Imagined Interiors : Representing the Domestic Interior since the Renaissance (review)

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This large book is one outcome of the Centre for the Study of the Domestic Interior (CDSI), a five-year collaboration (2001-2006), funded by the British government via the Arts and Humanities Research Council, between the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal College of Art and the Bedford Centre for the History of Women at Royal Holloway, University of London. The CSDI website describes its aim:
to develop new histories of the home, its contents and its representation [and] research into the changing appearance and layout of the rooms in a range of buildings, from tenements to palaces, the objects that furnished those rooms, the ways rooms and objects were depicted, the manner in which people used them, and how they thought about them.
In their introduction to Imagined Interiors, the editors emphasise an impressive lineage for the CSDI – not only are its “complementary approaches to material culture” drawn from “the greatest museum of art and design” and “a world-leading art and design institution and university” but, furthermore, the “Centre was designed to be greater than the sum of its parts” (pp. 10-11). Quite a billing to live up to! Other outcomes from the project include another V&A publication, At Home in Renaissance Italy, which accompanied an exhibition at the museum; Gender, Taste, and Material Culture in Britain and North America, 1700-1830, drawn from a 2004 conference at the Huntington Library; Publishing the Modern Home, 1880-1950, a special issue of The Journal of Design History, and a textual and visual online database of representation of the Western domestic interior from 1400 to the present. At the close of the Centre, it seems timely to consider how Imagined Interiors contribute to meeting its aims.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-148
JournalStudies in the Decorative Arts
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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