Interior Architecture

Mariann Drell. Visual from Master's degree work

We teach interior architecture on Bachelor as well as Master level, both curriculums in Estonian, but of course we welcome visiting students via the Erasmus Programme. At the moment, our international MA programme in English does not accept applications. 

Immediate space

Interior architecture works  with the space that most directly surrounds a person. Here, students will learn how to create inspiring, flexible, economical and contemporary spaces for people at any stage of their life, from childhood to old age.

The best space is built from the inside out

A good space is born from a sharp sense of context, a thorough knowledge of the material and strong technical skills, but also knowledge in the areas that support the creation of space – anthropology, spatial psychology, spatial semiotics. Interior architects are sensitive and attentive to both cultural and spatial contexts, as the best space is born from the inside out, stemming from the interior architect’s knowledge and technical skills as much as their ability to ask the right questions and find inspiration from what exists.

Community engagement projects

Interior architecture students are already working on projects that offer inspiring spatial solutions to different groups in society and connect communities. Graduates include creators of outstanding interiors, but also creators of space that create personal environments by combining architecture, design and technology.

Constantly changing field

The field of interior architecture is always reinventing itself, as the environment and people’s needs are constantly changing. Some of the trends influencing the spatial needs of people are

  • global urbanisation;
  • jobs and work becoming more mobile;
  • people’s lives becoming longer (but also in many cases more lonely);
  • smarter environments on both big and small scale;
  • climate and health related crises.

These and many other major trends are affecting the work of tomorrow’s interior architects, which is why the Department of Interior Architecture at EKA teaches students to design rooms that meet people’s rapidly changing needs, whether its offices, homes or public spaces – but rather than working on a specific type of room, we solve problems for users in different spaces.

Interior architecture Bachelor’s programme

Completion of the BA curriculum in interior architecture takes 3 years, the study is full-time and takes place largely in Estonian, but also in English under the guidance of foreign tutors. The best bachelor’s degree portfolios and exhibition projects have born from a local context, inspired by the Estonian spatial traditions and a true sense of the local world of thought. Student projects born here might have their roots in Estonia, but they tend to spark interest much more widely – it is their locality which makes them engaging. Students are taught by a mix of Estonian interior architects, architects, designers and international tutors from design schools around the world. Within the framework of study projects, students gain experience from other disciplines taught at EKA, which is especially important, because interior architecture is almost always teamwork.

Interior architecture Master’s programme

The master’s degree in interior architecture is attractive in several ways: on the one hand, it can be seen as an integrated extension to bachelor’s degree studies, and on the other hand, it can be a response to a desire to return to the academy whilst still maintaining a professional career. The latter can be seen as a trend among master students.

The master’s theses of the department are increasingly looking for solutions to real problems; over the last three to four years, it has become clear that the work has become more substantive and exploratory. The master’s thesis has developed into a hybrid of space-related designs, requiring a systematic and at the same time creative approach from the author.

The master’s degree in interior architecture is accompanied by an open and interdisciplinary studio culture. The aim continues to be to formulate the identity of spatial creation. Master’s projects show the extent to which the meaning of (indoor) space has expanded and become more multi-layered today: it deals with the object-item, the functions of space, typologies, as well as indoor and public space. An interesting side effect is the awareness of the border between indoor and outdoor space and, at the same time, its conscious avoidance. Acting in border areas and searching for new opportunities is becoming the norm – this is confirmed by the fact that all the topics, research questions and project solutions developed from the Master’s studio are united by the interest in expanding the boundaries of the interior design profession.

Currently, our master’s studies take place in two directions on a studio basis. The studios are distinguished by the themes of the projects and master’s theses undertaken during the year and the research methodology chosen, reflecting the personal interests and goals of the students and the creative and research background of the supervisors. Within the studios, space and the issues arising from the creation of space are raised, formulated and analysed.

At the heart of the spatial interventions proposed in the master ‘s projects is a person, ie a user – an individual or a social group with their own needs, values ​​and goals. The nature, scope and justification of spatial interventions are confirmed through research carried out in the course of the work, the main goal being the maximum harmonisation of theory and practice.

The imaginary axis of the division into studios is the context, which is denoted by the word pair environment / object. In relation to space and spatial problems, such a division can be conditionally described as the direction of movement defined by the choice of the starting point – on the one hand in the context of the environment (outside) and on the other hand in the context of the object (inside).

As always, the final content of the studios is the result of a mutual bounce of opinions and ideas between students, faculty and their diverse opinions. The studio is on the one hand a round table and a space for experimentation, but as successful master’s projects are at stake, it is also a place to share experience, advice and trust.

More info:

Interior Architecture Department

News and events

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New digital publication: Interior Architecture Department from a bird’s eye

Our new digital newspaper is perfect to get an overview of all the courses and masterclasses that took place over the last academic year at our Interior Architecture department! Though in Estonian, the digital newspaper is still a great source of information if you want to see what is being taught at our department - the fields covered and approaches taken. For each of the courses/classes ...
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Spatial Research Journal SISU—LINE #5 ACTUAL now available digitally!

To make sure you can read up on what's new in the field of spatial research from the comfort of your own home and stay safe, we've now made spatial research journal SISU—LINE 5 'Tegelik /Actual' available digitally!  SISU—LINE is a publication that unites practitioners and theorists in the field of space in order to create practice-based and research connections between disciplines dealing ...

Semele Kari – laureate of the Vello Asi Student Prize 2020

The 2020 Vello Asi Student Prize laureate Semele Kari is a graduate of the Estonian Academy of Arts bachelor’s programme in interior architecture and is currently continuing her research into space while working toward her master’s degree in the same field.  Semele likes to draw connections between her professional and private life, to experiment and provocate. Drawing on personal experience, ...
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HOT OFF THE PRESS: Magazine SISU—LINE #5 Actual!

The 5th issue of the spatial research magazine SISU—LINE is based on the 2019 interior architecture symposium SISU_“Tegelik /Actual”. The topics covered at the symposium are complemented by visual essays on the inspiring Bachelor's and Master's degree projects by EKA interior architecture students, Elis Rumma and Mariann Drell, respectively on the topics of on sleep architecture and gender ...

Specialty project: Small building, 2020 / KOOS

In the last two weeks of August 2020, the first-year interior design students of EKA worked in the twin city of Valga-Valka, erecting a pavilion KOOS along the Pedeli dam lake. The pavilion is an airy and fragile object with a network structure. TOGETHER is a space and wood experiment, the completion of which gave students a good opportunity to experiment with where the bending and breaking ...

Specialty project: Small building, 2019 / RÜHT

RÜHT is a multi-purpose shelter that offers a spot to hide from the wind and the rain or snow, find cover for an ascetic night in the woods or provides a picnic area for daytime hikes and chance to a pleasantly stretch for those on a longer hike. RÜHT was inspired by a fallen tree, the length of which provided an excellent chance to rest your back, and from which the view of the sky offered a ...
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Specialty project: Educational space 2020 / Student project: Loviise Talvaru, Ann-Katriin Kelder

The aim of the studio for interior architecture students of the 2nd year of bachelor’s studies, which deals with the educational space, is to design an interior architectural solution on the example of a room type corresponding to one level of education (for example, pre-school education – kindergarten). In the process, students explore theories of learning, teaching, learning, and education, ...
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Specialty project “Seating”, 2020 / student work: Triin Kampus

The annual specialty project “Seating” of the first-year students of the Department of Interior Architecture and Architecture at EKA opens the door to the world of furniture, asking how much – or how little – material is actually needed to provide sufficient support for the human body. Students are only allowed to use small pieces of plywood, wooden sticks and glue to develop and complete ...