The project documentation for this eleventh edition of DASH shows 15 style rooms that cover a time span of more than 100 years. These home interiors, which were never inhabited, were explicitly designed to illustrate a contemporary or futuristic form of dwelling at exhibitions and fairs. This distinguishes them from the traditional style rooms or period rooms in museums that depict a historic domestic style. The interiors shown here demonstrate how certain themes from the past 100 years continue to play a role in the debate on architecture, design and dwelling.
In selecting the style rooms, an attempt was made to find a certain variation in design philosophies, without striving for completeness. The rooms from the first decade of the twentieth century made by Peter Behrens and Hendrik Petrus Berlage for Wertheim, the department store in Berlin, show two different approaches: the Gesamtkunstwerk and the composed interior. The home furnishing of Behrens became well known and was reconstructed in Darmstadt, whereas Berlage’s room has been forgotten. The three exhibited interiors from the 1920s illustrate the great importance that architects from this period gave to the phenomenon of ‘dwelling’, as well as the important position that housing exhibitions (and the interiors they featured) played in a debate about space, materials, standardization and domestic culture. Noteworthy of the two interiors documented here by the great Modern masters Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier is the essential role of two women, respectively Lilly Reich and Charlotte Perriand, whose names have remained somewhat in the shadows until recently. In comparison to these two installations, the furniture arrangement of Heinrich Tessenow shows a completely different approach: here, a link was sought to the conventions of a natural domestic culture. In their 1930 installation for the Triennale di Milano, Luigi Figini and Gino Pollini took an intermediary position between Mies and Tessenow: in a spatial arrangement that was clearly indebted to Mies, they placed furniture as ready-mades, referring to traditions from the Italian countryside. From the same period, we also included a furniture arrangement by Josef Frank for Svenskt Tenn, which was exhibited with great commercial success at the World’s Fair in New York: the home interior had become a global market.
After the Second World War, the relationship between architecture and the home interior changed. The ambition to educate the dwelling consumer about good taste took off significantly during the reconstruction period. In the early 1950s, Finn Juhl was asked by the Trondheim museum to give shape to this particular kind of taste, in a modern period room. Likewise, at Expo 58 in Brussels, Karl Augustinus Bieber and Ernst Althoff showed the interior of a more ordinary but still modern model apartment. A specific way of exhibiting distinguished this pavilion from the many model homes and arrangements that, for example, the Goed Wonen foundation had furnished in the Netherlands.
The shift from architecture to (product) design, or more accurately the gradual disappearance of the strong interest that architects had shown for home interiors during the pre-war years, was perhaps best seen in the 1972 MoMA exhibition ‘Italy: The New Domestic Landscape’. Two completely different projects by Joe Colombo and Super-studio, both related to this exhibition, showed how the architecture of the home dissolved respectively into an all-inclusive object and a series of neutral furniture pieces in a landscape. Product design, encouraged by the spirit of postmodernism, threw itself wholeheartedly into the domestic interior, by depicting trends like the rise of the media, as can be seen in the project by Ugo La Pietra from the 1980s. Apparently, in the current consumer society, product designers have recently been better than architects at giving shape to their ideas about dwelling: Jasper Morrison and Hella Jongerius created installations that critically questioned their own profession, whereas Kengo Kuma seemed to be looking for a reinterpretation of an ancient culture. But at the same time, this also illustrates a fundamental and at least 100-year-old debate among architects and designers about the role of innovation and tradition in home interiors.
All of these interiors on display were specially redrawn for this issue. In so doing, we looked for a drawing technique that specifically worked for interiors. Showing the floor plan with unfolded walls (known as ‘developed surface drawing’) is a technique that has traditionally been used by those who focus on the treatment of the surfaces of the inner walls, such as painters and other craftsmen. In the England and the Netherlands of the eighteenth century, this technique achieved a certain popularity among architects in the design of interiors. Because this drawing technique allows the relationship between the floor plan and the elevations of the room to be united in a single drawing, we have consistently used it in this project documentation, and we have thus drawn the 15 style rooms in a similar fashion. This inevitably led to a number of complications. As a drawing technique, developed surface drawing is particularly suitable for ‘classic’ rooms with a flat floor, walls and ceiling. But with this technique, steps or projections in these surfaces lead to interruptions in the uniform depiction of the figure, as can be seen in the drawings of the rooms by Behrens, Figini and Pollini, and Juhl. Despite these interruptions, these drawings still create the illusion of a model cut-out, which only needs to be folded together to be viewed from above. This becomes difficult, however, with exhibited home interiors that are not so much rooms or spaces but objects, such as the model apartment by Bieber and Althoff, the Total Furniture Unit by Colombo, or the Ideal House by Jongerius. Here we have used a variant of this drawing technique, where the outer walls of the object are grouped around the floor plan, so that you look from the outside to the inside. This variant of the floor plan with unfolded elevations has also been used in what is perhaps the most outspoken ‘anti-style room’, namely Superstudio’s placement of the Misura furniture in an open space.
Interiors that were once displayed at fairs or exhibitions have not always been well described or documented. For the most part, the new drawings shown here are therefore reconstructions of the project, based on the available (historical) material: sketches, drawings and photographs.
With contributions by:
Frederique van Andel, Rika Devos, Fredie Floré, Dick van Gameren,
Julia Hegenwald, Paul Kuitenbrouwer, Peter Lang, Pierijn van der Putt,
Louise Schouwenberg, Hans Teerds & Jurjen Zeinstra
Guido Greijdanus, Carlyn Simoen & Davida Rauch