Study programme

The bachelor's programme in Interior Architecture and Furniture Design (IA & FD) covers the full breadth of the spatial domain and focuses on the spatial conditions that determine how we experience our everyday living environment. Each year, a central theme is chosen that inspires the department's activities. Some examples of yearly themes are: Shrinkage-pruning-growth, (Dis)connect/Always on, Gender, en The Politics and Poetics of Landscape, Gardening the World, and Movement.

The four-year programme of the Bachelor Interior Architecture & Furniture Design consists of three phases: the propaedeutic phase, the main phase and the graduation phase. Each phase has a specific mission. The line followed by these missions is that of EXPLORE (Year 1), FOCUS & CONTEXT (Years 2 and 3) and POSITION (Year 4).

This chronological structure is elaborated into five learning tracks, which constitute the domains that are addressed in each of the years of study. These five domains are:

Theoretical and practical learning skills are integrated in the design studios in which each student has their workstation. Because the architecture and design courses that we give are embedded within an art academy context, the emphasis of the courses lies on the possible cultural and social role of design and architecture.

By using their ‘thinking’ hands, students experiment while working with materials and giving form; by making content, this way, they make surprising and unforeseen discoveries within their design process.

By offering to work on real assignments within the framework of the school, students train their professional practice skills. Designing Events like the Open Day Presentation and the Department Dinner and taking part in them is an integral part of IAFD learning.

Within this domain, students sharpen their critical and independent attitude and discover their unique way to position themselves within the art, architecture, and design context. In this, the emphasis for students is on learning to work independently, to make choices for their positioning in the field, and they are also given more choice in the supervision by teachers of their independently set up projects. The first year starts with a knowledge project, then a studio project, in the third year a knowledge and a studio project, and in the final exam year the final exam project.

We analyse existing architecture and design projects to discover the decision-making process and how we could use this knowledge in planning new ones.

The curriculum is based on the principles of experimentation and research. Each academic year, the research focuses on specific areas or current topics, starting from a solid historical and cultural basis. In this way, new possibilities arise to reinterpret this basis and to integrate current issues into design experiments. Because these design experiments are often very personal, there is no standard process or method that can be followed.

By showing different methods, the teachers can guide you in finding and developing your own way of working. This also means that knowledge of the natural sciences, such as mechanics, biophysics, material and elementary qualities, is only taught on the basis of individual needs and necessity, depending on your own research.

Each of the five domains has an equal share in determining the quality of the total curriculum. We work in the IA & FD studio and in the workshops. Each student has their own workplace in the IA & FD studios. The projects that are developed benefit from the integration between the domains and by, for example, guest lectures built into the curriculum. Examples of these are: hand drawing classes, digital drawing classes, analogue and digital 3D model building, knowledge through the so-called Docking Stations (DOK), presentation workshops and more.

Courses & curriculum per year

What is paramount for your development as a critical as well as emphatic designer, is to be confronted with the world of designed products/results. The IA & FD department organises excursions, field trips, visits to building sites, studios, workshops, production plants, and exhibitions, but also encourages you to make your own walks through the interior of the city, the country, biking or traveling with the sole purpose of looking around you and experiencing how everything in the world is designed.


Most courses/modules have a duration of one semester. Some are taught a few hours, some half a day, some a day per week. In the week before the end of the semester each module is assessed independently during the individual reviews by the responsible tutor through a written feedback. Then, at the end of the semester, you will present all your work at the Collective Assessment. You receive collective feedback by the team of tutors that taught you during the past semester. Halfway through the semester, at the end of the first block, a midterm evaluation is inserted to have an informal dialogue on the development of your work, also in relation to each other with a number of your tutors. In this week there are no regular classes apart from the academy-wide modules and IST projects.

Competencies, assessment components & learning objectives

The IA & FD department follows the competencies that have been drawn up for art education in the Netherlands. These competencies are sharpened in each academic year.

  • Creative ability
  • Capacity for critical reflection
  • Capacity for growth and innovation
  • Organisational ability
  • Communicative ability
  • External awareness
  • Capacity for collaboration

Other evaluation criteria relate to project education:

  • Research/Analysis
  • Idea/Concept/Vision
  • Presentation - oral, visual
  • Design qualities

Project weeks

The weeks following the collective assessments in the first semester and the beginning of the second semester (3 weeks in January) are used for project weeks. During a project week, one project is worked on which leads to a result at the end of the week. The content of one of the project weeks can focus on a presentation for the Open Day.

Another project week can be an experiment or initiative proposed by the students, or offering a specific skill that is missing from the curriculum, or be a way to work on one project in full concentration. During a project week, the working mode is the same as in a workshop.

The project week is intended to give students the opportunity to develop project management and self-reliance within the IA & FD programme. The project weeks are supervised by tutors, guest lecturers and external experts, depending on the assignment and the location.

Programme structure

Mission: EXPLORE

During the first study year, the following core concepts play a central role: cross-discipline, scanning, experimentation, (broad) orientation and confrontation, design, learning by doing, interaction and social networking/student mix.

In the propaedeutic phase, maximum use is made of the institute’s workshops and facilities, exposing you to all possible methods of development and production. Interaction with the other disciplines offered by the KABK is also encouraged during this phase. The propaedeutic phase is one of asking questions, exploring, experimenting and observing, in addition to becoming aware that art and design (along with art education) always involve creating in relation to thought (and vice versa).

Project-based instruction plays a central role. Each semester, you work on two main Studio projects, which involve design exercises composed in different phases. Project work takes place during a concentrated period of app. 15 weeks.

The morphology Studio is characterised by learning to work with space and form, form studies and sculpture. Investigations are fueled with input from other disciplines, working across disciplines. You are familiarised with the idiom of the architecture and design discipline by producing and experimenting and by making your hands speak. In the second semester you will follow an introduction on how you can program your Individual Study Trajectory, which will start in the second year of your studies. (The aim of the IST, which is compulsory for all students from the second year onwards, is to add depth and breadth to the study programme of each BA department.)

As part of the Media & Materials domain first-year students receive a thorough introduction to all departments and disciplines and to the wealth of facilities/workshops available throughout the Academy.

The Professional Practice domain is training you to design, organise and produce an event (the IA & FD Open Day), to present your assignments for assessment each semester and to be a buddy to a graduate student helping with his/her graduation project.

In the first year, the Knowledge domain consists of three main components. (Architectural and Design) History & Theory classes will give insight in the history and contemporary situations and context of architecture, design and visual arts, the Alchemy track will train your oral and writing skills for communicating the concepts and frameworks in your own work through mind maps and presentation exercises. All Bachelor students at the KABK take the module Research & Discourse during the propaedeutic phase. The module exists of a series of discussions on a number of case studies in art and design and gives exercises on how to do artistic research. It helps you to document investigations for the purpose of helping you to formulate your design attitude.

The KABK also organises a Studium Generale lecture series for all students to attend. In addition, lectures are regularly organised within the various subjects and study years.

The Sites & Stages course is an elective course for students from year 1 to 4 and is taught by recent alumni. This course includes a reading group, a series of film evenings and a series of excursions.

The KABK also organises a Studium Generale lecture series for all students to attend. In addition, a lecture series is organised by the bachelor IAFD and master MIA department two times a year. Each series consists of six lectures on a particular topic (usually related to the department’s chosen year theme). For the exchange of knowledge and experience between alumni and current students of IAFD a number of Alumni Events are organised throughout the year.

Mission: FOCUS

Core concepts in the main phase are forecasting, back casting, visionary thinking, dreaming, the future, and the here and now. The curriculum seeks to forge links to contemporary issues in both the national and international arena - to connect to the real world and to your individual position within this theme (Who am I?).

The second year is the phase in which you deepen your existing skills, gain insight into the profession and become aware of your own intentions, which lay at the basis of your work and work processes.

Having been introduced to your chosen field, the academy and the workshops during the propaedeutic phase, you use this basic knowledge in the second year to adopt positions in assignments of greater complexity. The reality of the professional field and the specific areas of attention it comprises are examined in greater depth. At the same time, you are urged to start formulating a vision and a dream for your future as a designer. You are expected to demonstrate a greater degree of initiative, and you are challenged to develop and use your own personal preferences.

Interior versus Furniture

From the second year onwards, students of Furniture Design and Interior Architecture follow separate design curricula. Although the projects in the Studio domain are structured in the same way, the approach and content is tailored to the specific field. At the same time, this similar structure also offers opportunities for collaboration. The studios of the Furniture Design department will focus more on deconstructing and reconstructing objects, discovering new resources and production methods. The Interior Architecture department focuses more on, for instance, the development of spatial organizational skills, tectonic exercises on skins and envelopes and social implications of building. The second year students follow the other domains jointly.

In the second year the Morphology modules transform themselves more into the format of an extra Studio. The in-depth investigative component within both the Studios and the Morphology domain increases with each study year. The Media & Materials domain will be mostly integrated in the Studios except for the Website & Identity course, in which you develop your own personal website to define your relation with your (future) profession.

The courses offered by the department in the context of the Individual Study Track (IST) programme include modules known as Research Labs. These are also offered academy wide, giving them a more inter-disciplinary character. The aim of the IST, which is compulsory for all students from the second year onwards, is to add depth and breadth to the study programme.

Students who wish to use the IST to add depth to their studies can choose to lay greater emphasis on the fundamental courses, make a selection from the KABK-wide range of interdisciplinary Research Labs and introductory courses, or choose to take electives or a minor at Leiden University. The IST is accompanied by a study plan, which must be approved by the IST coach. Both the coach and the study advisor guide students in drawing up this plan.

The Knowledge domain in the second year consists of three main components: Art, Architecture and Design History &Theory. Through a series of diverse lectures, you are introduced to a variety of relevant themes in art, architecture and design history and theory and how these topics have been used, researched and exploited by artists, architects and designers. By means of case study assignments, you are challenged to further scrutinize the concept of these themes, broadening your frame of reference, and to employ the concepts of these topics into your own work.

In the second (and third) year, the Knowledge domain is also linked to one of the two Studios (per semester), referred to as DOK. These DOKs provide you with direct theoretical input and motivate you to delve even deeper into the theory. This constitutes an initial impulse for the development of individual preferences and original research.

For all second year students (IA & FD) the semester 1 project week will be linked to the department dinner that will be organised by them at the end of the KABK Open Day. Notwithstanding the project week’s open programme, the students will abide to some requirements, but these will prove to give an effective point of reference, and a shared responsibility vis-à-vis the IAFD department.

Mission: CONTEXT

Core concepts in this part of the main phase include the following: reality check, skills, knowledge, practical and professional experience, employee vs. entrepreneur, internship and projects from internal studio/lab/workshop or external collaborations with the professional field, industry, authorities, companies and social organisations.

During this phase, you will focus on developing your own work and individual approach, which is expressed in personal questions or problem statements. The interaction between the artistic and the social environment also plays an important role in this phase.

The third study year mirrors the structure of the second year, with an additional focus on the links to professional practice. The exercises within the Studio domain attempt to add depth by specifically addressing the malleability of the designs. You become aware of the challenges that result from a developed concept in terms of construction, materials and costs by carrying out a ‘reality check’.

The practical exercises constitute an important aspect of the third year curriculum. You will work on real assignments for external clients, in which implementation and realization of the project within budgetary frameworks and a strict schedule play an important role. Recent projects include: Frame x KABK pop-up shop for the Dutch Design Week 2016 and 2017, Mentality - No Style!, a series of five events on the occasion of the 2017 centennial of De Stijl, the scenography for The Nutcracker Suite in collaboration with the Jazz section of the Royal Conservatoire, and more. Such direct links to practice are also made through presentations in the Netherlands and abroad, including the bi-annual presentation at the Salone del Mobile in Milan.

You are encouraged to work across disciplines as much as possible and to draw heavily upon the expertise, facilities and workshops available within the KABK. The Media and Materials domain and Knowledge domain are further explored by focusing on specific themes and techniques. These overarching topics emerge from the year theme, which often relates to a specific social context, and also provide direction in the other domains. One of the courses is directly related to writing about, editing and art direction of your work.

In semester 5, each student writes an internship plan including the development of an individual and expressive portfolio in order to obtain a place in the company or environment that suits you or interests you the most. The capstone of the main phase is this assessment portfolio prepared during the second and third study years. This portfolio will be an extension and reformulation of the website and identity you developed in year 2.

In semester 6 you will be familiarised with professional practice in the form of an internship at a carefully and individually selected national or international design or architectural firm. Halfway through the internship period, at the internship return day, all students will give a presentation about their experiences to their peers and the internship coordinator. The internship concludes with a written report.


Core concepts in the fourth year include: manifestation, body of work, statement and portfolio, additional research, additional depth, paper/thesis, and collection building.

In the graduation phase, you will focus on developing your individual position. You will determine your place in the professional field, manifesting this through your body of work, statement and portfolio. Additional depth is pursued through a paper or thesis. You will create your own architecture or design projects, master the associated techniques and are able to present your projects in a convincing manner.

The primary goal of the final phase, which culminates in a final examination, is to allow you to demonstrate your qualities as designer. This implies that you must be able to convert your ideas into concepts, architectural solutions, furniture and product solutions, form, material, technique and detail. All of this in the context of two assignments: an applied assignment in semester seven and a self-initiated graduation project in semester eight.

In the applied assignment, you go through all the conventional stages of the development and execution of a design; from sketch proposal, to preliminary proposal, to definite design and budget, to working drawings, to execution within budget.

In the fourth year, the Studio, Knowledge and Professional Practice Skills domains form the main components of the programme.

In semester 7 you work on an applied assignment that testifies as a sort of ‘master proof’ to the skills you have obtained in designing and realizing projects. Within the Knowledge domain, the thesis is the outcome of an individual and self-initiated research – using language (among others) as a tool to order intuitive and associative reflections. The thesis functions as a well-founded manifesto – a mission statement – that links with the graduation project. Positioning & Realisation, within the Professional Practice Skills domain, is a permanent workshop that addresses all essential, structural support regarding (re)presentation and additional connections to practice, all other domains and other disciplines. Workshops and lectures will offer useful exercises, hands on research and practical support. The preparation of the semester 8 excursion will also take the form of a workshop, resulting in a travelogue.

The semester 8 examinations in Interior Architecture or Furniture Design consist of the following components:

  1. Projects: Graduation Project and Applied Assignment
    You are able to create multiple designs that address one or more issues of the entirety of the (interior) architectural or (furniture) design field in the broadest sense of the term. This is accomplished within a thematic and self-developed graduation assignment that relates your design, project, work to a thematic or locational context. Individual students select their own independent positions within an applied assignment, demonstrating that they are capable of applying the relevant techniques and skills needed to realize their designs optimally, based on the knowledge and experience gained in all domains.
  2. Research by design (IST)
    Research by Design expresses your personal design attitude. This design and research component is an extension of previous study projects that have been realised within the domains of the Studios, Morphology, Knowledge and/or the Individual Study Track. It’s about having an insight in your way of working, and being able to use this insight to define and formulate your graduation project design brief.
  3. Theoretical research
    One important aspect of the final phase is the theoretic research project: an essay (in a visual or written form) and/or thesis in which you are expected to position yourself and to reflect critically on the discipline, your fascinations and the relationship to your own work. The essay/ thesis explicitly addresses the knowledge acquired within the Knowledge domain. You are expected to adopt specific positions with regard to current theories on architecture and design and position yourself within the current discourse.
  4. Body of work
    You can include previously realised designs and research (from preceding study years) in your final Graduation presentation and exhibition.
  5. Professional practice skills and the professional context
    The final examination, the graduation exhibition and the presentation of the graduation projects will be part of a public event: the Graduation Festival. Here, the most important aspect is the visual and verbal presentation of your graduation projects. You are expected to position yourself and your work within the discipline. There is a variety of ways in which you can present your work to the outside world, for example through your graduation portfolio or by creating your own professional website and setting up PR and social media campaigns.

Further education

Graduates of the Bachelor of Interior Architecture & Furniture Design can apply for a master's degree or another postgraduate program at an art academy, such as the Sandberg Institute or the Jan van Eyck, the Academy of Architecture (Amsterdam University of the Arts) or the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture and Urban Design. Continuing your studies at one of the technical universities (such as the TUDelft) is also possible, but first you have to follow a transition program.

Possible studies abroad include AA London, Cooper Union NYC, UdK Berlin. At the KABK, you can choose to continue your studies at the Master Interior Architecture (INSIDE) or one of the other master's degrees.

Related studies