The BFA in Interior Design is located within the School of Constructed Environments' (SCE) family of programs. This academic home supports the interdisciplinary inquiry that distinguishes Parsons as a whole. Students pursuing SCE's architectural, product, and lighting design tracks share research and fabrication facilities, and all work in an open design studio with wireless digital capability. These colleagues also collaborate on projects, uniting historically segregated design disciplines—and degree levels—to form an intimate community.
By pairing Art and Design History and Theory courses with related studio classes, the program curricula helps students develop essential research, writing, and critical reasoning skills while providing conceptual foundations for creative inquiry. Because Parsons is part of The New School, a larger university with a tradition of cross-disciplinary inquiry, students can choose from a wide range of lecture courses and electives in the humanities, social sciences, media studies, and business.
New York City is arguably the epicenter of the interior design industry in both traditional and theoretical conceptions of the practice. Parsons' long-held prominence in the industry provides students with access to the city's many interior design firms and departments. Showrooms like the Decoration & Design Building or the Architects & Designers Building specialize in resources for the trade, and the city's many galleries and auction houses present incomparable opportunities to source materials and furnishings.
Class projects allow students to apply their skills and learning to the urban setting. For the Truffles Tribeca development in downtown New York City, for example, seniors in the BFA Interior Design program created interiors using sustainable materials for two model apartments that were built.
For research, New York's museums, collections, archives, and designed spaces present work in contexts useful for both applied and critical study. The Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, home to a comprehensive collection of decorative arts and furniture and an MA in Decorative Arts program offered by Parsons, as well as host of industry-related events, is a key resource in particular. Material ConneXion, a consultancy for industry practitioners researching new materials, is a city resource that complements Parsons' own collection in the Angelo Donghia Materials Center.
Parsons' Interior Design programs play a leading role in shaping and interpreting major shifts in the industry that have resulted from social and environmental changes and innovations in materials and processes.
AfterTaste, an annual international symposium hosted by the program to explore the conceptual boundaries of the interior design field, is an ideal platform for this critical debate. AfterTaste brings noted scholars and practitioners such as Penny Sparke, Mayer Rus, Jorge Otero-Pailos, James Auger, and Sabine von Fischer to present on themes ranging from the notion of taste to the human senses and how they relate to interiors.
Debate is shared with the wider community on the pages of Scapes, SCE's publication featuring writings by faculty, students, and other scholars and practitioners.