(Re)constructing Histories: A Short Historiography for Interior Architecture

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

Abstract / Description of output

Interior architecture is still, relative to its two constituents, a new discipline. Does this mean that it has no past? Does it possess a history before its ‘invention’? How can this history be told? This chapter will examine key problems in the historiography of interior architecture.
Once upon a time, the history of the interior started in the nineteenth century home, and was a tale of bourgeois comfort and display. On the other hand, the history of architecture was told as an heroic narrative of the evolution of mankind through ageless monuments.
Both histories assumed that the interior or the building was an integral artefact – capable of being designed by one author, at one time, in one ‘style’. The corresponding assumption was that the best of these artefacts stood outside time, and could and should be preserved for posterity unaltered.
Histories of interior architecture have tended to follow this model. For example, John Pile’s monumental history of interior design narrates the progress of style, tending to favour more architectural interiors over those of the ‘cushions and curtains’ variety.
But the practice of the alteration of buildings challenges these assumptions: who is the author of an altered artefact? When was it made? Can it be classified by any one style? Should such artefacts be preserved, or altered again? Are they artefacts at all?
These questions go beyond interior architecture to engage with all buildings which long outlive their makers, and every interior which disappears in a moment; and this chapter will discuss the ways in which the history of interior architecture can provide critical models for other histories.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Interior Architecture Theory Reader
EditorsGregory Marinic
ISBN (Electronic)9781315693002
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2018


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  • The Past in the Future Interior

    Hollis, E., 14 Apr 2019, The Future of Interiors. Harriss, H., Walker, K. & Brooker, G. (eds.). Royal College of Art

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

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