Submission deadline:

February 1, 2023

Educating the Interior Designer

September 8, 2023

Campus St-Lucas Ghent, Belgium – September 8th 2023

Over the course of the twentieth century, interior design emerged as an autonomous design discipline all over the world. Though strongly depending on local contexts, the discipline’s process toward professionalization is characterized by specific developments: the founding of local and national professional associations; the monitoring of standards and codes of conduct; the organization of cultural and economic events like fairs, exhibitions and biennials; the legal protection and gatekeeping of the profession; and finally, the emergence of accredited educational programs, often in existing institutes. Regardless, interior design has retained an aura of amateurism, has struggled to convincingly privatize specific design knowledge, and is still widely associated with decoration and gendered practices.

Processes of professionalization have proven to constitute a useful lens in historicizing design disciplines (Lees-Maffei, 2008). This conference looks at education specifically, as we understand educational practices in interior design to be important sites both for the production of knowledge on (designing) interior spaces, and for negotiating the content and status of the discipline. While recent scholarship has widely recognized histories of architectural education as fruitful representations for disciplinary developments and understandings (Ockman, 2012; Çelik Alexander & May, 2020; Couchez & Heyninckx, 2022; Colomina et al., 2022), interior design programs are yet to be researched in their own right. The dialectic relationship with surrounding disciplines plays a major role. On the one hand, because programs dedicated to interior spaces are ontologically indebted to architectural practice, they are often placed in a supplemental position (Havenhand, 2004). On the other, the discipline’s history is complicated by its roots in homemaking and could diversify academic discourse that has taken an interest in popular domestic advice for its cultural significance and economic impact.

This conference invites contributions that address the education of the interior designer throughout the twentieth century. Papers are encouraged to discuss educational practices specific to the discipline and to reflect on their impact on and contribution to contemporary practice, discourse, authorship, and design knowledge. The organizers aim for a wide variety of teaching practices, and welcome perspectives from all over the world. Papers can focus on one or more of the following subtopics:

  1. Institutional Histories
  2. The Inside Look
  3. The monographic Approach

Please send your submission (400-word abstract and 200-word biography) by 1 February 2023 to

More information can be found here.

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