The first vignette for the Schematic Design exam, administered by NCARB, is the Interior Layout vignette.  For this vignette, you will need to layout an interior space with furniture, partition walls and doors.

The trickiest thing about this vignette is the time in which to get it done.  You will have a lot of items to place in the building plan and you will likely need to change your design around as you work through the problem so flexibility is key.  Be sure to practice multiple times to make sure you are comfortable with how to use the NCARB software to satisfy the program requirements.

5 Awesome Tips For the Interior Layout Vignette

  1. Follow the program. If you’ve been following along with the last blog posts on the vignettes, this first tip should be expected by now.  Don’t fight it, just embrace the program and follow it closely.  Especially with the long list of items and complexities inherent in this exam.
  2. Place the space. The program will direct you to which spaces will require windows (remember you cannot add windows to the plan, so utilize the existing ones wisely).  You will also want to make sure to create rooms large enough to accommodate all the furniture that is required to be in each space.
  3. Be adjacent. There will likely be at least two spaces that require some form of adjacency to one another, where they need to be close to one another or if they need to have a door connecting the two spaces.  Be sure to maintain this program requirement and don’t over design the space.
  4. Swing your doors. When you place doors leading into each space, make sure the doors swing in the right direction as well as maintain any clearances required on both sides of the door.  Furniture items cannot be placed within these clear spaces, however door clearance areas may overlap one another if necessary.
  5. “Access” the furniture. The point of laying out furniture for this vignette is not to test your skills as an interior designer.  It is to see if you can follow a simple set of instructions and interpret a code correctly to maintain accessible clearances around doors, furniture and paths between spaces.  Make sure the clear space around each piece of furniture is maintained as required by the program.

The time on this exam is very tight so make sure you make every minute count.  It will be a bit hectic but just take a deep breath and follow your program notes and try not to over think the problem.  You’ll catch a little bit of a break when you move on to the second Schematic Design vignette (Building Layout) so think of that as your reward for getting through this vignette.

Just remember not to worry about your final “design”, as this isn’t a design exam, rather a test to see if you can layout a space according to a set of instructions.  Even if the furniture layout doesn’t look like anything anyone would ever actually put in a space, so long as you have your clearances around each piece, your design will look good in the eyes of NCARB.