Interior spaces today are laboratories of modernity. Whether it is through renovation projects, commercial spaces or art installations, interiors have become an endless arena for experimenting with cultural, social and political agendas that transform the contemporary condition from within. The Department of Interior Architecture at HEAD-Geneva [HEAD-AI’ID] explores the role of interior spaces in the construction of contemporary cities and societies. The practice of interior design is considered multidisciplinary, articulating the diversity of spaces, objects and people that configure reality via many methods and scales, from local to global, from analogue to digital. The Department responds to this hybrid condition by encouraging a strong interaction with reality: students are regularly engaged in real projects, working on all aspects of the design process including the technical and administrative aspects inherent to the field. This professional approach creates an arena of experimental condition that proves challenging for teachers, students and real users. Based in Geneva and driven by global ambitions, HEAD-AI’ID prepares its students to intervene in a human-centred reality, with Bachelor and Master programmes offering advanced technical training, extensive design practice and a humanistic education that helps them develop their critical thinking and engage in a profession that, through individual creativity, is always aware of its collective implications.
In the early 20th century, architectural modernity was mainly related to urban planning and to the territorial expansion of cities, a process that has marked contemporary cities and societies. It was the urban, associated with the ideas of order and functionalism, that dominated the agenda of architectural discourse. Today, especially in the West, most urban buildings and environments are already built up, and often have a heritage listing. The laboratory of architectural modernity has therefore shifted towards the transformation of interior spaces, both permanent and ephemeral. Whether it is the interior spaces of airports, museums, apartments or retail facilities, all transformations in modern societies are linked to constantly changing interior spaces, while the facades of the buildings remain the same.
From a contemporary perspective, interior design therefore covers an extraordinarily broad range of practices: from domestic to commercial and working spaces, heritage renovation, display design, corporate and artistic scenography, theatre and film sets, ephemeral installations, furniture and object design… In each of these professional territories, interior architects build contemporary societies through interior spaces: the articulation of scenarios of equality, the reduction of energy consumption, the integration of social minorities or the respect for sexual, political and religious diversity are always social constructs linked to the techniques, materials and iconographies of contemporary interiors.
One of the unique aspects of the Department of Interior Architecture is that students regularly work on real projects —domestic, retail and work spaces, temporary exhibitions, scenography design— being trained in all the inherent conceptual, technical and administrative aspects of the profession.
A unique quality of the Department of Interior Architecture is the students’ constant interaction with reality: HEAD-AI’ID regularly collaborates with public and private organizations in full-size projects that constitute the backbone of the course structure. Students are thus able to work on different types of professional projects —domestic, retail and work spaces, temporary exhibitions, scenography design—preparing themselves for the discipline’s inherent conceptual, technical and administrative aspects. Recent work by HEAD’s students includes projects presented at the Salone del Mobile in Milan, Designer’s Saturdays in Langenthal, Design Parade in Toulon, and collaborations with prestigious brands such as Aesop, Montblanc and USM.
The student community at the Department of Interior Architecture works side-by-side with an outstanding team of international interior designers, architects, product designers and experts from different disciplines. The Bachelor and Master programmes apply a pedagogical system conceived as a space for freedom but also for personal and social responsibility. A fundamental aspect is the inclusion of multiple narratives, avoiding a monolithic vision of history, society, design and art: this is a vision of education where diversity is a value, and where each student develops his or her own creative identity. The curriculum is complemented by conferences, public symposia, exhibitions of students’ work, and national and international study trips.
The Bachelor and Master programs in Interior Architecture offer students the opportunity to interact with the broad community of other disciplines taught at HEAD-Geneva, such as cinema, fashion design, visual arts or media design. Cross-curricular workshops and courses are held regularly to explore multidisciplinary programmes and encourage transversal creativity. Students work in modern facilities with access to spacious design studios and state-of-the-art technical workshops. Finally, the school is located in Geneva, a global city which itself has become a laboratory of modernity, offering all the advantages of a contemporary metropolis and the cultural dynamism of architecture institutions such as Maison de l’architecture and Pavillon Sicli.