This course will explore the design and decoration of some of the most influential and fascinating domestic interiors in Western culture, highlighting both mainstream movements as well as interesting idiosyncratic styles of note. We will focus on the architecture as well as the fine and decorative arts, with painting, furniture, ceramics, glass and other works of art all playing a part in this fascinating story. Stylistic innovations, visual trends and iconic objects will be considered within the socio-economic and cultural context of the time in which these iconic interiors were conceived and created.
“Hugely enjoyable! Also beautifully presented and most informative. A great treat”.
24 Apr 2024 – A Profusion of Styles, Pattern & Colour in The Victorian Interior
Highly ornamented and often awash with decoration and objects, the Victorian interior in Britain was in many ways a reflection of a dynamic and rapidly changing society reconsidering its place in the world. We will look at the role of historical revivals in the creation of several exceptional interiors in styles including Gothic, Medieval, Renaissance and the French ‘Louis Revivals’.
01 May 2024 – Useful and Beautiful: The Arts & Crafts Home, 1860 – 1920
The Arts and Crafts Movement was developed in the 1860s and 1870s by a diverse group of British designers, architects and artists. A reforming movement, it can in part be understood as response to industrialization and what was perceived as a proliferation of badly designed and shoddily manufactured 19th-century goods. With a focus on quality and craftsmanship, practitioners of several generations created interiors and objects which were ‘radical’ at the time and remain influential today.
08 May 2024 – Art at Home: The Aesthetic Interior, 1870s & 80s
Taking as its rallying cry ‘Art for Art’s Sake’, the Aesthetic Movement celebrated beauty in all areas of life, and nowhere more so than in the creation of ‘artistic’ interiors. In part a reaction against the perceived ‘bad taste’ of mainstream Victorian design, the style privileged elegance and refined aesthetic values, drawing much of its inspiration from the East, Japan in particular.
15 May 2024 – Frank Lloyd Wright & the ‘Prairie Houses’, 1900-1910
Early in his career, Wright enjoyed a period of enormous productivity, crystallizing many of his ideas about domestic architecture and interiors. His concern with the appropriate placement of the house in its setting and his desire to re-think a home’s volumes and masses by rejecting typical ‘boxy’ house design led to the development of the ‘open plan’ layout, a huge influence on subsequent generations.
22 May 2024 – Art Deco in France, 1905 – 1939
French Art Deco, in the period leading up to the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes (1925) and in the years just following, was of the very highest quality in terms of craftsmanship, the use of fine and rare materials and originality of form and decoration. This was a luxury style well suited to the creation of glamorous interiors which resembled works of art.
29 MAY 2024 – European Modernism of the 1920s & 30s
Early Modernist interiors rejected tradition and ornament and expressed admiration for new technologies and the machine. This theoretically egalitarian vision of how the domestic interior should look and function in a changing society often privileged standardization over the individual and the personal. We will, however, discover that there was often visual richness and variety across this ‘type’ of modern home design.
05 June 2024 – Architects’ Glass Houses
Some stunning and truly iconic interiors were designed by leading architects in Europe and the USA between the 1920s and the 1950s. Taking Modernism as their starting point, and industrial materials in ways which were new and exciting for the time, some of these glass houses were landmarks of design at the time and have today achieved truly iconic status.
12 June 2024 – The ‘Contemporary’ Home, 1945 – 1965
New ideas about modern living contributed to sweeping changes in the design, construction and appearance of the domestic dwelling in the mid-20th century. Many in Britain and the USA asked: how should we design and construct houses in order to best reflect contemporary life? A trend toward the relaxation of the strict Modernist principles of the 1920s and 30s played an important role in the development exciting ‘open plan’, colourful Contemporary homes.
19 June 2024 – Reactions to Modernism: Pop & Postmodernism, 1960-1990
As the 1960s progressed, Modernism was felt by many to be conservative and out-of-step with the new, often radical ideas about society, culture, art and politics. The influence of Pop Art, Op Art, colour and the impact of youth culture on the design of interiors are clear, as is growing consumerism and the concept of ‘lifestyle’.
26 June 2024 – Minimalism and Beyond, 1990s to the Present
Minimalism in interiors can be seen as a reaction to the perceived excess and over-ornamentation of the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Privileging calm and order, ‘Minimal’ interiors were characterized by a rejection of clutter, lack of adornment and a restricted colour palette. A predominant style of the 1990s, its influence has been considerable but is now being challenged by a growing trend toward more decorative approaches.