Peter Brandt, RA, NCIDQ certificate holder, is NYSID’s director of undergraduate programs. He came to the College in 1987 after 25 years of practicing interior design at Gensler, where he was vice president and managing principal of the New York office. Brandt received his MA in architecture from MIT, and an honorary doctorate from the New York School of Interior Design. He currently teaches Design Process, Thesis Preparation, and Thesis courses.
How is NYSID’s BFA program different from other interior design BFA programs?
There are really three types of programs. There are intensely theoretical programs that colleges focus on state-of-the-art and conceptual directions for interior design. There are the technical programs, which really teach the nuts-and-bolts of the trade as it exists. Our approach is a balance between theory and practice. We produce interior designers who can push the field of interior design forward.
How do the Basic Interior Design Certificate and the Associate’s degree build into the BFA? Education is a process of discovery. A lot of people don’t really know what they want to do and don’t fully understand what interior design is, yet they are drawn to the practice. Our Basic Interior Design program allows students to begin to understand what interior design is all about, to get their feet wet.
Many colleges require prospective students to produce a portfolio in order to be accepted into a BFA program. This makes no sense to me because high-school drafting courses are generally vocational. The BID program does not require a portfolio for admission. At the end of this one-year program, students will have a basic portfolio that they can apply to the BFA program. The BID program prepares student to work as assistants and salespeople in design firms. The AAS is enough to be certified in some states, but to become a true professional who can compete in the field of interior design, you need your BFA. All of the credits from the BID and AAS can be applied to the BFA.
Will you tell me a bit about what space planning entails for an interior designer?
The first part of any project is space planning, a two-dimensional floor plan that provides a functional layout. The exciting part of interior design is the next step, the three-dimensional planning that enables designers to project themselves into a space, to see the ceiling, the walls, the windows and furnishings and think about how the details of that space affect people emotionally. With three-dimensional planning, students can begin to answer questions such as “Can you get your work done in this space?” or “Can you get well in this space?” The ultimate goal of interior design is to produce interior environments that promote human happiness and excitement.
Which trends and movements in interior design have influenced your curriculum?
Technology is changing the field by leaps and bounds. Now, the layout programs produce very realistic interior environments that help you walk a client through your plans. We teach the technologies that practicing interior designers need to compete: Photoshop, SketchUp, Adobe InDesign, and Adobe Flash animation.
Sustainability is also an important part of our curriculum and it is woven into all of our classes. Evidence-based design—a field of study that uses data to inform design decisions—is becoming increasingly important to clients, especially in healthcare. We teach our students to work with data to solve particular problems in the interior environment.
What do you love about teaching?
After so many years of teaching studios, I still love to watch as a student gets it, as the light bulb goes off and understanding enables a student to create.