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Interior Architecture: research and design

Two-year master in English, starts in September

Welcome to the Master Interior Architecture: Research + Design (MIARD*) at the Piet Zwart Institute, a postgraduate programme that is part of the Willem de Kooning Academy at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences.

Our distinguished international programme offers students a unique Master level design-research education with a critical and experimental focus on the complex and developing field of Interior Architecture.

Interior Architects today are faced with a changing world of new realties, technologies, socio-political, environmental and economic challenges; consequently the practice of the designer needs to expand, react and determine future roles. For this reason, we question the conventions of Interior Architecture across disciplinary edges in order to create new perspectives in the production of space. Design as research is viewed as multidimensional, circulating along numerous pathways and scales, from the local to the global, from objects to architecture and beyond. Students are expected to be independent and forward thinking. Our multidisciplinary and proactive approach to design education creates a sense of openness, possibility and intellectual rigor to nurture innovative 21st century designers.

The international student community at MIARD works closely with a notable staff of architects, interior architects, designers, artists, researchers and experts from a variety of disciplines. Our staff provides a diverse and stimulating educational culture for students to advance their knowledge, professional network and career opportunities.  We also maintain an active public programme including events that showcase our community, projects and publications. Public talks, symposiums, and conversations are complimented by national and international exhibitions and excursions. Every year, prominent practitioners from diverse disciplines are invited to talk and work with our students and staff.

A unique quality of our programme is the concept of making public. We exhibit and promote student work, and participate in professional events and external collaborations with renowned institutions. Recent work by students and alumni has been exhibited at Salone del Mobile Milano, Het Nieuwe Instituut, TENTLondon among others.  Our projects have earned international press in publications such as Domus, Dezeen, Archinect, and Designboom.  MIARD was recently published as a ‘leading international Master programme’ in Frame Magazine book Masterclass: Interior Design, Guide to the World’s Leading Graduate Schools.

Students work in state-of-the-art facilities and are provided spacious design studios to work on their projects. In our building, students have access to production ‘stations’ that are equipped with analogue and digital technologies with highly-skilled technicians available to help realize their work. Finally, we are located in the center of Rotterdam, a post-industrial, culturally diverse global and creative city renowned for architecture, design and the arts. And as a contemporary programme, we operate from the point of view that design education today must be adaptable to a variety of external forces to remain relevant and forward thinking.

The programme was formerly titled: Master Interior Architecture + Retail Design [MIARD]

Facts and figures

The programme at a glance

Programme structure

A view of the study programme

Programme description

MIARD is a nationally accredited two-year programme with a focus on design-research, experimentation and critical strategies within the field of Interior Architecture and alternative spatial practices. The programme is multidisciplinary.

Students actively engage in course modules that develop their skills, resources, and knowledge towards self-directed research. Curriculum modules are integrated and planned to support and critically engage with the subject and student interests, synthesizing research, innovation and professional expertise.


The curriculum is based on a multidisciplinary concept; following three module threads that provide the framework:

  1. Design Projects
  2. Critical Strategies
  3. Multiple Media

Over the course of the two-year programme (120 ects) there are four Design Projects structured over six trimesters. In the last two trimesters, students work independently on their Graduation Project and Thesis. All classes are taught in English.

Design Projects

Design-research projects are the core of the curriculum. The intensive project-based design studios explore contemporary issues and ideas that shape our culture, society, and the built and natural environment.  Themes circulate along multiple agencies, perspectives and scales, from the local to the global, from objects to architecture and beyond.

Complementary events, lectures, excursions and guest visits run parallel with the project to provide students with historical, theoretical, technical and professional knowledge, skills and expertise. Craft and material workshops are integral to the development of the design project.  Contingent on the subject, students explore tectonic principles and logics, technology and fabrication methods, materiality, and environmental/social performance as it relates to the students’ research agenda.

Critical Strategies

Theory & History

The seminar explores critical and analytical practices across disciplines within a variety of media. It is intended to develop a student’s maturity in forming ideas and creative vision, building opinions, and a critical approach to the subject matter. Attention is paid to the way interiors and the larger built and spatial environments have historically been shaped by the conceptual intentions of the designer and the need of the user, in addition to other social, economic, political, cultural, and technological factors. Relevant media is assembled in the seminars to offer a theoretical and critical backdrop to the design activity. Pedagogical and learning activities vary to provide students with a contemporary, exciting and diverse platform for inquiry.

Research Methods

The research module focuses on developing a student’s study and writing methodology within their own design process. Analytical and critical skills are explored through different types of research methods, structuring concepts, literature search, and other forms. The priority is for students to recognize and develop their own or collaborative forms of inquiry and experimentation.

Multiple Media

Design relies on a multiplicity of media systems. These systems are in flux as new technologies, tools and paradigms shift contemporary culture. Students investigate analogue and digital tools, as well as notable and present-day forms of visual and content methods to develop and express their work. Communication is explored through diverse platforms such as exhibition, publication, voice, Internet and social media.

Graduation Project & Thesis

The Graduation Project is a yearlong self-directed design-research investigation; it is executed in the second year of the programme and is shaped by two integrated and reciprocal efforts: Design Project and Thesis. The graduation project is planned as a bridge to professional practice after the Master studies.

These projects are the accumulation of unique design ideas and strategies based on a student’s interest, synthesizing research, innovation and professional expertise. The process commands maturity in content and creative vision, building opinions and a critical approach. Students are encouraged to circulate projects beyond the Piet Zwart Institute academic environment towards an international professional context with the intent to further build upon the research, launching their creative practice.

After your study programme

Different possibilities

After your graduation

Congratulations! You just received your Master of Arts (MA) degree. You must complete a professional traineeship before you can enter your name in the Register of Architects.

With your degree, you will receive a supplement, a DS-label. With this English document, you can show the value of your degree abroad when applying for other study programmes or when applying for a job.


Where you can find us
Foto van locatie Location

Piet Zwart Institute

Karel Doormanhof 45 3012 GC Rotterdam

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