What to Expect What is Interior Architecture?

The School of Interior Architecture has grown by almost 120% since 2013. That tells us we’re doing something right.

In 2017, we changed our name from the School of Interior Design to School of Interior Architecture, so you would better understand what you’ll be learning. The new name reflects what our students learn every day: The intersection of math, science and art with the human sciences to create functional and culturally significant spaces to meet need and solve problems for people.


What you won’t learn

It needs to be said: We aren’t interior decorating. That discipline is valuable and plays an important role in our world, but it’s not what we are. Yes, in the School of Interior Architecture, you’ll learn about light, form and color, but you’ll also learn how those interact with structure, function, construction and architecture.

You’ll learn about building codes, HVAC systems and construction materials, so you’ll understand how they impact the use and human experience within a space. And you’ll have classes with students in the School of Architecture in your first and last years. We’re one of the few colleges who do this, and we do it to mimic what you’ll experience in the professional world.  We do it to enrich your educational experience.


The Human Experience

So just how do our students learn to enhance the human experience and solve problems through culturally significant and functional design?

  • A recent studio focused on designing a facility that is used by people with disabilities. Our students first put themselves in the places of the people who would be using the space by attempting to maneuver using black-out goggles. They put rocks in their shoes to understand how going up stairs can be difficult, and they used technology to affect their hearing.
  • Another studio designed an ethnic restaurant for Knoxville. Students attended a local cultural fair and interacted with patrons and played games with the children. They experienced true ethnic cuisine and immersed in the culture before putting pen to paper.
  • In 2017, a student, Rachel Hunt, received an international research award from The Undergraduate Awards for her research on bioluminescence and how it could be replicated in the work environment to help people work more efficiently.
  • Interior Architecture students were among the interdisciplinary group who designed and built the multi-award winning projects, Beardsley Farm Education Center, A New Norris House and Living Light House.
Model in foreground, final review in background