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Environmental Design: Interior Design Specialization

Focusing on the design of expressive and humane interior and architectural space, projects are developed in an interior architectural, environmental and societal context.

Student work by Chieng Luphuyong.

Environmental Design: Interior Design Specialization

Environmental Design: Interior Design Specialization

The Interior Design Specialization at OCAD University is part of the Environmental Design program. Students interested in all types of spatial design progress together throughout the program. There are 4 identified courses and a specific Interior Design thesis course that the students in the Interior Design Specialization are required to take, aside from the courses all Environmental Design students study. The Environmental Design: Interior Design Specialization is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA).

The Environmental Design/Interior Design Specialization mission is to:

  • Utilize “Design for Humanity” as a philosophical base. The idea is to create environments and experiences that nurture community, harmonize technology, satisfy needs and empower individuals.
  • Engage our students with a curriculum that is open and empowering to the rich diversity of Ontario’s demographics – one which recognizes the advantage of developing a distinctly Toronto voice, but also understands that voice is nurtured by our architectural and cultural histories, and nuanced by all the cultures of the world who come to and partake in the life of this multicultural city.
  • Cultivate within our students innovative and conceptual leadership abilities within the fields of Interior Design and Environmental Design based upon cultural and contextual knowledge, theory, philosophy and conceptual knowledge, creative process, communication skills and professional practice.
  • Approach Interior Design as a component of the spectrum of ‘spatial design’, not as a segregated or siloed area of study. To help students understand the basic tenants of spatial design apply to all areas of spatial design, intertwined and universal.

Core design studios within the Interior Design Specialization develop a design methodology of research, analysis, design and presentation, emphasizing conceptual development: conceptual ideas are developed into spatial realities.

Advanced studio projects include commercial, residential, retail, hospitality and institutional design, with a variety of interdisciplinary options.

The fourth-year thesis studio focuses on a more complex project corresponding to the student’s particular values and interests. This core curriculum is supported by a broad base of design theory, material and technology, drawing, computer and graphic presentation, and professional practice course material.

Many students continue on to graduate studies in architecture, environmental sciences and sustainability programs, or use their design education to create new opportunities in varied and unique situations.

Retention rate

(As per the Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange [CSRDE] definition; percentage of first-time, first-year, full-time students returning from fall count to fall count.)

Cohort 1st- to 2nd-year retention 
2012 95%
2011 89%
2010 92% 
2009 92%
2008 81% 

Example interpretation: 95% of those students who were registered as a first-time, first-year, full-time Environmental Design student as at the November count date in 2012 were registered as students at OCAD University as at the November count date in 2013.

Graduation rate

(As per Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange [CSRDE] definition; percentage of first-time, first-year, full-time students as of the fall count date who graduated within six years.)

Cohort 6-year graduation rate
2008 68%
2007 81%
2006 78%
2005 69%
2004 74%

Example interpretation: 68% of those students who were registered as a first-time, first-year, full-time environmental design student as at the November count date in 2008 graduated within six years.

Acceptance into graduate programs

Many of our students successfully go on to master's programs. Our students applying to master's programs have been accepted at a rate of 100%.

Schools and programs our graduates are in or have graduated from are:

  • Aalto University, Finland, MArch
  • Academy of Fine Arts, Gdansk, Poland, Master of Fine Art
  • Columbia University, New York, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, MArch
  • Dalhousie University, Halifax, MArch
  • Illinois Institute of Technology, IIT, Chicago, MArch
  • Lund University, Sweden, Faculty of Engineering, Masters in Urban Design, Sustainable Urban Design
  • McGill University, Montreal, MArch
  • Nordic Five Tech (Alliance of five Universities in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden), dual Master's in Sustainable Urban Transitions
  • Parsons, New York, MArch
  • Pratt Institute, New York, MArch
  • Ryerson University, Toronto, Diploma in Restoration Architecture
  • UIC  Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain, Sustainable Emergency Architecture, MArch
  • University of Birmingham, England, MSc Urban and Regional Planning
  • University of British Columbia, Vancouver, MArch
  • University of Calgary, MArch
  • University of Michigan, MArch
  • University of Toronto, MArch, Master's of Landscape Architecture

Awards and recognition

  • Gamal Mohammed, sessional faculty member, recently published The Edge Environment in Traditional Cairo: An Anatomical Approach to Reading the Social Pattern Language of the Middle Eastern Built Environment.
  • Stuart Reid, professor, won the Union Station Art Installation competition. Stuart has designed and created 164 acid etched and painted glass panels to be installed in the Union Station Subway platform in 2015.
  • Gayle Nicoll, dean, Faculty of Design, and professor, recently published Active Design: Affordable Designs for Affordable Housing (2014), a follow up to Active Design Guidelines: Promoting Physical Activity and Health in Design (2010).
  • Cheryl Giraudy, associate professor, was recently awarded her MSc in Accessible and Inclusive Design, from the Surface Inclusive Design Research Centre at the University of Salford, UK.
  • Glenn MacArthur, assistant professor, recently published the second edition of Colour & Two-Dimensional Design, an in-depth colour textbook used at OCAD U in the first-year curriculum.
  • Cathie Sutton, assistant professor, recently completed her PhD in anthropology at York University.

Employment rate

According to the 2013 Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) survey results, those who indicated graduating from OCAD U in the last five years (2009 to 2013) with a degree in Environmental Design had a 93% employment rate, and 92% of those who were employed indicated their training at OCAD U was relevant to their current employment.

Note: SNAAP is an annual online survey administered to art and design alumni from participating institutions. The survey asks alumni about their experiences at the institution and post-graduation, with a focus on employment outcomes. OCAD U participated in 2011 and 2013. Over 1,400 OCAD U alumni participated across the two administrations of the survey.

Places of employment

Our students work in varied spatial design fields and firms; some examples include: Bruce Mau Design; Holt Renfrew (store designer); Starbucks (store design program); Yabu Pushelberg; Cecconi Simone; II BY IV Design; Gluck + (New York); Daniels Corp.; Diamond Schmitt Architects; Harir Pontarini Architects; B+H Architects; Zeidler Partnership Architects; Adamson Architects; Quadrangle Architects; NORR Limited; TIFF (design intern); Scotiabank Canada; Apple.

Many students have entered into master's programs for architecture, utilizing their Environmental Design degrees for their first architectural degrees. Others have gone on to study landscape architecture, theatre design and furniture design.

Program Course Offerings

For a complete list of courses for this program, please see the applicable program guides:

View Program Guides