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Interior Design School Profile: School of Visual Arts
Sep 17, 2013

With so many options to choose from, how do future interior design students select the right school? Editor at Large is introducing a series of profiles to help answer this question. With the series, we hope to offer a better understanding of what makes each school unique. The first in our series is the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in downtown Manhattan.

Widely considered one of the leading art schools in the U.S., SVA offers an undergraduate BFA in interior design, and accepts an average of 180 students from the 250 that apply each year. Students are able to learn to integrate current technology with the traditions of drawing and drafting. Faculty consists of architects and interior designers from top firms around the Big Apple such as Neville Lewis, IIDA, Gold Medal Winner; Illya Azaroff, AIA; and Amy Azzarito of Design Sponge.
Chair of the interior design program Jane Smith holds a degree in architecture and has worked on projects for Hermés, MTV Networks, Ralph Lauren, and the Brooklyn Bridge Park. This reporter chatted with Smith about SVA’s interior design program and what makes it unique.

Describe the school's make-up. What percentage of students is focused on interior design?
The School of Visual Arts is a comprehensive art school. We offer 11 undergraduate degrees and 21 graduate degrees, so our students run the gamut. BFA programs include Interior Design, Advertising, Animation, Cartooning, Photography, Illustration and more. Our graduate programs range from Fine Arts, Computer Art and Design to Social Documentary Film, Design for Social Innovation and Fashion Photography.
What are some key elements of your interior design program?
The program is a CIDA-accredited with a focus on commercial interior design for urban living.
So, where does residential design fit in?
All project types are important and have a place at School of Visual Arts Interior Design (SVAID). During the course of the four years, students have the opportunity to design single family and multi-family residential projects along with a variety of commercial, institutional and not-for-profit projects. For their senior thesis projects, students select a project to explore and develop that is of specific interest to them. Projects can range from a single-family residence to a large, complex community center. The students are guided throughout the four years by faculty who inspire them to be flexible and see the possibility in every project type.
What makes your program different from other competitive design schools?
The Interior Design program at SVA has a 1:3 student-to-professional faculty ratio. We’re located in the heart of the New York City interior design community and part of an internationally recognized art school with all of the associated advantages.
How has the program evolved over time?
The program has moved with the interior design industry at large to address issues of sustainability, workplace strategy, human behavior and interaction along with the professional practice of interior design and design creativity.
What are your efforts/marketing strategies to attract students?
Our students and faculty are active in the design community, bringing recognition to the school. We maintain a strong social media presence and reach out to schools and professionals across the country through visits, publications and direct mailer campaigns.
Are there any famous or notable alumni who graduated from the school?
Our alumni have had diverse career trajectories working within major architecture/interior design firms such as Gensler and HOK, and in corporate facilities departments such as Google and MTV. Many have started their own firms, including Thomasin Foshay (Foshay Design) and Raphael Tommasino. HGTV’s Genevieve Gorder is an SVA alumnus (1998 BFA Graphic Design). We are extremely proud of our alumni, what they’ve accomplished and what they continue to accomplish and contribute.
What are some of the most popular classes that students choose to take?
The curriculum at SVAID is varied, comprehensive, creative and professionally stimulating. The courses that increase visual communication skills including hand sketching and rendering, computer rendering and design build are always courses that creatively driven art-based designers gravitate towards. They are often surprised to find that the professional and technical courses such as professional practice and building materials can be just as rewarding.
Are students required to do internships or field work with designers and industry professionals? Does the school help them make these connections? 
Internships are not required but they are encouraged. Many of our students intern at the top interior design and architecture firms, corporations, and leading industry manufacturers in New York City. The Department and SVA actively assist students in obtaining internships.
What is your success rate for students landing jobs after graduation? Do you have a career development center that aids them in this process?
We have close to 100% job success rate. This is due to the extensive exposure that our students get to industry professionals during their school years, as well as the assistance on preparing resumes and portfolios—not to mention the high caliber of their work! Along with the department administration and faculty involvement in job placement, the students have access to SVA Career Development, a great resource for students and alumni.
Is there anything new you're rolling out for the fall semester, or bigger plans for the future?
Revit classes are a new addition in the last year. Also, we’re adding a 3D printer to our already impressive large-format and color printers and plotters. And our popular guest lecture series, Current Issues in Interior Design, is getting bigger and better each year! It’s too early to announce the fall lineup, but watch for updates at sva.edu.
Request information at admissions@sva.edu to learn more about the undergraduate interior design school at SVA.

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