The book has chapters on fundamental concepts in interior design, the role of rooms, doors and windows in building space character, the responsibility of interior designers, changing space levels: stairs, cellars, balconies, ramps and towers as well as what different furniture colors, smells, details and ornaments mean. The book builds from history with the author covering interior design trends all the way from the ancient world, classical times, middle ages, the east, the renaissance, new world to the modern world. The author backs up his descriptions with lavish illustrations of Furniture, decorative arts and design for each civilization. The author in the book also illustrates how different world religions like Christianity and Islam have influenced interior design over the years.

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Reflections on 21st century culture Jan 29, The 21st Century Interior The interior is a fluid and often disputed territory claimed by architects, interior designers and decorators. While the disciplinary boundaries may have collapsed, the way we think about the interior itself has also changed.

While a common-sense definition of the interior as a contained or enclosed space seems straightforward, the interior is more elusive than this initial definition suggests. I want to begin this series of posts on the 21st century interior with three propositions that might challenge this initial definition.

Firstly, the interior is inherently ephemeral, as people are constantly moving objects around in interior spaces, changing the way the space is configured and thus how it operates. Secondly, the interior is in a constant state of flux due to its inhabitation by humans — that is, the interior is in some respect inseparable from the people who inhabit it.

Finally, our initial definition of the interior is further destabilized by the saturation of media culture and digital technologies, which affects our understanding of the interior in two ways — in the way physical spaces are reproduced and circulate as either two dimensional photographic or virtual digital images, and in the way our use of mobile digital devices change our perception of space.

The Interior: Beyond the Container To date, the few available histories of the interior have treated it as a subset of architecture, whereby enclosed spaces designed by well-known architects, interior designers, decorators or design firms, are analyzed as coherent, stable objects for study. More recently, Susan Yelavich, in the introduction to her book, Contemporary World Interiors, highlights the lack of critical attention given to interior design compared to architecture or other design disciplines.

Most of these spaces were designed by well-known designers, architects or design firms, and Yelavich makes no distinction between disciplines. This suggests that we may be beyond the point where the interior is considered simply a subset of architecture, and that the boundaries between disciplines in the 21st century are more fluid than in the last century.

While there is some attempt in both books to provide a little social context, many of the important social questions Who uses these spaces? How do they affect their inhabitants? How do they relate to their socio-economic context? John Pawson, Calvin Klein store, New York, The Interior: Space of Inhabitation If we are to think about the interior as more than an architectural container, we must firstly acknowledge that it is also a space of human habitation.

When we enter a building, we cease being merely its observer; we become its content. In photographs of contemporary interiors, the absence of people and their ephemera is remarkable. Even when a house is empty, someone has left a pair of dirty socks on the floor or dishes in the sink; even when the office is empty, someone has left a coffee mug or a stack of papers on the desk.

The interior is always contaminated by traces of human presence. The Interior: A Dynamic Process In the 21st century, our understanding of the interior is predominantly a visual one. This mediation of the interior by a flat, two dimensional image gives us a limited understanding of the space. What is also lost is the range of sensory phenomena beyond the visual — the sounds and smells or lack thereof , the touch and weight of materials.

By including these additional aspects of the interior — the temporal and the phenomenological — into an interior history, we can start to understand how the interior is more than simply an architectural container.

Even when considering contemporary interiors in books, magazines or websites, our contemporary culture of the spectacle privileges visual perception, suppressing the rich phenomenological experience when we interact with a space.

It may well be easier to admire a pure empty container, and such spaces uncontaminated by inhabitation are certainly easier to catalogue, classify according to style or function and analyze as data. Finally, beyond an architectural container filled with ephemera, the interior is also a dynamic space. It is dynamic in at least four senses: in the sense of people flowing in and out; in its interactions with the surrounding context; in its interactions with media culture the circulation of images ; and in its interactions with new technologies which includes the virtual realm from CCTV cameras to cellphones or mobile listening devices that alter our perception of space.

These dynamic aspects of the interior suggest that issues such as how we interact with and experience spaces seem more vital than simply cataloguing styles or functions of architectural containers. In this way, we may begin to consider how the interior affects psychological states or plays a role in shaping individual or collective identities through projections of lifestyles, class, gender or social values.

Contemporary New York Interiors My starting point for this series on interiors was a graduate course I taught at Pratt Institute between and which focused specifically on contemporary interiors in New York. For the series of case studies which I hope to post over coming months, I aim to examine some of the complexities of the interior sketched above through the analysis of concrete examples drawn from those classes. However, any discussions of the interior inevitably reach the issue of accessibility and all of the case studies to follow are spaces that are publicly accessible spaces that I have actually experienced and spent time in.

This necessarily limits the study to a narrow range of interiors. Despite the arguments about images of empty architectural containers above, the case studies will mostly be accompanied by images of these spaces as empty architectural containers, again given the difficulty gaining permission to photograph them. For those interested readers, I will include bibliographies for further reference, and if anyone has further ideas or readings please let me know — comments are most welcome.

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