The Piet Zwart Institute houses the international Master programmes of the Willem de Kooning Academy at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (RUAS). Since 1999 it has been dedicated to promoting study and research in the fields of art, design and art education.

The Piet Zwart Institute is part of the Willem de Kooning Academy (WdKA), an art school that can be found right at the heart of the design city of Rotterdam. The Academy’s origin dates back to 1753, and now — with over 2,000 students — it is one of the largest art academies in the Netherlands, offering both Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes in Fine Art and Design. The Academy is part of the multi-sectoral Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (RUAS), a dynamic knowledge institute for higher professional education with a variety of programmes across all educational sectors and closely connected to developments in the metropolitan region of Rotterdam. Although part of the RUAS, Willem de Kooning Academy is autonomous in realising its goals and positioning its national and international profile.

WdKA’s Master’s programmes are positioned within the Piet Zwart Institute (PZI), which currently hosts a little over 120 students. Named after the pioneering Dutch designer Piet Zwart, who worked experimentally across different media and contexts, the Institute offers a rich combination of in-depth specialisation and interdisciplinary exchange within an intimate learning environment. The programmes of the Piet Zwart Institute are located in Rotterdam’s city centre, at Karel Doormanhof 45 and Wijnhaven 61. Students and staff come from around the globe and bring with them a variety of cultural influences and international connections. In addition to these international ties, the programme maintains strong local connections to the city of Rotterdam, its history and ever-changing urban environment.

The Piet Zwart Institute houses four full-time Master programmes, Interior Architecture: Research + Design (MIARD); Master of Arts in Fine Art and Design, which encompasses Fine Art (MFA) Lens-Based Media (LB) and Experimental Publishing (XPUB) and two part-time Master programmes, Education in Arts (MeiA) and Master Design. Through uniquely tailored curricula combining collective learning, individual tutorials, practice-based research and theoretical inquiry, the programmes educate professionals who have a critically reflective, innovative, questioning and imaginative approach to their work. Our graduates go on to not only establish themselves in their field, but also challenge and creatively define the parameters of their profession.

As an educational institute and cultural centre, the notion of ‘making public’ is core to the activities of PZI. Exhibitions, programming, conferences and publications on a national and international level are a means of sharing and expanding our research beyond the confines of academia. At the same time, the programme provides the very necessary speculative space for reflection and knowledge-building that is only made possible through an academic framework like the Piet Zwart Institute.