Jan Jennings

Web Bio Page

Current Activities

Current Professional Activities
Jennings is a former co-editor of Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum (2002-2006). She continues her service with the Vernacular Architecture Forum as a member of the Special Series in Vernacular Architecture publications committee. She is a former chair of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Interior Design and a former president of the Society for Commercial Archeology.

Current Research Activities
Jennings founded and directs the Intypes (Interior Archetypes) Research & Teaching Project at Cornell. The Intypes Project identifies ideal examples of historical and culturally determined practices of
interior design. The Project creates a typology of contemporary practices that have not been named, generates a design-specific vocabulary and produces a new knowledge base from practice-led research. Research is disseminated through a free, open, searchable web database: intypes.cornell.edu. The web site was  launched at NeoCon in June 2009 by founding partners, the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) and Interior Design. In five years the web site will expose the practice of interior design to the public by supplying an unprecedented catalog of in-depth research and digital images of published work. Intypes encourage designers and students to link history and contemporary design using a structured, robust and accessible method.


Biographical Statement
Jan Jennings, a Professor in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, is a multi-disciplinarian by education, training and work experience in the fields of interior design, historic preservation and urban planning. From 1969 to 1973 she was one of three principal planners with the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission who directed the preparation of the Comprehensive Plan update (Vision 2000) and designed and administered the citizen participation element of the Plan revision. She opened and directed Oklahoma’s first city-supported preservation office for the City of Tulsa. From 1979 to 1993, Jennings was a principal in the historic preservation firm Jennings.Gottfried.Cheek. In 1991 Jennings studied at the Winterthur Museum and Library as a Benno M. Forman Fellow. Prior to Cornell Jennings taught interior design at Iowa State University in the Department of Art, College of Design.

Jennings' research interests focus on ordinary American buildings and interiors, as well as contemporary interior design history, theory and criticism. In 2007 she was awarded a Faculty Innovation Grant for the Interior Archetypes Research and Teaching Project.

At Cornell, in addition to the field of Design and Environmental Analysis, Jennings belongs to the graduate fields of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.


M.S. 1969 | Oklahoma State University Housing and Urban Studies
B.S. 1968 | Oklahoma State University Housing and Interior Design

Interior Design, Architecture History, American History, Historic Preservation

Courses, Websites, Pubs

Courses Taught
DEA 2010 | Design Studio 3
DEA 2510 | History & Theory of the Interior (lecture)
DEA 4600 | designCity (field study)
DEA 6680 | Design Theory & Criticism (graduate seminar)

Related Websites


Selected Publications


Gottfried, Herbert and Jan Jennings. American Vernacular Buildings and Interiors, 1870-1960. New York: W.W. Norton, 2009.

Jennings, Jan. Cheap and Tasteful Dwellings: Practical Architects and The Convenient Interior, 1879-1909. Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2005.

Jennings, Jan, ed. Roadside America: The Automobile in Design and Culture. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1993.

Jan Jennings and Herbert Gottfried. American Vernacular Interior Architecture, 1870-1940. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988; rpt. Iowa State University Press, 1993.

Gottfried, Herbert and Jennings, Jan. American Vernacular Design, 1870-1940. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985; rpt. Iowa State University Press, 1988.

Recent Articles

Jennings, Jan. “Naming Design Practices: Producing a Body of Knowledge of the Creative Dimension of Interior Design.” Communicating (by) Design. Brussels, Belgium: Sint Lucas School of Architecture in Brussels, Belgium and Department of Architecture at the Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg, Sweden, 2009, 145-50.

Jan Jennings, "A Case for Typology: The Interior Archetypes Project,” Journal of Interior Design 32, no. 3 (2007): 48-68.