Damnatio memoriae: Interiors and the art of forgetting

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This book chapter is centred around three short stories about three interiors: the Golden House of the Roman Emperor Nero, Westminster Hall during the trial of King Charles I in the English Revolution, and the boudoir of Marie Antoinette at the Petit Trianon in the French Revolution.

In each case, the short story is used to explore how the destruction, disruption, or vandalism of each these interiors was used as a political tool, to damn, if not erase, the memory of its chief occupant. This enquiry is framed by the ancient roman concept of Damnatio Memoriae – in which enemies of the state were punished by having every trace of them removed from public life.

This inquiry is designed to challenge histories of the interior that celebrate the creation, occupation, and curation of rooms, buildings, and objects; instead exploring how we can use the act of their destruction to understand how interiors are designed and used.

This inquiry builds on two parallel research outputs: The Memory Palace: A Book of Lost Interiors (London 2013) and the 2013 journal of IDEA: Interior Design and education Australia, entitled Unbecoming and guest edited by Hollis. Using stories initially investigate for the Memory Palace the paper places them into wider theoretical and historiographical context.

This paper was originally submitted, peer reviewed and accepted for the IDEA conference, held in Brisbane in 2012, and was subsequently accepted for publication in Occupation: Ruin, Repudiation, Revolution edited by Lynn Churchill and Diane Smith, and published by Ashgate in 2015.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOccupation: Ruin, Repudiation, Revolution
Subtitle of host publicationConstructed Space Conceptualized
EditorsLynn Churchill, Dianne Smith
Place of PublicationFarnham
PublisherAshgate Publishing
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781472440648, 9781315598680
ISBN (Print)9781472440631
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • architecture
  • Design automation


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