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Study programme overview

Open Day 2015 - Interior Architecture and Furniture Design Department presentations

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Please note: the description below applies to the new Bachelor of Design, which was implemented at the start of the academic year 2011-2012. For the current curriculum of study year four in 2013-2014 please refer to: Curriculum old style below.

Full-time programme

Main structure

The four-year programme of the new Bachelor of Design has three phases: the propaedeutic year, the main phase and the final phase. Each phase has a specific mission. These missions follow the substantive structure of cross-pollination (year 1), depth and connection (years 2 and 3) and positioning (year 4). This chronological structure is organised in four directions, ‘the domains’, which return in each academic year. The four domains are design, morphology (labs), media & materials and knowledge & context. Characteristic of the study programme are the experiment and research elements. Each year, the research focuses on a specific area or contemporary theme. At the core of the curriculum lies a solid historical and cultural basis, and students are given the possibility to interpret this basis and integrate it into their designs.


The Design domain

Designing is the main component and foundation of the programme. The design domain has a thematic structure. Especially in the first year, the conceptual framework is simple in set-up in order to discuss and question everyday concepts. In Interior design four subject areas are centralised: Private interior, Public Interior, Urban interior and Object 3D. From the second year onwards, the Furniture Design program focuses on the areas: Private object, Public object, Urban object and Object 3D. During classes, the student works under the guidance of teachers but also independently on projects in the studio space at the academy.

The Morphology domain

In a simulated laboratory atmosphere, autonomous exercises, examinations and free (form) studies take place in the morphology component. This domain differs from the design assignment in that students only ‘create’. The process stages from analysis to end design, which are regular to the assignments, are explicitly ignored here: it's not about the end result, but about the process. From a certain approach or method, students instantly create, visualise and experiment. Morphology has as aim to examine, familiarise and control the phenomenon of space and form, with numerous methods and approaches. The medium or the approach partly determines the form of expression. The integration of visualisation is also an important element in this domain. The morphology domain amply addresses topics such as light, texture, relief, shape, acoustics and sound, colour, smell, etc.

The Media & Materials domain

In the media & materials domain, basic skills and tools are discussed, not so much to develop them, but as a means of discovery and to teach students how to apply them in design projects. This domain is therefore also a source of inspiration and functions as a trigger. Media, techniques and materials become the terrain of expertise and research. The domain covers, among others, the skills hand drawing 2D and 3D, model construction, photography, graphic design, textiles and ceramics, computer 2D and 3D, rapid prototyping, augmented reality and image processing. The teaching and mastering of the techniques and skills is not an independent element and is not the primary learning objective. This domain is equally cross-disciplinary and extends across the boundaries of the design disciplines. This study component is the student’s primary source to get optimally introduced to all departments and the wealth of facilities/workshops of the institute.

The Knowledge & Context domain

The knowledge & context domain covers theoretical knowledge in the form of seminars and (work) assignments relating to art philosophy, architectural theory and design theory. Additionally, lectures and excursions are organised

The Interior Architecture department offers its own annual lecture series consisting of eighteen lectures. The lecture series gives an extra theoretical impulse to the programme and matches, as closely as possible, the on-going study programme and the theme of the semester. The direct link between the selected semester theme and the programme of lectures and films (and the academy-wide Studium Generale) strengthens and supports the theoretical framework and also, specifically, the semester programme. We especially invite young (hot) talent to speak in the lecture series. Students organise a debate after each lecture or film.

Excursions and tours are an essential aspect of the programme. The propaedeutic year starts with an introduction week in which the students go on excursion. In the annual excursion week, students also go on an excursion, which is often abroad. The main study programme is complemented by a number of smaller theoretically and practically themed excursions, museum visits, exhibitions, and so on.

Individual Study Trajectory

The Individual Study Trajectory (IST) is available for all students from the second year onwards, and aims to broaden and deepen the study. Students can follow courses in the IST on the condition that their choice is connected to their design assignment of that period, and that the relationship between the IST choice and the assignment can be clearly demonstrated in the final assessment. The study load and the associated credits are appointed for this purpose in consultation with the team of lecturers. There are several possibilities available, such as following a minor at Leiden University. In addition to the electives, students can use the IST to deepen their study by appointing more time to the obligatory courses, or choose from the academy-wide IST offer and/or the interdisciplinary Research Labs of the department(s).

As part of the Individual Study Trajectory, students compose a study plan that requires the approval of the team of lecturers and is supervised by both the coach and the study advisor. The coach supervises students for the duration of one academic year, while the study advisor guides students throughout all their years of study. Coaches stimulate their students to work cross-disciplinary as much as possible, and to use all the expertise, facilities and workshops available. 12 EC are appointed to the IST per year.

Part-time students can benefit from the offer of electives. Students can also follow courses from the full-time or part-time curriculum in the framework of the IST (on the condition that places are available and permission has been granted). For general information about the IST please refer to chapter 6.1.3.

Programme per year

Year 1 [semesters 1 and 2]

Propaedeutic year

Mission: cross-pollination

The first year of study focuses on the following core issues:

Cross-disciplinary, test limits, experiment, (broad) orientation and confrontation, design, learning by doing, interaction and social network/student mixing. In the propaedeutic year students make optimal use of the workshops and facilities offered by the institute. This introduces students to all possible development and production methods. We also aim to interact with the other disciplines at the KABK.

Project work is central to the first year. Each semester, students work on two main projects in the form of design assignments that are completed in different stages. Students work highly concentrated for a period of 16 weeks on these projects. The morphology domain is represented in four blocks throughout the year. The rest of the weekly programme is more or less appointed to the design projects. The knowledge & context domain, the theory component of the first year, consists of three main components:

  1. Architectural theory and reflection: concepts and frameworks, contemporary current situation and context.
  2. Design theory: concepts and frameworks, contemporary current situation, design, visual art and context.

In the first year in the media & materials domain, the student is introduced to all departments and facilities/workshops at the KABK.

  1. Research and Discourse: all first year students follow the course Research and Discourse as part of the academy-wide programme. The KABK also organises a Studium Generale for all students. Additionally, we organise an annual lecture series consisting of eighteen thematic lectures.

Year 2 [semesters 3 and 4]

Main Phase

Mission: depth and connection

Key concepts of the main phase are forecasting, back-casting, visionary thinking, dreams, future, here and now. Students also reflect on international and national contemporary issues, connect to the real world, and find their own position in the framework of the theme: ‘who am I’.

After an introduction to the discipline, the academy and the workshops in the propaedeutic year, students apply this basic knowledge in the second year to position themselves in the framework of more complex assignments. The reality of the field and its specific focal points are addressed. Students are simultaneously encouraged to formulate the beginning of their own vision and dreams for the future as a designer. Students are expected to show more initiative and they are challenged to develop and employ their personal preferences.

In the second year, two blocks Morphology are compulsory. Each academic year, the research component in both the design courses and the Morphology Labs increases in size. The department offers Research Labs in the framework of the Individual Study Trajectory (IST), which are also offered academy-wide and thus become more interdisciplinary. For more information about the IST please refer to the section ‘Individual Study Trajectory’ above, and to chapter 6.1.3.

The knowledge & context domain of the second year consists of three main components:

  1. Art reflection: visiting exhibitions, museums, galleries, platforms of contemporary art, architecture and design projects in the city, art in public spaces and buildings.
  2. Architectural theory: concepts and frameworks, contemporary current situation and context, anthropology and sociology.
  3. Design theory: concepts and frameworks, contemporary current situation and context, anthropology and sociology.

Architectural and design theory in the second year are linked to project work (Mondays or Tuesdays), so that students receive direct theoretical input and are motivated to (also) explore the theory. This forms the first attempt to develop individual preferences and (private) research. In addition, we organise lectures and seminars for both architectural and design theory in line with the research themes.

In the second year, in the framework of architectural and design theory, attention is given to anthropology of space and to the way students observe our relationship with spaces and objects from an anthropological and sociological perspective. Students examine and experience space and object from different perspectives: from the various spaces (public/private), the various users (visitor, cleaner), (often culturally determined) actions, (social) behaviour and scripts that (should) take place, and the senses (what does it smell like?).  The use and development of empathy plays a major role.

Year 3 [semesters 5 and 6]

Main Phase

Mission: depth and connection

The key concepts of this part of the main phase are forecasting, back-casting, visionary thinking, dreams, future, here and now, reality check, skills, knowledge, practical and professional experience, internship. Students also reflect on international and national contemporary issues, connect to the real world, and find their own position in the framework of the theme: ‘who am I’. This year also centralises the reality check: knowledge of the practical and professional environment, employee versus entrepreneur, relation to the field, industry and government, and business.


The third year follows the same structure as year 2, with as additional aspect the link with professional practice. In the assignments in the design domain, depth of study is achieved by emphasising the manufacturability of the designs. The students are made aware of the consequences in relation to construction, materials and costs that result from a developed concept: the reality check.

An important aspect of the third year curriculum is the practice assignment: students work for external clients on real assignments in which the production and realisation within strict budgetary frameworks and with stringent planning is an important aspect. This direct link to professional practice is also made in presentations in the Netherlands and abroad, such as the annual presentation at the Salone di Mobile in Milan.

Students are encouraged to work cross-disciplinary, optimally utilise the available expertise, and all facilities and workshops at the KABK. The media & materials and knowledge & context domains are expanded focusing on specific themes and techniques. These overarching themes emerge from annual themes, often related to a social context, that also guide the rest of the domains.

In the fifth semester students write an internship plan. In the sixth semester they take part in an intensive period in the professional field by interning at a carefully chosen and suitable (inter)national design or architectural bureau.

The main phase is concluded with the Memento: an assessment of the portfolio of work created in year 2 and 3.


Curriculum old style

Year 4 [semesters 7 and 8]

 Final phase: positioning

Key concepts: manifestation, oeuvre, statement and portfolio, more research, in-depth research, essay/thesis, collection development.

In addition to an intensive period in the professional field in the form of an internship in semester 7, the student creates an interior architecture or furniture collection in semester 8, masters the associated techniques and is able to give his collection a position on the market.

The primary goal of the final phase, which is concluded with an examination, is the candidate’s demonstration of his qualities as a designer. This means that he is able to transform his ideas into concepts, architectural solutions, furniture and product solutions, form, material, technique and detail; in the context of one or more assignments.

The exam Interior Architecture or Furniture Design consists of the following components:


The creation of a design or multiple designs that address a collection of interior architecture, furniture or related subject, in its totality and broadest sense of the word. This happens within the framework of both a thematic and a self-chosen assignment, in which an interior or piece of furniture can be intensively produced. The use of technical and spatial conditions should be interesting enough to arrive at a qualitative plan. One requirement is that the plan should allow both architectural furniture and object solutions and interventions.



The creation of a design or multiple designs, which express the student’s personal mission and quality. This design determines the student’s position and his collection in its totality, and can be in line with previous projects completed in the Individual Study Trajectory.


Previously completed designs (from previous study years) can be part of the candidate’s overall presentation, the collection. 


The writing of a thesis about a subject relevant to the discipline/profession, with the aim of formulating and applying theoretical backgrounds in relation to the personal mission and beliefs.


Graduation exhibition and presentation of the collection. An important aspect of the final phase is the visual and verbal presentation of the collection, during which we expect student to position himself and to critically reflect on the discipline, his fascinations and his relationship to his collection.

A schematic overview of the new and old curricula of the Interior Architecture and Furniture Design full-time and part-time programmes, with the corresponding credits in ECs, is included at the end of this chapter.


Each semester students work on two main projects, the design assignments that consist of several stages. Students are able to work very intensely on the projects over a period of sixteen weeks. On Tuesdays or Wednesdays, Morphology, the IST and the Research Labs are scheduled in. The rest of the weekly programme is more or less available for work on the projects. Students usually receive theory classes on Thursdays. On Fridays, the media & materials domain is scheduled, for the more autonomous skill exercises.

The part-time programme

The part-time course is predominantly similar to the full-time programme. The Individual Study Trajectory (IST), however, is offered as a taught programme. There is no compulsory internship; students are required to make their own connections in the professional field.

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