December 4, 2008

Parsons Launches MFA in Interior Design

Parsons School of Design at The New School
Parsons Launches MFA in Interior DesignParsons The New School for Design

Groundbreaking Graduate Program Will Address Challenges and Opportunities of Contemporary Interior Design

Parsons The New School for Design, which established the first interior design program in the nation in 1906, has announced a new Master of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design.* This groundbreaking program will play a leadership role in addressing the challenges and opportunities of interior design in the 21st century. It will integrate history, theory, design, material experimentation and sustainable practice into the study of contemporary interior design. The first class of students is slated for Fall 2009.

Parsons’ MFA in Interior Design was developed to advance the profession, with an understanding that today’s designers need to know how to incorporate sustainable design and enhanced building performance into their work; to stay abreast of new developments in technology and materials; and have a strong understanding of the new types of clients and users that result from social change and shifts in demographics. With Parsons’ strong emphasis on the social impact of design, this program is uniquely qualified to confront these modern challenges.

The two-year, full-time program has a studio-centered, research-oriented focus. Housed in Parsons’ School for Constructed Environments, the only integrated school of interior design, lighting design, product design and architecture in the country, students are offered an unparalleled depth and intimacy of exposure to the field, preparing them for this multifaceted discipline.

Design studios provide the foundation for the program, complemented by core studies designed to redefine the field such as the investigation of materials and their performance, fabrication and processes, forms of spatial programming, and the newly emerging study of the theory of the interior. The program culminates in a thesis studio, where students undertake focused design research on a significant aspect of the field. Concurrent with the thesis studio is a course in professional practice, which provides an overview of the legal, ethical and economic aspects of interior design.

As part of the program, Parsons organizes an annual symposium dedicated to the critical study of the interior, After Taste, which highlights emerging areas of research, allied practices that influence interior design, and under-explored territories. Participants have included Constance Adams, interior designer for NASA’s International Space Lab; Petra Blaisse, interior and textile designer of the Amsterdam-based office Inside/Outside; James Casebere, interior photographer; The Quay Brothers, London-based film and set designers; Penny Sparke, director of London’s Centre for the Modern Interior; and Susan Yelavich, Parsons faculty member and author of Contemporary World Interiors.

Students in the program are eligible for a number of merit-based scholarships. These include the Angelo Donghia Graduate Scholarship, named in honor of this pioneer of modern interior design, which offers full tuition funding for the two-year program; additional scholarships have been created through the generosity and support of alumni Jamie Drake, Victoria Hagan and Mario Buatta. The program will be submitted for accreditation by the Council of Interior Design, which is fast becoming the benchmark by which interior design programs are recognized by educators and students, and for state approvals for licensure.

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About the School for Constructed Environments

The School of Constructed Environments at Parsons The New School for Design brings together Parsons academic offerings in the fields of architecture, interior design, lighting design and product design. In addition to the new MFA in Interior Design, this encompasses a Master of Architecture, Master of Fine Arts in Lighting Design, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Architectural Design, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Product Design, and Associates Degree in Interior Design. The school is one of five thematic schools that Parsons has recently created to better facilitate an interdisciplinary approach to design education. These also include The School of Art, Media and Technology (Fine Art, Photography, Illustration, Communication Design, and Design and Technology); The School of Fashion; The School of Design Strategies (Foundation, Integrated Design, Design & Management, Environmental Studies, and proposed thematic graduate programs in Sustainability, Urban and Trans-disciplinary Design); and The School of Art and Design History and Theory.

About Parsons The New School for Design

Parsons The New School for Design prepares students to creatively and critically address the complex conditions of contemporary global society. Its curriculum is geared toward synthesizing rigorous craft with cutting-edge theory and research methods, and encourages collaborative and individual approaches that cut across a wide array of disciplines. For more information, please visit

*Pending New York State Approval

Image above:
Ecotoparies by Matter Architecture
Alfred Zollinger, principal and faculty member, Parsons MFA ID

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