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College of Architecture, Planning and Design

Interior Architecture & Product Design

Message from the Department Head

HoweI want to thank everyone in offering their support as I take on the role of Department Head for Interior Architecture and Product Design. As I have gotten to know our students and faculty more closely over the past few months I have been blown away at the caring and creative spirit unique to the IAPD family. As we move into our new/old building I cannot help but be envious of our current and future students. The Seaton and new Regnier Hall has always been their home away from home and now what a home it will be! Finally, our building will reflect the amazing ingenuity, careful thought, rigor and exquisite execution that has been the hallmark of our faculty and students. I look forward to witnessing how this facility will further transform our department and college.

Continuing a path for the future I would like to share a forecast of my vision for IAPD. The major aspects that will become the foundation of my vision are fostering its growth, technology and partnership.

Growth - We have a strong department but as anyone in the design profession understands change is always necessary to stay current and relevant. As part of a transformation of the department I want to create a secondary track for our students with a degree in Product Design. The design emphasis of interior architecture, furniture and product design makes our degree unique. However, to continue to leverage the growing maker culture seen globally our product design program must adapt to this trend. This second degree will take some time to implement and I will keep you posted as we progress through the steps to make this a reality.

This degree will not diminish our current degree in IAPD but let us further augment the IAPD curriculum regarding a design make culture. As part of this plan, we will be advertising for two new product design faculty and an interior architecture faculty this year. It will be such a pleasure to be recruiting for these positions within the backdrop of our new design studios and fabrication laboratories.

Technology – Finally, Virtual Reality (VR) has arrived! The siren of VR has been teasing us for decades but now the technology has caught up to the dream. The effect of walking through one’s design cannot be overstated. I see this as a necessary tool to not only more fully understand the effect of the design but as a way of investigating various options in real-time at full scale. I will be purchasing a VR set to be housed in our 5th year studio coming this fall. Once again, I find myself envious of current and future students. The space and tools that will soon become ubiquitous and banal is astounding.

The above proposals and projects are but a few I see as essential to what I envision for Interior Architecture and Product Design as we grow, make new partnerships for collaboration and look for new technologies to best support our students’ education and this department. They serve as a snapshot into what I care about and what I perceive will serve the department well in its growing presence within the College of Architecture, Planning and Design.

Partnership - If you have been keeping up on INsight you know of the success Professor Neal Hubbell’s Contract Furniture class has had in working with OFS Brand. Three of the projects designed by the student teams are being considered as additions to the OFS line of furniture. With this success, we are now looking at alternatives for how this experience can grow and become a more integral part of our student curriculum.

I have been discussing a project with the Flint Hills ATA Bus system and they are interested in having APDesign consult to design, prototype and possibly manufacture a bus stop family for their service. This would involve the city of Manhattan and possibly Junction City Also involved in the project will be a few landscape architecture students and a regional planning student to make this project a true collaborative college effort. The Flint Hills ATA has budgeted $15,000 to sponsor this project. This project is one of what I envision to be many collaborative projects with local and regional entities attempting to better our communities through great design.

DLR will be sponsoring our capstone studios. As part of this sponsorship they will be partnering their expertise with our capstone studios to do a deep dive into how to renovate existing school buildings to create better learning environments. They will be working with the Kansas City, Kansas school district to determine the ideal school for this research. The field research and final design documentation will give our students real-world experience working with a client and expose the Kansas City, Kansas students to the design profession and how it can help better their community.

 These are just the initial projects of what I have envisioned for IAPD. There are other partnerships, growth and technologies I and the faculty are considering and I will let you know as they develop. This is an exciting time for our design degree and potential new degree. As we get to know our new building and all that it offers I am sure we will discover other alternatives to teaching, learning and serving the larger community with great design.


Nathan Howe
Interior Architecture & Product Design
Department Head
1087 Seaton Regnier Hall
Kansas State University