3 October 2023 -
As part of our upcoming online symposium ‘Designing the Domestic: Innovation in the Home’, DHS Ambassador Alex Banister caught up with Selin Geerinckx, interior architect and doctoral researcher at the Faculty of Design Sciences, University of Antwerp, to discuss her research on the bodily and mental effects of modern(ist) housing ideologies. Selin will be presenting joint paper – ‘The Bruynzeel Kitchen: On Body Movements and Household Reform’ alongside Els De Vos, associate professor at the University of Antwerp.
‘Designing the Domestic: Innovation in the Home’ takes place on Saturday 7th October, 2-4.30pm BST. Register for free here.
What is your background and how did you develop an interest in design history?
After completing an M.Sc. in Interior Architecture, specialising in (im-)material cultural history, authenticity and continuity, I decided to pursue academic research in this field as a design scientist. My focus on history stems from the need to provide knowledge of design-related social developments from an interior architecture perspective, which is required to create not only meaningful but also sustainable interiors. The analysis of technical design aspects in the interior certainly covers an important part of design history. However, I am particularly interested in culturally driven design because of socio-economic issues in society.
What does your research focus on?
I conduct ontological research in interior architecture at the Faculty of Design Sciences of the University of Antwerp. As such I want to develop alternative insights on architectural history and theory, as well as social history. My dissertation focuses on three interior related examples in lowland housing during the interwar period with its corresponding phenomena in the domestic realm. With the Great War and subsequent Great Depression in Europe, Belgian and Dutch housing and households turned into drivers of modernization to which manufacturing companies would quickly respond. The cases were selected for study from the perspective of interior architecture and design practice because they address the interventions by avant-garde artists and designers taking part in the life/household reform movement: the atelier flat of abstract painter Jozef Peeters, the first standardized kitchen of the Bruynzeel timber factory and the radio gym classes by choreographer and dance pedagogue Lea Daan. Consequently, these three studies on design within the domestic interior expose tensions that society struggled with. In sum, my dissertation elaborates on how the interior space between the domestic walls mediated modernity, as in the uncertain times of the interwar period the private realm offered a place to create its own hold on society from within.
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?
Observing daily usage, circulation paths, and rituals associated with the domestic sphere is fuelled by my personal interest in body movement and performance. While theatre and dance appeal to everyday topics, it is equally interesting to understand how both, within history, were incorporated into domestic life. From dance, we also learn that the human body stores experiences and thus gradually forms its identity. Understanding how to create a common thread that bridges previous body habits, thus preventing disruptions, is important for sustainable design practice in housing.