Interior Spaces and the Layers of Meaning

By Petra Simona Perolini.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The aim of this paper is to examine how space is conceived and conceptualised by undergraduate students. It further discusses how space is translated from mind to actuality without loosing meaning and characteristics and how to move beyond designing ‘designed’ spaces by putting space in a more extensive debate.
Interior architecture/design, as an academic discipline, is outside of the humanities, designing a space requires the capacity to think similarly to a humanities student who is directed to understand the complexity of culture and better understand the world in which they live. Interior architecture/design has always lacked identity and has had difficulty positioning itself as it is often divided between technology, science, art and production. Designing space is often the product of compromise and limitations (material/budget) and reducible to something that is calculable and measurable. Consequently, a physical space is often interpreted as a space disconnected from whom or what occupies it. The visual and sensory quality of a space becomes so dominant that there is the potential to reduce the socially contextualised design to a mere product of design. For design students, space is always seen in relation to the physical fit of humans and its interaction with human activity and objects. The abstract nature of design projects and the fact that most designs are virtual creations before they become reality makes thinking about space outside the production of space challenging. Space is the core of interior design and surprisingly not much emphasis is given to understand space on a complex level as explored by thinkers such as Henri Lefebvre, Peter Sloterdijk and Bruno Latour. Lefebvre in his work The Production of Space interprets space on three levels; physical, mental and social space. He argues that space is not simply something we inherited from the past or is determined by the rules of spatial geometry but space is produced and reproduced by humans in which they construct their lives. ‘Space is produced by the people who occupy it and influenced by those who design and produce it’ (Lefebvre, 1991). Interestingly the architect Frank Lloyd Wright believed that the space within a building is the reality of that building.

Keywords: Interior Design, Space, Language of Space, Design Education, Interiority

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp.163-174. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.151MB).

Petra Simona Perolini

Lecturer in Design, Design Department, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Petra studied architectural design in Switzerland with a major in Interior Design and later worked as an interior designer in Switzerland for 2 years mainly doing corporate design work. She moved to Australia, completing a degree in visual arts majoring in interior design at Griffith University and later a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Queensland. She worked for Griffith University Facilities Management for 11 years designing for educational facilities and has also undertaken other work mainly in corporate design and retail design work. Prior to becoming an academic member of staff, Petra worked as a sessional teacher in the Queensland College of Art (Griffith University). In January 2007 she was appointed as a full-time lecturer in the college. Petra is a member of the Design Institute of Australia.


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