DHS Events

5 October 2023 -

Designing the Domestic: Innovation in the Home - Interview with Dr Emeline Brule

Ahead of our ‘Designing the Domestic: Innovation in the Home’ symposium, DHS Ambassador Alexandra Banister caught up with Dr Emeline Brule, design lecturer at the University of Sussex, to further explore her research into the modern torchiere.

Don’t forget you can sign up to the talk – taking place on Saturday 7th October, 2-4.30pm BST – for free via Ticket source.

What is your background and how did you develop an interest in design history?

I’m a designer from France working as a Human-Computer Interaction researcher at University of Sussex in the UK, teaching in an industrial design degree. I’m fascinated by the conditions through which our objects and tools become the way they are, and how this shapes our experiences in ways we don’t notice - until we face a different environment.

Dr Brule designing at home with a torchiere in the background
© Dr Emeline Brule

What does your research focus on?

My research focuses on inclusive design, how it’s done and how it’s experienced, in different contexts - technologies, tools, architecture. And I recently completed a study of city dwellers’ experiences of accessibility norms in France, where space is at a premium.

I’m interested in how norms and standards, some cultural, some technical, often multi-faceted, shape people’s experiences of their physical environment and of their social status. In the case of accessibility norms in the home for instance, while they pose significant usability difficulties, inhabitants strongly pushed back on what they felt was a “clinical feel” people associate with disability and that they want to distinguish themselves from. Design participates in broader social dynamics and that’s what I’m interested in eliciting.

Your talk is part of a wider symposium on Designing the Domestic: Innovation in the Home. What has drawn you to research design in the home?

I trace my interest in manufacturing and craft to growing up in a centre of ceramics production which had recently deindustrialized. It had a museum of faience and tradespersons who were eager to talk about their work. The home is a fascinating place, both a space of production, leisure, work, rest and play. How we craft and manufacture in and for the home is core to our identities, which provides a fertile ground for design research.


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