Negotiation space: a relational approach to interior design by Roger Kemp

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Interior Design is most often understood as concerned with the design or reform of the inside of buildings. In this way, an interior is defined by the enclosure of a building – the result of its containing architecture. The dominant association of the term ‘interior’ is with ideas of location, containment or enclosure. It is my contention that this is unnecessarily restrictive and hinders the development of broader and far richer opportunities for the discipline.

The central aim of this PhD is to develop an expanded practice of Interior Design, drawing on a more liberal understanding of interiority as a relational condition. This relational approach to Interior Design foregrounds the positioning of occupants relative to the physical and virtual conditions of a space, both perceived and experienced.

A collaborative design practice titled Making Distance was established for the duration of the PhD. This practice developed participatory tools and techniques that embraced and extended a collaborative partnership with filmmakers, scriptwriters, other designers, and the public.

Physical ‘making’ of interiors was central to this practice-based research. Various self-initiated and commissioned projects (including constructed models, installations, exhibitions, and sets for film and television) supported a deliberate shift in medium and context to address the rhetorical nature of the work as both speculation and reflection.

The body of work produced under the banner of Making Distance carried two research trajectories simultaneously: that of Negotiating Space and the Mediated Interior. Ultimately Making Distance acted as a framework and vehicle for a conversation between two designers, enacted through the medium of design.

This research’s major contribution to the discipline is to provide a methodological catalyst for further research by practice in interior design. It provokes a serious reassessment of the role of interior design. Eschewing restriction to the ‘indoors’, it suggests an expanded engagement in the design of our contemporary urban environment.

Year: 2016
Examiners: Prof Gabriela Seifert, Dr Samantha Spurr  Supervisors: Professor Sand Helsel, Dr Charles Anderson

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