Interior Economies

Preston, Julieanna (guest editor and article). IDEA Journal: Interior Economies (Interior Design Educator’s Association), 2012.


Originally identifying the household or family as the basic unit of society, the term “economy” (oikos) implicates the social and material relations of a prominent type of interior, the domestic sphere. The notion of economy has expanded in contemporary usage to denote systems of production, distribution and consumption at a global scale. In much of today’s world, to be economical is to make the efficient use of resources, even to the extent of frugality. And yet, in sharp contrast and with immediate relevance, “economy” conceptually refers to a face to face relational exchange, an active sharing and social interaction which has the capacity to occur in interiors other than those inscribed by physical enclosure or geographical locale.

This guest edited issue of IDEA Journal: Interior Economies responded to the following provocations:

What forms of interior environments emerge to support new gender, ethnic and ethical relations in the twenty-first century?

If considered as sites of exchange, production and distribution, how might domestic, industrial, commercial, virtual, temporal and liminal interiors be re-imagined?

What is gained or lost by the efficient face of economy within interior design?

Economy’s thrifty, frugal and practical sensibility could suggest certain vestiges of modernism’s hold on interior aesthetics and its supposed abolition of ornament and decoration. How does this identity lead one to reconsider contemporary technologies which assist to support burgeoning interior trades and manufacturing industries with material goods used to refit, refurbish and redecorate homes, lobbies, offices and more? How might this issue relate immaterial interiors?

The interface of interior and economy warrants mention of the financial encumbrance of sourcing materials, fixtures, furniture and finishes. What relation do these finishes and props of inhabitation have with global networks, politics and/or sustainable preservation?


Read Interior Economies at IDEA 2011 Interior Economies