first-year curriculum is shared with other Art + Design programs, which provides a broad design foundation and instills a strong sense of community among the Interior Design students and their peers in other design disciplines.
“The interior design program is extremely tight when all of the students are here. There’s an amazing esprit de corps … I don’t think there’s a program on campus that’s as close-knit,” said David Brothers, Interior Design Coordinator and Senior University Lecturer, and one of the most-admired educators in his field.
In addition to six semesters of design studios, the Interior Design students take a variety of courses that prepare them for professional practice, including Building and Interior Systems, History of Furniture, Building Information Modeling, Contract Documents, and Human Factors/Ergonomics. An array of design electives is available in art or architectural history, traditional media art classes, and advanced classes in digital media.
A unique component of the curriculum is the students’ participation in a collaborative design studio in the fall term of their senior year. It prepares them to work with individuals from different disciplines toward a common design solution. This is why more than 90 percent of all NJIT interior design graduates are either working in a field related to their study or are in a graduate program within six months of graduation.
“We collaborated with students from different majors on a studio project, and it was a great experience. The outcome was really good! In our profession we will have to work with people from different fields and create together, so the collaborative studio was a great experience,” Des Lauriers said.
In addition to collaborating with their peers at the Hillier College, interior design students can take cross-disciplinary courses. An example is a course offered by NJIT’s Martin Tuchman School of Management, Hillier College of Architecture and Design and Newark College of Engineering that tasked the students to develop a business plan for a coffee shop that could be created in a shipping container. You can read more about the course here.
During the height of the Covid pandemic the interior design students partnered with The Tuchman Foundation and University Hospital in Newark to develop a mobile medical care unit (M2CU). The M2CU was designed from a shipping container and can be readily deployed to areas of surging disease outbreaks.
The quality of work of NJIT’s Design students is demonstrated in their presentations and exhibits at major conferences such as NeoCON and the Faculty Submitted Student Work exhibit at SIGGRAPH. Design competitions are another opportunity to put skills into practice and NJIT’s interior design students have received awards and recognitions from the London International Creative Competition, International Interior Design Association (IIDA), Network of Executive Women in Hospitality (NEWH), and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).
It is therefore no surprise that the Interior Design program at NJIT continues to be considered among the best degree programs in Design in the country.
To watch the closing trailer for Ninefox Gambit, from the Collaborative Design Studio - Fall 2021 created by Okhyun des Lauriers (Interior Design), Lemmuel Escalona (Industrial Design), and Allison Wong (Digital Design), please click here.