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Diagramming the interior

By Mark Taylor


Mark Taylor's new essay assesses the impact of the diagram on interior design from the late 19th century to the present. Taylor identifies the pop-cultural discourse of advice writing in both books and magazines as a starting point for his analysis. Drawing on diverse sources, his analysis focuses on texts relating to the dynamics of use and flexibility by Catherine Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Melusina Fay Peirce, Mary Haweis and Christine Frederick among others. The examples in these texts use the home, domestic housekeeping and kitchens as the sites and practices of intervention through which interior design innovations can be enacted. Taylor's analysis identified the innovations in both the social and the political aspects of space and the critique of static space behind these seemingly amateurish and innocuous texts. Identifying these contributions as early precursors of Modernism's open-plan and flexible, dynamic spaces, Taylor also interprets them with a critical concern for the oppositions and hierarchies that can exist in spatial design, and which are the hallmarks of recent Postmodern, phenomenological approaches to interior design and its theorisations. The progressive and subversive "paradigms for living" implicit in these diagrams can be argued to present a model of greater economic, social and political equality as well as representing a more balanced set of power relations in the home. Progressing through the 20th century to the present, Taylor's analysis shifts byond the dressed body and on to the more intimate rituals of the revealed body to further examine how diagrams of the interior, and the interior as a set of diagrams, are also mediators, sites and grounds for the design of social and sexual intimacy. Through a consideration of the link between design, indentity and intimacy (whether of the invisible, fashioned or sexualised body), the diagrms of interiors are reconfigured as radical and critical tools for an animate, material and emancipatory "redressing" of the balance between the body, identity, sexuality, gender, function, mis(use), aesthetics and the interior

Topics: 120103 Architectural History and Theory, 120106 Interior Design, Interior Design, Aesthetic Theory, Diagrams
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Inc
Year: 2009
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