Master in Interior Architecture

M A I A – Master of Arts in Interior Architecture

Decentring the Human

From simple greenhouses to botanic facilities and from data centres to automated interiors, never before in history has architecture produced so many interiors for the non-human, challenging disciplinary notions on tectonics, light, comfort and entire regulatory frameworks. Once designed for and with the human, contemporary interiors have instead become exponentially complex materialisations where the politics of our present moment are played out. Ultimately, who are they for?

Titled Decentring the Human, the full-time, four-semester Master of the Arts in Interior Architecture (MAIA) at HEAD – Genève is a research-oriented graduate programme exploring the entanglements between interior spaces, environments and media through successive decentralisation: from the old totalitarianism that humans have built amongst themselves for centuries (inclusivity) to their position in relation to non-humans (ecology), and finally their relation to machines and their output, both real and virtual (technology).

The programme calls for a vision where the non-human will be central, empowering the agency of traditionally obliterated actors. This involves not only solutions to environmental challenges, but above all the study of the ecosystemic relations between non-living and living organisms (including humans) which is crucial for the discipline of interior architecture.   

Mediated Representations
MAIA offsets drawing as the dominating medium for representing interiors, envisioning any form of media as potentially architectural, from writing to photography, drawing to cinema. The programme explores contemporary interiors as platforms of ‘expanded media’, examining their belonging to different places and temporalities, whether physical or virtual, close or distant, ultimately disassociating courses and studios from any a priori form of representation. 

Professionalisation and Network
MAIA students regularly work in cooperation with designers on professional projects carried out together with institutions, leading to a professional career of international impact. Similarly, the department is visible at international exhibitions and on platforms, such as the Salone del Mobile in Milan or Design Parade in Toulon. The programme includes permanent cooperation with the Joint Master of Architecture (JMA) of the schools of Geneva, Fribourg and Burgdorf, and with École Camondo in Paris. The 2022-2024 programme will actively collaborate with Volume Magazine.

* MAIA enables its graduates to apply for registration on the Professional Register of Swiss Architects (REG A, Interior Architecture).


The programme is structured over 4 semesters:

MAIA 1 – Glossaries: A-, In-, Post-, More-than-Human Interiors
MAIA 1 explores the glossaries that have come to characterise our contemporary time. From the Anthropocene to the Capitalocene, and exploring endless iterations of the Post-, In-, A-, More-than-Human, this semester envisions a new environmental thinking that removes the possibility of understanding interior architecture, and the human, as autonomous and self-determined. This research-oriented semester is shaped by four autonomous studio tracks that deal with themes of Animals, Plants, Machines, and Humans.

MAIA 2 – Assemblages: Ecosystemic Interiors
MAIA 2 bypasses traditional dualisms between architecture for human/non-human, focusing on the entanglements between organisms and the interior environments with which they interact. This semester applies concepts related to ecological and computational fields such as biodiversity, metapopulations, trophic levels or the metaverse, among others, to reposition interior architecture as a discipline. This semester is practice-oriented, articulated around a core studio shaping the classes’ presence at the Salone del Mobile, in Milan.

MAIA 3 – Iterations: Endless Decentralisations
MAIA 3 celebrates interior architecture as a field of emancipation of any form of species domination or spatial, physical and virtual centrality. Students produce endless iterations and samples of interiors in the plural, developing their own glossaries on the interconnected condition of the technologies, networks and ecologies that define contemporary interiors. 
The semester is research-oriented, focusing on the core competencies of writing, editing, curating and research. Students set up their individual graduation track which will be further developed in semester 4. 

MAIA 4 – Diploma: Decentring-the-Human
The final semester of MAIA is centred around the elaboration of the final graduation project of each student. A core studio shapes the semester, complemented by core-skills seminars that will help shape students’ post-graduate life.

* The language of the MA is English, with some classes in French.

International Community 
MAIA students work with an international community of interior designers, architects, artists, curators, and experts from different disciplines, constructing interior spaces that are articulated with the parallel narratives of magazines, films, exhibitions or publications. This transversal approach creates an arena of experimental conditions that proves challenging for teachers, students and real users.

Lecturers, speakers & guests include: 
Vera Sacchetti, Design Critic and Curator. Driving the Human. Basel
Youri Kravtchenko, Principal at YKRA Interior Design. Geneva
Philippe Rahm, Principal at Philippe Rahm Architectes. Paris
Institute for Postnatural Studies. Centre for Postnatural Experimentation, Madrid
Leonid Slonimskiy, Principal at Kosmos Architects. Moscow
Lucia Pietroiusti, Curator on Art and Ecology. London
Marina Otero, Architect and Curator. Eindhoven
Bas Princen, Artist and Photographer. Zurich
Nicolas Nova, Anthropologist of technology. Geneva
Lilet Breddels, Director of Volume Magazine. Rotterdam  
Andrea Dalmas, Principal at Ciszak Dalmas Interior Design. Madrid, Hong Kong
Line Fontana, Principal at Fagart & Fontana Architectes. Paris
Ana Luisa Soares, Principal at Fala Atelier. Porto
Ahmed Belkhodja, Principal at Fala Atelier. Porto   
Simon Husslein, Principal at Husslein Design. Zurich
Kai Reaver, Digital Technologist and Theorist. Oslo 
Michael Jakob, Architecture and Landscape Theorist. Geneva
Arjen Oosterman, Editor of Volume Magazine. Rotterdam

Head of Department
Javier Fernandez Contreras

Scientific deputy 
Valentina De Luigi

Camille Bagnoud
Damien Greder
Cécile-Diama Samb
Phi Nguyen



Degree awarded: 
Master of Arts HES-SO in Interior Design