Ready to make your mark in the field of interior design?
We spoke to MA Interior Design Course Leader Sarah Bax about how the MA can help you find solutions to interior space and design problems, learn from industry professionals about current challenges, and help you develop your career in interior design.
What’s your background and how has it influenced the design of the MA?
Sarah: My background is in space planning and energy efficient design, and I've taught various undergraduate and postgraduate interior design courses. Sustainability and wellbeing are passions of mine and I believe designers have the power to research and provide solutions to the built environment.
This course aims to provide a platform for students to follow their research specialism. As Course Leader, my role is not just about overseeing the course, it's about responding to creative potential and passing this on to students to give them opportunities in the current industry.
What can you tell us about the MA Interior Design course?
Sarah: The focus of the course is on evidence-based research and implementing that into new design strategies. You can research and find solutions to interior space and design problems.
One of the modules is about specialism and practice. It's all about identifying where you want to fit in, because there are many areas of interior design. It's not just domestic decoration and styling, it’s also commercial and so it could be retail, hospitality, healthcare or leisure.
There’s also a module all about sustainability and how designers can contribute to the global crisis avoidance and there is also a module about collaboration. There's a retail and hospitality module where we look at enhancing customer experience.
There's a module about stripping back interiors and historical buildings so we can re-use existing housing stock or buildings, so we don't have to knock down and build from scratch. In another module we look at space, movement and time – our primeval instinct and how that reflects in interior design.
We also look at inclusivity and diversity in another module. That's all about how we can provide good spaces for many types of people, and how we can have multigenerational living as well.
The course is all about discussion and debate about how we can find solutions to these problems.
What software do interior designers use?
Sarah: Rhino, AutoCAD and Vectorworks are the typical software programs that interior designers use, but there's lots of others. There's Photoshop, SketchUp and V-Ray, for example.
The main point to remember is that we’ll encourage you to enhance your existing software skills through online training, if you feel they need to be worked on.
You don't have to be able to draw on a computer to do the course. I encourage a hand-drawn sketch element as well, and you can combine the two and use whatever software you want. There's no requirement to use AutoCAD or any particular software.
Will students get to create models during the course?
Sarah: There's the opportunity to build a model or create an installation, which is more like a large-scale model, or make a model of a detail. For example, in the retail module you could create a model of display units to explore how to improve the retail environment.
Some people might have limitations with model making at home, so you can model in software as well. A lot of students make a physical model which might not have all the detail in it and then enhance that model in Photoshop. There are online courses that can help you improve your skills in these areas.
Will students hear from industry professionals?
Sarah: The course integrates hearing from industry professionals into your learning, with module video content providing valuable connections with current industry practices from design fields such as healthcare, hospitality, leisure, retail, education, domestic living and the workplace.
This not only provides important insights from experts into current topics such as post-Covid-19 design, sustainability and biophilic design solutions, it provides a platform of research possibilities for you.
What are the career opportunities following an MA Interior Design?
Sarah: There are opportunities in multiple areas and not just for interior designers. You might be more of an architectural, spatial, interior designer interested in buildings and changing spaces. You might be an interior product designer.
I've had students who have been textile designers and graphic designers because we need furnishings in our interiors and we need signage, especially in health provision. We need wayfinding signs and illustrations. It isn’t just about one type of interior design.
What’s important to remember is that this master’s course is research led, which means each individual student will have their own specialist research focus they can pursue. The course doesn’t teach people about the fundamentals of interior design, it allows students a platform to enhance their specialist knowledge.
There are different sectors – retail, hospitality, leisure, health and domestic, to name just a few. There are also other more specialist interior design sectors, quite exciting areas that you can move into, such as aeronautical, which is designing luxury plane interiors or marine, which is superyacht interior design.
I asked a recent applicant to the course why she was excited about starting. She told me that it was the opportunity to look at all the different elements of interior design that she’s never really thought about before, and to meet industry professionals.
The staff involved on the master’s, like me, have had experience in the industry and are also all experienced university lecturers. The industry professionals give pre-recorded presentations and talks that can be watched whenever it is convenient for you.
The course is a chance for you to network with like-minded students and staff who work in industry, and to develop your professional career.
Thank you to Sarah for sharing your insights into the course!
Research how to create evidence-based solutions to current and future design challenges with AUB Online’s MA Interior Design: