The Master Interior Architecture: Research + Design, MIARD at the Piet Zwart Institute is a post-graduate international program that is part of the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. MIARD is a nationally accredited course with a focus on practice-based research and critical spatial strategies in the field of interior architecture. The two-year program (120 ECTS) is multidisciplinary and students earn a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree.

Research + Design
Research is multifaceted and self-directed in the program. The aim of practice-based research at MIARD is to develop the bodies of knowledge, contextual framework, resources, and methods of a student’s spatial practice, which is learned by doing research. The research activity requires a strong sense of curiosity, analysis, and diligence to formulate positions, and scrutinize assumptions and cultural systems. Students identify their own subject matter and methods to formulate a distinct area of study, design, and writing. They critically reflect and analyze issues within their field(s) of practice and across a broader social-cultural, historical, and theoretical context to make decisions about the impact of their work across broader (professional) communities.

The curriculum is multidisciplinary and integrated. We explore a range of topical themes, methods, tools, and formats to educate students to think creatively about practice and modes of production in the context of architecture, interiors, design, and art amid a theoretical, cultural and historical framework. Writing, reading, and dialogue are viewed as forms of research. While navigating media and technologies imaginatively as a way to materialize and circulate projects to broader audiences. These creative explorations influence and shape a student’s self-directed methodology. The first year of the course establishes relevant research and design skills that prepare students to work on their Graduation Project in the second year. All classes are taught in English. Curriculum modules include — Thematic Design Projects, Critical Strategies, Multiple Media, and Graduation Project.

Thematic Design Projects
Thematic Design Projects are practice-based projects that explore and open up themes relevant to the field of interior architecture and other forms of spatial and design practice. Themes circulate along multiple agencies, perspectives, and scales, from local issues to global changes, from objects to architecture and beyond. The structure offers students a framework for design, research and critical reflection. The theme serves as a conceptual platform to explore and dissect design and research practices and broader cultural societal issues. The sequence of thematic projects prior to the Graduation Project develops a student’s portfolio, identifying their areas of interest and practice in the professional field.

The projects are guided by professionals, who come from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds. Whether an architect, designer, interior architect, or other creative professional, these specialists offer advanced insights into contemporary design practices and issues relevant to the professional and cultural field. Events, lectures, excursions, and guest visits are planned in parallel with the project to provide students with a broader professional context.

Critical Strategies
Critical Strategies is composed of two modules: Theory + History and Research Methods. Both modules are scheduled in the first year of studies and are related to one another.

Theory + History: The module is a series of seminars exploring critical and analytical practices across disciplines within various forms of media. Writing, reading and dialogue are key activities in the course. The aim is to develop a student’s maturity and confidence to form ideas and creative vision, build opinions, and critically approach their area of interest. Attention is paid to the way interiors and the larger (built) environments have historically been shaped by the ideas of the designer, in addition, the social, economic, political, cultural, and technological factors are influential forces. Relevant media is assembled to offer a theoretical and critical backdrop to the theme and activity of the thematic design project. Pedagogical and learning activities vary from guest talks, film screenings, field trips to cultural events, and studio visits providing a stimulating platform for learning and debate.  

Research Methods: The research module develops a student’s ability to perform research as a multilayered activity and to formulate research intentions relevant to their area of interest and design work. Different research methods and techniques are illustrated through the use of case studies, visual research, archival sourcing, fieldwork, and discussions. Notable researchers from diverse fields are invited to share their perspectives and practice in the annual lecture series titled, MIARD Talks. The module is further supported with theoretical seminars on the politics and cultural history of research and its permutations, effectiveness, and current role in design practice. 

Multiple Media
Design projects rely on a multiplicity of media systems and formats. These systems are in flux as new technologies, tools and paradigms shift contemporary societies. In the Multiple Media module,  students investigate analogue and digital tools and current forms of visual and content methods to experiment and develop their design projects. Graphic design and communication are explored through film, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, social media, the Internet, exhibitions, and publications. Lectures explore the histories and role of architectural drawing and spatial representation as a form of practice, knowledge and critical research.

During the development of a project, material research is supported and given the space to experiment and materialize ideas. The Stations are production hubs equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, equipment and machinery that are located inside our building to prototype and experiment. The exploration of new developments and innovations in technology, materials, and crafts are activities in the Multiple Media and Thematic Design Project modules.

Graduation Project
The Graduation Project is a yearlong, self-directed exploration composed of a design project and thesis. By merging practice and theory in a multidisciplinary process, students develop a self-directed, critical viewpoint and construct a unique body of work that confronts existing spatial ideologies and expands notions of space. The thesis encompasses the theoretical framework of the design activity: the methods, contexts, questions, and critical and analytical approach of the student. The design project and thesis influence each other throughout the process, creating reciprocity between the two endeavors. During this time, students achieve a level of maturity and autonomy in their practice and professional network; in parallel, the work embodies its own identity with a distinct methodology that guides and illuminates a student’s voice and its broader socio-cultural impact. The final body of work is the accumulation of the two-year educational and professional trajectory at MIARD. 

The final projects are exhibited publicly during our annual graduation exhibition, which is planned with the Piet Zwart Institute and Willem de Kooning Academy graduation events in Rotterdam.

Professional Practices Program

The Piet Zwart Institute Masters courses offer a program intended to provide year-2 students with practical knowledge for their current and future professional practices. Each month, we’ll offer workshops that provide resources for transitioning from school to the professional realm and insights into practical issues faced by designers and artists. The program includes a range of info sessions, visits, and talks, each relating to research, funding bodies, designer and artist initiatives, residencies and post-academic institutions, work and life in the Netherlands, and community. In these sessions, you’ll gain insights and strategies to apply to funding applications, residency opportunities, finances, and other practicalities. Practical knowledge will be complemented by visits with practicing designers and artists engaging in discussions relevant to fields of research and practice and excursions will connect students with the broader creative fabric of Rotterdam and the Netherlands. The program is planned from February – May during the second year. 

Sessions cover topics including: 

  • Work and life in the Netherlands 
  • Funding bodies  
  • Writing for funding proposals 
  • Designer and artist initiatives  
  • Residencies and Post-Academic Institutions  
  • Project Management  
  • Ph.D./3rd cycle education

Faculty and Staff

Golnar Abbasi
Artist, Architect, Researcher, Publisher

Andrea Bagnato
Editor, Researcher

Architect, Designer, Researcher

Kris Dittel
Curator, Editor, Writer

Daphne Heemskerk
Graphic Designer

Zoraïma Hupkes
Course Coordinator

Ephraim Joris

Studio Ossidiana
Architect, Designer, Researcher

Olivier Otten
Media Designer

Alex Augusto Suárez
Course Director
Architect, Educator

Guests, Speakers & Studio Visits

Aristide Antonas, Kirsten Algera, Lara Almárcegui, Atelier NL, Suzie Attiwill, Nick Axel, Alessandro Bava, Bik van der Pol, Jan Boelen, Kevin Bray, Jeroen van Loon, Michiel van Iersel, JODI, Shumi Bose, Counterspace, Rachaporn Choochuey, Brendan Cromier, Koen Deprez, Clemens Driessen, Riet Eeckhout, Gabriella Fiorentini, Formafantasma, Tijs Gilde, Ernst van der Hoeven, Chris Kabel, Esjieun Kim, Robert Kroos, Yunjoo Kwak, Gabriel Lester, Giuseppe Licari, Natasha Marie Llorens, Arna Mačkić, Kuehn Malvezzi, Rianne Makkink, Ivan Lopez Munuera, Moad Musbahi, Martina Muzi, Bastiaan de Nennie, Simone C. Niquille, OS&OOS, Ethel Baraona Pohl, Anna Puigjaner, Random Studio, Erik Rietveld, Martin La Roche, Rafael Rozendaal, Space Popular, Hilary Sample, Tomas Saraceno, Niels Schrader, Cooking Sections, Ameneh Solati, Catherine Somzé, Penny Spark, Dima Srouji, Joshua G. Stein, Carolyn Strauss, Noman Studio, Random Studio, Point Supreme, Irene Sunwoo, Marina Otero Verzier, Thomas Vailly, Lois Weinthal, Mark Wigley

Students 2023–2025

Julia Banaszewska, Dzintars Berzinskis, Mailys Bonnet, Yu-Hsin Chang, Sjoerd De Jong, Iza Koczanowska, Martynas Nikitenka, Youbin Kim, Isabel Legate, Eric Stynes, Philipp Their, Sarasadat Zakernejad

Students 2022–2024

Silvia Elisa Bianchini, Mila Broomberg, Josephine Goverts, Nicole Jesse, Sungryul Jun, Anna Krikke, Alessandra Miano (visiting PhD student), Artemis Mitsiou, Vivien Vuong, Anna Maria Zuech


Isabella Fiorante, Ruth González García, Andreas Höfert, Daniel de Jong, Maya Kumari, Blise Orr, Pascale Ritter van de Kamp, Paulina Sycha, Julia Woch, Miriam Zanzinger

Sander Blomsma, Chiara Catalini, Anna Halek, Nadine Franz, Xuanhong Huang , Shiila Infriccioli, Ariane Jaccarini, Emma Kroos, Bahar Orçun, Shonali Shetty, Agnes Tatzber, Elien Vermoortel, Dominique Willis

Angelo Ciccaglione, Eva Garibaldi, Noelle Ingeveldt, Katharina Kasinger, Leila El-Kayem, Nury Lee, Gavin O’Leary, Rachel Refael, Denisse Vega De Santiago, Milena Sekulic,Maria Weis

Mirela Atanassova, Jitivi Banthaisong, Saskia de Fabritiis, Ingmar König, Young Ji Lee, Philippa Lorenzen, Ana Cecilia Sariol, Yiyang Liu, Julia Lowinska,Hedvig Maria Koertz Mikkelsen, Ricardo Nemeye Van Wijk, Vera Schneider, Mateusz Tkaczeń, Mao Zhang

Gill Baldwin, Ilonis Bairamidis, Carlijn Olde Beverborg, Katryna Ciurlionis, Liza Diekema, Beatriz Peró Giannini, A Lim Kim, Aleksandra Oszczak, Fillipo Tartaglia, Amelie Johanna Unger, Magdalena Wierzbicka

Claudia Cañizares,Günce Çavuşoğlu,Thomas Galvan, Theodora Kalamatianou,Chae-Reen Kong, Francesco Mottola, Chiara Raimondi, Livia Stacchini, Marta La Torre Rubio, Szu-Yi Wang, Christos Zogopoulos

Sofia Angelopoulou, Alejandra Calderón, Maria Duarte, Merle Flügge, Nancy Katri, Samira Müller, Agnese Pellino, Lisanne van der Ploeg, Bhoomchaya Prakongpetch, Nao Sakamoto, Matteo Sandigliano, Jadranka Sic Gamarra, Katarzyna Skorupska, Michaela Vilucchi

Alexandra Bicheler, Alice Bonicelli, Federica Dellisanti, Wojciech Gawronski, Noor Istiani, Tinka Jongerius, Noah Matsumoto, Lorena Rubio Toledo, Julia Schostak, Pawel Szubert, Kateřina Pražáková (exchange student), Julia Wirkner (exchange student)

Albina Aleksiunaite,Marco Busani, Iulia Circei, Kleoniki Fotiadou, Eglė Jacinavičiūtė, Natalie Konopelski, Devika Mirawitani, Sina Steiner, Bianca Yousef

Bo Baalman,Joanne Choueiri, Giulia Cosenza, Maddalena Gioglio, Ilias Markolefas, Nathalia Martinez Saavedra, Kine Solberg, Egle Tuleikyte

Anette Backe, Dominika Dyminska, Angelique Etman, Marie Furu Gade-Lundlie, Milda Liubinskaite, Micaela Nardella, Oana Tudose, Mariann Hildal

2010 – 2012
Wendi Dines, Carlijn Evers, Melina Ferreira, Alexandra Georgescu, Tamara Godschalk, Corinne Lamby, Eva Neirynck, Agata Pilip, Fleur Sabbe, Bart Sasim, Anastasia Togrouzidou, Pieter van der Wel

MIARD is located at Wijnhaven 61, Rotterdam, a modern building with a wide selection of academic facilities and resources, adjacent to the historic Willem de Kooning Academy building at Blaak 10. Our environment is a mix of studio-based spaces and seminar rooms to highly-equipped production facilities. The spaces offer a variety of areas to study, experiment, prototype, and present work. Each MIARD student is provided with a spacious studio space in the MIARD Studios where they work on their projects throughout the year.

In addition to the studio spaces, Stations are production hubs equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, equipment, software, hardware, and machinery to prototype and experiment. Material and technical research can be realized in the Stations, a space to explore new technological, materials, and crafts innovations. You can find the facilities and expertise to carry out your work here. Technical instructors and student assistants are present to support your production.

What can you do at a Station?
You take lessons and instruction while working on your projects and you can work independently at the stations. You can choose from a diverse range of instruction sessions and courses. This will allow you to familiarise yourself with particular technologies and equipment and to be able to use them in ways that are uniquely your own. You can learn techniques that interest you and develop the skills you are interested in or that complement the projects you have chosen.

A Station as knowledge-domain
Research is done at stations into new developments and innovations in the worlds of technology, art, and design. The application of new technologies is under constant scrutiny, and students learn to be aware of current technologies and how to make well-founded decisions on how to apply these technologies. The Stations are an environment in which making and doing – and of course thinking – are encouraged and supported. You do not only work with your fellow students and tutors from your major but also with students and tutors from other majors and years. Here you find state-of-the-art facilities and expertise to carry out your work: software, hardware, technology, equipment, and machinery.

The Stations:
Research Station
Drawing Station
Education Station
Fabric Station
Image & Sound Station
Interaction Station
Material Station
Publication Station
Business Station
Living Station

Willem de Kooning Academy, Rental A wide range of audiovisual equipment is available for students (at no cost), including cameras, projectors, hardware (tripods, stabilisers), microphones, etc. The full inventory of available equipment is available at