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Department of Interior Architecture & Product Design

Interior Architecture & Product Design


An abbreviated summary of the design experiences our students receive with their degree:

Interior Architecture

Academic exercises in studio and related courses require the student to respond to the presence and technical requirements of the needs of the inhabitants and the architectural enclosure, as well as to formal and aesthetic considerations. In addition to the schematic planning and shaping of space, tasks required in a typical studio may include developing a program of functions, needed spaces and equipment, selecting materials and finishes, specifying furniture and fixtures, designing wayfinding systems, signage and other environmental graphics. Throughout the curriculum, attention is given to key facility management issues, to adaptive use and preservation of historic structures, and to environmental sustainability.

The design studio focuses in sequence upon the following: the residence, retail and hospitality, the workplace, and cultural and other public institutions. Projects can include single-family and attached dwellings; stores, hotels, restaurants and health care facilities; laboratories and offices in standard and systems furnishings configurations; museums, galleries, theaters and other assembly spaces, and large multi-use facilities which are freestanding or in existing urban settings.

Exhibit Design

An additional facet of the Interior Architecture component of the curriculum exposes students to the needs, materials, and use patterns of the modern-day trade show and museum environments. Students explore branding and communicating the essence of an idea, whether for educational or other purposes and examine more typical space planning issues such as entry, approach, and ergonomics but also contend with items unique to the exhibition category: Graphics, lighting, product placement, brand recognition, public sequencing, and portability - all of which takes place on a smaller, more intimate scale.

Product Design

An introduction into the profession of industrial design which explores the methods and strategies of human interaction (human factors) with new and existing products. Various manufacturing methods and materials are explored, including metals, plastics, and synthetics. Emphasis is focused on problem definition with unique design solutions which investigate new technologies. Students develop visualization techniques to explore options, scaled prototypes, along with marketing concepts in the presentation of their final design solutions. Projects range in scale from hand-held items, to conceptual frameworks for new technologies, to internal environments for corporate aircraft and other transportation interiors.

Furniture Design

A series of furniture design studios and correlated workshops allow students to gain hands-on experience in designing and producing full-scale prototypes while exploring the principles of design and how they relate to the problems of form, function and society. Students produce their documented designs in a fully-equipped workshop allowing them to explore working with woods, metals, plastics, glass and upholstery. The emphasis of the various furniture design workshops includes invention, function, ergonomics, aesthetics, and craft. Projects can range from small turned vessels to casegoods to objects of seating.

Graphic Communication

Artistry and visual communication remain very important qualities, even for the designers of tomorrow. We expose our students to an array of different methods, media, and techniques in order to strengthen their visualization, design, and presentation through drawing and sketching abilities. From graphic analysis, diagramming, ideating, and exploration through design thinking strategies, the same issues confronted in physical media (such as tonal value, light, depth, contrast, and composition) are applied to the digital environment for complex environments.

Building Knowledge

Understanding of the forces affecting the building envelope and structure are critical to designers. We provide a strong background in sustainability, building performance implications, structure and environmental systems, lighting, building and life-safety codes, and building construction systems of small- to large-scale building types through a series of interdisciplinary and discipline-specific courses.


The comprehensive knowledge needed by design professionals is learned through a combination of classroom as well as professional experiences. Through structured internships, students engage with the day-to-day activities of a firm. Students enrolled in the non-baccalaureate degree track have two options for academic internship: 1.) During the summer after completion of third or fourth-year studies (10 weeks); or 2.) During the second semester of their fourth year (16 weeks). Interior Architecture and Product Design students can earn up to a full-semester of credit by participating in a professional internship and the associated academic requirements. This internship sequence allows the students to gain a professional perspective while working in their chosen emphasis, gaining added insight and focus to their design studies. 

Study Abroad

Students enrolled in the non-baccalaureate degree track have two options for international studies: 1.) During the summer after completion of third- or fourth-year studies, or 2.) During the second semester of their fourth year. IAPD students can earn up to a full-semester of credit by participating in a recognized study abroad program. This unique opportunity allows students to gain a global perspective while studying in their chosen emphasis, gaining added insight and focus to their design studies. It is also an invaluable opportunity to travel and live among diverse cultures.

The Department of Interior Architecture & Product Design has a direct exchange program with the Fachhochschule Rheinland-Pfalz in Trier, Germany. Students can also participate in the College's other study abroad programs, including (but not limited to):

See program timelines (PDF)

Kansas City Design Center (KCDC)

The KCDC engages university faculty and some of the region's most talented design, architecture and planning students in a learning laboratory that actively explores alternatives for Kansas City's future development. Students enrolled in the non-baccalaureate degree track may participate in KCDC during the second semester of their fourth year or during their fifth year of study.