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Disrupting Interior Design

Tim Greenhalgh is Chief Creative Officer at FITCH, overseeing 14 design studios. Below, Tim asks 'what is interior design' and sets out a vision that stretches the very definition of what constitutes interior, spatial and environmental design.

"Interior design describes a group of various yet related projects that involve turning an interior space into an "effective setting for the range of human activities" that are to take place there. An interior designer is someone who coordinates and manages such projects."

So that’s that then, interior design explained…at least according to Wikipedia. But there's so much more to it than this; it imagines remarkable experiences that touch all the senses in a way other design disciplines cannot. It stimulates impressions that move people emotionally in an instant, day to day or forever. 

Interiors are everywhere, we live in them, shop in them, eat in them or simply travel through them. They keep us warm and provide a backdrop to other activities. There are those, however, that make us want to look further, stay longer or reappraise the space and the brand we are with.

Barcelona Pavillion, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1929, Disrupting Interior Design | D&AD
Barcelona Pavillion, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1929

Of course Interior design must be ‘effective and should create a setting’ but it should go further and evoke a visceral response that wonders at both the idea behind the space and the excellence of delivery in equal measure. It should use planes, materials and technology to make spaces that lead or disrupt the eye on a physical journey. From approach, to arrival, to the moment when you are enveloped in a world that works in harmony with the overall structure or despite it.

Take, for instance, the radical rationalism of the Barcelona Pavilion; conceived as a zone of tranquility and a continuous space where the boundaries of inside and outside are blurred. One only has to imagine how it felt to see and, moreover, be in that space in 1929 - a simple grid layout where framed views encouraged movement through the space. The dramatic, determined use of materials that in their time were considered radical, even brutal. All sitting below a roof that seemed to float above this calming sequence of interconnected zones. It was a reception space for the King and Queen of Spain that has informed future thinking about what an interior can and should do.

Aesop Melbourne Flinders Lane, March Studios, Disrupting Interior Design | D&AD
Aesop Melbourne Flinders Lane, March Studios

Fast forward to today and we can see commercial spaces that are equally lyrical and simple in their creation. Spaces such as those created for Aesop crafted from materials as basic as industrial cardboard. Spaces that establish their own clearly defined presence and make us re-evaluate what a shop should be and how it is made.

More than simply ‘managing and coordinating projects’, designers today are searching for new ways to create environments using a variety of mediums to build a distinct experience - one that elevates a service or brand and its product.

As humans we respond to the space that is created around us - great interior design makes us question what we believe spaces can do. We ignore them if they are deeply conventional or embrace them if thrown into a scenario that is challenging and distinct.

Rain Room, Barbican Centre, Random International 2013, Disrupting Interior Design | D&AD
Rain Room, Barbican Centre, Random International 2013, / D&AD Nomination, Spatial Design, 2013

Interiors can be crafted from finely honed travertine or cardboard or so digitally advanced that they appear at the flick of a switch and change with a gesture. Random International's critically acclaimed 100 sqm Rain Room does just this, creating an interior that allows the viewer to further place themselves ‘inside rain’ and control its behaviour.

So there’s much that can be done with a floor, a ceiling and some walls, but it depends on how one chooses to use these conventional elements or disrupt them.

If you think you have a campaign that deserves a Pencil, enter your work into the D&AD Professional Awards and see if our judges agree. When it comes to awards, nothing matters more.

For more creative inspiration and the opportunity to get up close and personal with the world’s best design and advertising, join us at D&AD Festival.
 

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