Going Green with Sustainable Building & Interior Design Practices

written by Georgia Schumacher 16 April 2014

Green Building and Design PracticesSustainable design is in. It’s being practiced throughout residential and commercial building design. It’s being talked about at interior design schools across the country. So what’s all the buzz about?

What's Important in Sustainable Design

The goal of sustainable design is to mitigate negative impact on the environment of residential and commercial development—and to reduce the effects of such development on those who will live and work there. In fact, current regulations require new federal facilities to be constructed following rigorous environmental design standards. It is likely that more regulations governing the construction and interior design of residential and commercial structures will emerge as the need for a truly sustainable future becomes ever more urgent.

Several aspects of environmental design must be considered when executing sustainable design projects, including:

• Alternative energy components
• Natural, functional landscaping and gardening
• Passive solar heating
• Residential resources and materials
• Environmentally compatible building practices
• Responsible waste management

Existing Pilot Programs & Sustainable Materials

New York City recently initiated a pilot program where municipal organic waste from city restaurants and residents will be collected and converted in to methane gas which will be used, in turn, to provide power to Manhattan facilities—thus offsetting reliance on carbon-based fuels. City officials involved with this project, such as Ron Gonen, NYC’s deputy Commissioner for Recycling and Sustainability (1), foresee many important advantages:

• Reduction of odors from organic materials at waste management facilities
• Reduction in the population of potentially disease-carrying vermin
• A 20% reduction in landfill waste
• A savings of $100 million in taxpayer money per year

As this and similar programs (like one already underway in San Francisco) take root, those involved with residential design, interior design, environmental design, etc. can expect demand for creative, innovative ways of reconfiguring existing structures or executing entirely new developments. This will likely involve the use of sustainable building materials, including some of the items listed below (2):

Wool Bricks—Developed in Spain and Scotland, these innovative bricks are non toxic, sustainable, and locally sourceable. They are even as much as 37% stronger than standard bricks.

Solar Tiles—These roofing tiles are entirely integrated with the building structure thus enabling them to provide protection from the elements while also providing solar electricity to serve the electricity needs of the building occupants.

Paper Insulation—This sustainable design material boasts fire-retardant and insect resistant characteristics. The components are simply recycled paper and cardboard and chemicals such as boric acid, borax, and calcium carbonate to provide safety from fire. These chemicals are not associated in any way with deleterious health issues.

Continuing the Conversation

Interior design school students or professionals with relevant roles in this area may wish to incorporate their expertise in various Earth Day celebrations held in municipalities across the U.S. Such events provide valuable opportunities for those who live in affected communities to learn about what sustainable design elements are available to them. These conversations can also provide designers with insight into current market trends and conditions that will impact their projects moving forward.

Interested in building your knowledge and skills in interior design? Schools such as The Art Institute offer online and ground campus programs that can prepare you for careers in interior design and more.

Read More

(1) Composting On The Way Up In New York City High-Rises
(2) 5 Sustainable Building Materials that Could Transform Construction

5 Ways the Online Library Can Help You Succeed

written by Editor Georgia Schumacher 14 April 2014

Library Book

Written By Guest Blogger
Audra Deemer, Manager of Library Services

1. Find reputable and scholarly resources. Though you and your art school colleagues can quickly find many resources on the web by using popular search engines like Google, you will often find an overwhelming number of results with no easy way to narrow them down. Most information on the web is not evaluated for accuracy and some sites may even ask you to pay to view the content. The library databases have done the hard part of the research process for you. Only credible sources from trusted publishers are included in the library databases and most are available in full text—all at no charge to you!

2. Receive help from librarians 7 days a week. You can get in contact with the librarians through email, phone, and the Ask Us service. You’ll find the Ask Us tab on the Online Library homepage. Use this service to find answers to frequently asked questions even during the hours librarians are not available. You can also submit your question to be answered by email. We have extended hours to help meet your research needs.

Sunday: 12 PM-2 AM ET
Monday-Thursday: 8 AM-2 AM ET
Friday: 8 AM-11 PM ET
Saturday: 10 AM-11 PM ET

3. Attend live online workshops and set up research consultations. Webinars are held monthly and include information on how to use specific databases, tours of the online library, and research-related topics specific to art school students. If you can’t attend, you can watch the recordings on your own time by going to the Help & Tutorials page of the Online Library. If you need one-on-one time with a librarian, you can find and sign up for open research consultations on the calendar found on the Online Library homepage. You can also contact the librarians directly by email or phone to set up an appointment that fits your schedule. We even use a web conferencing tool to share our screens so you can better see how to use the resources.

4. Access more than just articles and eBooks. Though we have thousands of articles from journals, magazines and newspapers and full text eBooks on a vast number of subjects covered in art schools like ours, we also have resources for software tutorials, career information, videos, fashion reports and trends, company and industry reports, data and specs on materials, and market research! Find databases like Digital Tutors, Stylesight, Learning Express Library, Material ConneXion, and much more on the Industry Info page of the Online Library.

5. Get Modern Language Association (MLA) formatted references. Many library databases provide a citation tool that generates the MLA reference for you. Look for a Cite tool when accessing the databases. Be sure to verify the accuracy of the reference with your MLA guide. If you need help, contact the library!

Contact our Online Librarians at aionlinelibrary@aii.edu and 888-318-3440.

Stay in touch with Alumni Connections

written by Georgia Schumacher 9 April 2014

Alumni ConnectionsGraduating soon? Already a successful alumni? Find out how using The Art Institutes Alumni Connections can benefit you! This is your chance to

• Network with fellow alumni
• Research companies
• Search for job opportunities

Do all this in just one place! Tap into the nationwide network of our art school alums with Alumni Connections, an exclusive, easy-to-use resource that takes just five minutes to join and is available at no charge to you.

What’s in it for you

• Connect with alumni in creative professions across the country and stay in touch with fellow grads from your art school

• Post your resume and search for resumes added by other alumni

• Keep informed of alumni news and events

• Research employers looking for our art school grads and find job openings in creative fields

• Share your story. Tell us how you’ve used your creativity in your personal and professional life since graduating from art school. Let us know what you’re excited about in your career and your profession at-large. We can share your story many different ways - our national alumni e-newsletter - our national website - and to students locally, but you have to tell it!

• Access a variety of career resources and tools, including a resume builder, interview preparation, industry news, company profiles, career advice, our Alumni Lunch Chat Archive, and more!

Sign up today

Are you a graduate (or will be soon) of one of our art schools? Register now at www.alumniconnections.com/ArtInstitutes – it takes five minutes for a lifetime of valuable connections!

Join us for these April events!

written by Georgia Schumacher 2 April 2014

Calendar iconYou might guess that as an art school offering fully online programs we wouldn’t have many events, but in reality we have a full calendar this month! Driven by our active student and faculty community, April brings yet another month of exciting events for our art school students at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division. Register for events and stay in the know with what’s happening by checking the Events calendar in Campus Common!

Here’s a quick look at what’s on the schedule this month!

Graphic Design Career Series, Starting 4/3/14

This is our seventh annual Graphic Design Career Series. This year, the series features 5 top industry professionals and designers discussing critical industry topics as well as their creative inspiration. The discourse provides students with valuable insight to contemporary professional practice and career preparation. Read more >

IGDA Meetings, Tuesdays & Thursdays

Our student chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) typically meets twice a week and is a great opportunity for students interested in game design and development. Learn more about our group and discover 10 reasons why you should join in this post from September!

Orientation Class – Live Webinar, Weekly in April

Take part in a meet and greet webinar for the Orientation Class. This session will be used to introduce your facilitator and demonstrate classroom navigation functions and features of the Campus Common.

Learn to Draw: Perspective Drawing, 4/8

This event is recommended for students in FND113 Perspective Drawing and FND110 Drawing. Watch demos and get your questions answered about one, two, and three-point perspective, as well as other perspective drawing techniques.

Illustrator Bootcamp I: Basic Designing, 4/14

This event is recommended for students in FND111 Color Theory and FND112 Fundamentals of Design. Topics include basic workflow, creating and editing basic shapes, and an introduction to color, fills, and strokes.

Online Tutoring Services Introduction, 4/22

This brief webinar will introduce students to our on-demand, online tutoring options. We will demonstrate how students can access our online tutoring, discuss the different tutoring categories available, and cover other important details about this convenient, complimentary resource.

To register or view our full calendar, current students can visit the Events page in the Campus Common today! (From your Campus Common home page, select Events in the Campus Life dropdown menu.)

Interested in attending an art school and taking classes from your own home? Learn more information about The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division today.

How to Prepare for a Career in Interior Design

written by Georgia Schumacher 27 March 2014

Interior DesignAspiring designers with a flair for color, an interest in fashion trendsm, and the skills to produce unique styles may wish to pursue an interior design degree. These degree programs involve a great deal of detail-oriented coursework that immerses participants in the history, theory, and application of many design concepts and prepares them to apply those concepts in the real world.

Job Details

Prospective designers can expect to work with all areas of interior style including colors and textures, fabrics, lighting and furniture design, and placement. Such concepts are applied in a variety of settings from functional "bare bones" constructions such as offices to luxury hotels, homes, and apartments.

Designers may work with architects and builders as well as structural and mechanical engineers to visualize how a space will look and function. They meet and collaborate with clients to develop design visions and set goals for the desired layout as well as determine how long projects will take. This provides the basis for sketching preliminary plans, choosing materials, finalizing designs and applying the style to the finished space. A client follow-up is usually part of the process to ensure satisfaction.

Required Skills

Those desiring to become interior designers should possess the following skills:

• Familiarity with past and present design trends
• Ability to work well with others and collaborate to complete projects
• Artistic ability and a creative mindset
• Attention to detail that allows visualization and execution of design concepts
• Problem-solving skills that can be applied to a variety of challenges


Blue roomInterior designers may start their career paths with two- or four-year programs. Each involves important coursework that covers general education and business as well as design. General education courses may include art history as well as writing, communications, general history, and additional social science courses. These provide the necessary foundation for further coursework and for working with clients in a real-world setting.

Preparing to work with clients also requires a solid understanding of business skills and operations. Courses in sales and merchandising, business math and budgeting, entrepreneurship, and professional practice may all appear on a syllabus for interior design degrees.

The main body of design coursework covers a wide variety of topics and skills. Students are commonly expected to take classes in such diverse areas as architecture, construction documents and blueprint reading, building and structural systems and understanding municipal codes. These practical courses ensure that designers understand the concepts behind interior construction and will be able to look at the plans for a new structure and visualize designs for rooms that are not yet built. Specific areas of study such as color and design concepts, design research, interior finishes, textiles, interior lighting, and design drawing integrate with this foundation to provide the knowledge necessary for students to succeed in the field when they graduate.

Computer-aided design, or CAD, is a very common course for aspiring interior designers. Computers are a big part of just about every profession and are valuable tools for turning the mental image of a design into a reality. Students learn how to use a computer to make two-dimensional sketches of their designs. Further coursework in other areas will likely include three-dimensional design to aid in bringing interior styles to life.

To learn how to plan out a design in a specific space and apply it to both residential and commercial areas, students will take courses in spatial planning. This includes learning to understand the architectural concepts behind building design.

Courses in furniture and lighting design focus on the internal elements of rooms. Students gain an understanding of how to construct furniture pieces and use them as design features. Some furniture courses include the fundamentals of furniture engineering and manufacture. Coupling this with lighting design allows students to visualize the effects of lighting on an interior space and learn to use different types of lighting fixtures to create specific effects with light and color.

Program Length

Students can expect to complete 45-60 credit hours of specific design training as well as 15 hours of general education for an associate's degree. Bachelor's programs require around 51-98 hours of design work and 50 hours of general education. Most universities allow students to transfer from a two-year to a four-year program as associate's degrees typically include the necessary background for continuing design education.

Having a two-year degree can also open up the opportunity for graduates to work as assistant designers. This offers practical on-the-job training that hones skills and gives beginners an idea of what they can expect to encounter when working on their own. Internships provide similar experience that can be invaluable to designers who are just starting out.


Designers may choose to focus on a particular area of design as they study and practice. Common options include:

• Kitchen and bath design with specialized programs provided through schools accredited by the National Kitchen & Bath Association

• Universal design, which focuses on accessible renovations

• Lighting design for homes, offices and public areas such as museums and theaters

• Sustainable design with a focus on efficiency including energy and water conservation and the use of sustainable materials

• Working in home furnishing stores to help customers choose the right styles and designs for their homes

• Teaching in a design school

Licensing and Registration

Interior Design drawingAfter schooling is completed, some states require designers to become licensed. This is usually done by taking a state-approved test such as the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam. This allows designers to designate themselves as registered. To take the exam, applicants must have a bachelor's degree and at least two years of supervised experience working in the field.

Design students should check the laws in their state to ensure that the scope or title this particular profession isn't restricted. Some states will allow both licensed and unlicensed designers to work while others have laws about what titles can and can't be used. Certain states won't allow designers to work at all unless they've passed the licensing exam.

Careers Prospects

The job market for interior designing is projected to grow at least as quickly as other occupations: 13% between 2012 and 2022. This offers many opportunities for hard-working students and those who have already obtained a degree. There are always new buildings going up and companies and organizations are frequently looking to remodel. High-income areas with wealthy residents may provide some of the best prospects for those looking to work in specialized design services as this client base has the income necessary to hire a designer to decorate their homes or apartments.

Pursuing an interior design degree requires hard work and dedication to the education process as well as a willingness to apply oneself to practical fieldwork. Those who enjoy collaborating with others to create beautiful interior spaces will do well in this profession. As trends grow and change, some may wish to return to school to update their knowledge and remain competitive in the field of interior designs.