Dirk van den Heuvel sits in his home office contemplating the problem of stuff; more specifically, the rupture between the modern (architectural) urge to create a coherent interior space, and the modern (consumer) urge to accumulate and consume. From Andreas Angelidakis’ images of houses collapsing under the weight of piled up ‘things’, to the Smithsons’ efforts to reign in consumption through a form of ‘exquisite flower arrangement’, Dirk stares at has own unruly stacking of books, printers, and office supplies, adjusts his curtains, and begins his writing.
Receiving us in her office in a former school building one afternoon at the end of July, Petra Blaisse proposes to first show us around. Most of the Inside Outside team is on holiday or working on site, but we catch a glimpse of some of her collaborators and the work atmosphere of the office. The office is distributed over two sides of the corridor, with an Inside side (renowned for their large-scale curtains) and an Outside side (dealing with gardens, parks, and urban planning). We meet her to discuss her assignment to ‘do’ the Rietveld pavilion in Venice on the occasion of the 13th Architecture Biennale, but also to discuss her experiences as interior designer and how that relates to her outdoor work.
Less than sixty years ago, the battle for emancipation and class education was fought on private territory: inside the apartment. Today one’s house is supposed to be an expression of one’s individuality, but in those days the interior was subject to ideology and class struggle. During the first phase of the industrial city, newcomers in Western European cities had to be educated to behave like citizens: clean the house, manage waste, mind the children, in short conform to urban social rules. The right to live in a social rental apartment would be the reward for disciplined and confirmative behavior. After the Second World War, the focus of attention shifted to how to live a modern life: clean, healthy, and therefore happy, with simple, well-designed modern products in spartan, light, efficient spaces. One of Archis’ predecessors was dedicated to this very task. Inspired by social-democrat and modernist ideals, monthly magazine Goed Wonen [Good Living] showed what a good interior should look like as part of a program of education and emancipation.
Volume will be premiering its latest issue, Volume #33: Interiors, this Saturday in Maastricht at the opening of Playboy Architecture, 1953-1979 at NAiM/Bureau-Europa. This issue will feature an insert edited by Beatriz Colomina following research on Playboy’s role in linking lifestyle with architecture in the postwar period.