CONFERENCE SESSION: MEDIATISING THE DOMESTIC 15/06/22

As suggested by Edwards Clive, ‘home is both an idea and a reality’ (2005). As an idea, it is an archetypical space of belonging, a private project and social construct envisioned by architects and users alike. As a reality, it is the result of the interplay between the material necessities and aspirations of actors and agents involved in the production of ‘the domestic’: from forms and typologies of the home and its interior, to the nuclear family type, or the economic prospects of housing speculation. Alongside the disciplinary spaces of architectural discourse, this dialectic paradigm is generated and reinforced through larger cultural, political and social mechanisms, including financial ambition, gender roles, or national identity. ‘Mediatising the Domestic’ seeks to expose these broader issues that converge in the construction of the domestic environment, as both an idea and a reality. We look at the representational agency of popular media and non-canonical publications: from 18th-century pattern books to contemporary commercial catalogues, from housing magazines to social media. What does this media narrate and add to existing domestic discourses? What micro-histories can we detect from closer analyses and how do these relate to larger historical narratives? What can one learn from reading images, texts and commercial messages belonging to marginal, and alternative domestic representations?

On the one hand, these representations of the domestic reveal sub-cultures, trends, actors and stories which actively partake in the production of domestic space; on the other hand, they carry and generate stereotypical representations, reinforcing and formalizing, by means of repetition and dissemination, specific ideas of living. Through this material we can shed new light on how the notion of the domestic entails issues of gender, social identity and authorship; on how design canons and stereotypes are perpetuated within specific geo-political contexts; and how the ‘myth’ of the home is constructed by a constellation of figures and interests, from the housewife-consumer to the speculative developer. In bringing together different geographical, temporal and ontological media, the roundtable focuses on how the domestic is produced and reproduced through lesser-known means of communication and representation.

This Group is part of the Building Word Image group of the European Architectural History Network, and takes place during the 2022 conference. This will be an afternoon session on June 15, from 3.30-6pm

Group Coordinators: Rebecca Carrai (KU Leuven) and Gregorio Astengo (ETH Zurich)

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