A Philosophy of Interior Design

A Philosophy of Interior Design

A Philosophy of Interior Design

A Philosophy of Interior Design


This book explores and explains the fundamentals of interior design. Because it does not emphasize current trends and fashion, its value will be long lasting.


Were it not so clumsy, the proper title for this book would be Notes to Help the Interior Designer Form a Philosophy, for it is not the goal here to prescribe a single comprehensive and universally applicable philosophy for all. Rather, the intent is to look at the elements of interior design in a way that might aid interior designers in the formulation of individual philosophies for their own work.

Ideally such a formulation occurs at the beginning of the practice of design, and so an ideal reader for this book is the design student. In practice, however, some designers work for years or even for whole careers without bothering about a philosophy, so perhaps some of the contents will be of interest to more experienced readers as well.

This book had its origin at a 1987 debate about interior designer licensing. My friend James Stewart Polshek, who was then dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at Columbia University and who was opposed to such licensing, argued that interior design could not be considered a true profession because it lacked a body of theory. This seemed an astonishing and dismaying idea at the time. I wondered if it could be true and thought that, if it were not, Polshek's statement should be refuted. Here, then, is an attempt at refutation.

Bodies of theory are in themselves dry, academic, and of debatable importance to practitioners, but they cannot exist without something that is of undeniable importance: the practice of thinking philosophically--that is, thinking in ways not overtly technical or pragmaticabout an area of endeavor. If interior design were new among mankind's interests, it could be that such thought had not had time to develop, but that is not the case.

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