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A Half-serious Tale of Interiors

A Half-serious Tale of Interiors
By Cristina Morozzi -

An ‘ideal story’ of interiors might start with Michel De Certeau who noted that to become a personal space, the roots of the family microcosm, interiors have to acquire “a density of matter and affect” (Michel De Certeau, Luce Giard, Pierre Mayol, L’Invention du quotidien, Gallimard, Paris, 1994).
The prudish Victorians, who gave us the corridor as a means of eliminating communicating rooms, believed that the only way to show the true character of the family was the ostentation of objects accumulated over time. Subsequently derided as collectors of bric-a-brac, the Victorians saw the home in terms of “densification”. This ornament-overload led inevitably to movements extolling simple, essential interiors, culminating in the Bauhaus, founded in 1921 in Weimar by Walter Gropius. The catechism of this new aesthetic preached that form followed function. Its cardinal rules: Adolf Loos’ famous dictate that “ornament is crime”, and Mies van der Rohe’s prescription that “less is more”. For the Bauhaus masters, form had to fit function, furniture should be simple, rational, and possibly affordable by everyone. Densification was totally alien. If anything, there should be absence or void. For an interior to attain “moral purity”, it should contain no ornament; walls should be white and the furnishing essential, possibly made of metal tubing. With hindsight, however, even the modern Bauhaus style now appears yet another fashion or trend. Sociologist Harvey Molotch defines the Bauhaus as creating the fashion of doing away with all fashion, its ideal a “universal aesthetic”, and the “democratisation of moral purity” (Harvey L. Molotch, Where Stuff Comes From: How Toasters, Toilets, Cars, Computers and Many Other Things Come to Be as They Are, Routledge). And in the words of Reyner Banham, all well designed chairs are uncomfortable and expensive (Theory and Design in the First Machine Age, MIT Press, 1960). Many tube frame chairs, he points out, were not as functional as...

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