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Interdisciplinary approach to design and culture in interior participatory art

It is a common expectation for a facility to be functional and maintainable and coordination between the building interior and the furnishing to be achieved (Ching, 2007). For this to be realized, Kopec (2006) argues that human environmental ergonomic and psychological needs should be  meet to provide optimum aesthetic effect in every interior design and architecture project. Some of the disciplines that have to be put together in interior design are culture and design work. Designers therefore act upon interior design spaces through a multidisciplinary combining design and culture to give shape and form to materials and unify them into a captivating design. The aim of this essay is to derive a position on the interdisciplinary approach of design and culture to interior architecture theory. This will be done by literature review and reference to three projects in particular the blur building, Fun Palace by Cedric Price, and rear window.

According to Weinthal (2011, 11) interior design is represented as being of an interdisciplinary nature that consists of a dialogue formed from architecture, film, fashion, art, history, engineering, literature, philosophy, photography, product design, and textiles, all which can be argued to be part and parcel of culture. These different disciplines are put together in a structure based on interior theory modeled from physical construction and the resulting phenomenal experiences to make up interior, which is done through design by an architect. The framework of this construction originates from what is inherent in producing interiors but not from pre-existing structure that are found in architectural history. This perspective has however been criticized by some who do not base their arguments on the history of interior design and they reference interior design to alternative perspectives. Weinthal therefore argues that, it is important that any reader in interior design should rely on the intangible so as to shape the tangible and do so productively.

As Bishop (2012, 36) states, interior design can be viewed as a spectacle, which makes reference to history, which is an element of a people’s culture. Even though this moves with the time, hence attaining the term ‘modernity’ it constantly makes reference to the past while at the same time seeking to address the needs of the present. Interior design over time has been customized so as to fit in to the needs of the users, but this can still be connected to a peoples (users) past in terms of traditions, culture, and events. For example, interior culture of an African-American can be well distinguished with that of an Asian-American primarily because of the cultural backgrounds specific to each.

In the rear window project by Steve Jacobs in Weinthal (2012, 546-558), the author makes references on symbolism and identity of characters to help understand the interior design of Hitchcock’s space. This particular space is composed of various aspects for example the nature of urban dwelling and its close proximity due to the scarcity of space, photography through camera lenses, and modernity, which are elements of urban culture. The interior design used in rear window would be concluded to make reference to the modern urban living typical of the western and European culture where several apartments- interior spaces – are in a single block and are architectural type is the so popularly referred to as ‘self-contained with a kitchen, a living space, and bedroom all in a given space.

According to Betsy in Weinthal (2011, 559-573) the author argues that interior design is an art that highlights the role of familiarity in spaces. This function of art depends on various aspects of art among them display and technology and removes the idea that architecture is all about shelter, comfort, and functionality. Art in this case brings up the perspectives of interior architecture to reconstruct the rituals of negotiations, control, buying and selling, which are part of the real world that makes up day to day reality. This way, a new alternative to the culture of display is formed, sharing. it is worth noting that, it is the role of the architect to bring out these elements through design.

The blur building project (Diller and Scofidio, 2002) makes one of the best examples of sharing. The blur building makes use various disciplines among them engineering, art, and photography (display). The blur building is a work of that that displays display and considering display is essential in the day to day activities like advertisement, retail commerce, and goods packaging it all narrows down to the art of sharing. According to Betsy (Weinthal, 2011, 559), this form of art involves two performative stages of installation and exhibition. The blur images was used for ‘sharing’ purposes in the 2002 Swiss national expo which further serves to drive home this aspect of interior architecture theory.

Lastly, interior architecture theory as argued by Bishop (2012, 37) depends on the society for origin, growth, and utilization. Architectural work can be argued to be a representative of a people’s culture, which has been put into context through design. This aspect of interior architecture theory has simply evolved with time to take on the popular ideas of the day for example capitalism or communism in the post war era, democracy in the United States superiority era, and social networking in the current individualistic era. Ultimately, the society is the user of interior architecture and based on the fact that interior design and architecture has to appeal to the user, then it has to be made for the user, by taking into consideration the user’s preferences and needs. This forms the basis of social engagement, with a minor difference in the number of the sources and the recipients. For example, a major difference of the social networking era is that every person is a participator and a spectator at the same time.

The fun places project (Dickson, 2014) is an example of how interior architecture theory depends heavily on social engagement. Fun places is a project that even though it’s the idea of a single person, its fruition requires contribution of various artists as participants ranging from music to drama. The fun project depends on the participants for ideas, content, and material as well as other participants- visitors being the users. It is up to the discretion of a participant to choose on what to do, or what to watch.

In conclusion, interior architecture theory can be described as being interplay of among others, design and culture. Therefore any successful piece of interior design is an art that is made up of a people’s culture put into context. These use of the culture discipline in art can be differentiated into restoration, sharing, and social engagement. Restoration in that it makes reference to the culture and history of people. The rear window project is an example of the restorative nature of interior design. Interior architecture relies on sharing of the various aspects of art and moves away from the traditional view of interior architecture as a shelter, comfort, and functionality to introduce display and technology as to encompass the evolving culture and the introduction of technology in everyday’s activities. The blur building which uses display and technology is a perfect example of the sharing aspect interior architecture theory. Interior architecture as signified in the fun places requires social engagement, where every participant has the ‘democracy’ to choose what to do or what to watch. As a result, the position adopted in this essay is that the interdisciplinary approach of design and culture is essential in the creation and production of interior design that is appealing and the intended users can identify with.



  1. Bishop, Claire (Nato Thompson, Ed.). Participation and Spectacle: Where Are We Now? In Living As A Form: Socially Engaged Art from 1991-2011. Cambridge Mass: London: Mt Press, 2012
  2. Ching, Francis. Architecture, Form, Space and Order, 3rd New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2007.
  3. Dickson, Andrew. Fun Palaces: art for all, 2014, October 1. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/oct/01/fun-palaces-arts-for-all
  4. Diller, Elizabeth and Ricardo Scofidio. The blur building, 2002, October 20. Retrieved from http://www.designboom.com/eng/funclub/dillerscofidio.html
  5. Kopec, Dak. Environmental Psychology for Design. New York, Fairchild Publications, INC, 2006.
  6. Weinthal, Lois. “Architecture of Gaze: Jefferies Apartment and Courtyard”, Steve Jacobs, Towards a New Interior: An Anthology of Interior Design Theory, Princeton Architecture Press, 2011, 546-558.
  7. Weinthal, Lois. “Display Engineers”, Aaron Betsky, Towards A New Interior: An Anthology Of Interior Design Theory. Princeton Architecture Press, 2011, 559-573.

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