Interior Architypes: Contemporary Apartment Interior Design

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This study identifies, classifies and names unnamed archetypical and reoccurring design traits in contemporary, professionally designed, luxury apartment interiors. Each category of traits represents an interior archetype (Intype), an ideal example of a historical and culturally determined practice of design from which similar models are derived, emulated or reiterated. For the purposes of this study, the term apartment includes all high-rise living configurations, including a condominium, a form of home ownership in which individual units of a larger complex are sold, not rented. Apartments are an under-studied component of interior design, despite the increased role that they play in housing large numbers of people in highdensity urban areas around the world. Although some historical research has been conducted, little research or critical attention has been given to professionally designed apartment interiors. There is no formalized knowledge of contemporary apartment design as part of historical or theoretical studies, despite the fact that apartments may constitute one of the most difficult design problems of habitation. A rigid compartmentalization makes the adaptation to each user?s specific needs, and the personal behaviors of coexistence, difficult. Professional designers have responded to these requirements with diverse solutions to make the most of limited spaces both functionally and aesthetically. The research model includes three approaches. The project?s methodological approach is the development of a typology of published professional designs of luxury apartment interiors. The theoretical approach draws from George Kubler?s The Shape of Time that makes an argument for reiterative historic design traits that span time and cross cultural boundaries. The critical approach makes contemporary interior design practices of professional designers a subject of study. Based on photographic evidence from architecture and interior design trade magazines, each Intype isolates an apartment design strategy and traces its development through time. All issues of Interior Design published within the last sixty years (more than 1,000) were examined, as well as more than 170 issues of Architectural Record, and numerous issues from international trade journals, such as Abitare, AIT, and Interiors Korea. Field studies to New York, Chicago and Seoul tested the categories. From this research ten apartment Intypes emerged, six from western practices?Black Out, Ghost Hearth, Kaleidoscope, Mix Match, Naked, Showcase Stair, and four from Asian practices?Borrowed View, Korean White, Living Floor, Numera. Luxury high-rise apartments and condominiums share archetypical traits with other practice types, such as boutique hotels (Black Out, Mix Match, Naked) in their appeals to a high-end clientele and avant-garde interiors. The Intype, Mix Match, is a popular furnishing Intype in apartments, boutique hotels, resorts and spas and restaurants. This thesis research makes a contribution to the on-going Intypes Research and Teaching Project, initiated in 1997 at Cornell University. The project creates a typology of contemporary interior design practices derived from reiterative historical designs that span time and style and cross cultural boundaries, thereby providing designers with an interior-specific, historical and contemporary design vocabulary. The project disseminates new knowledge about design practices that have not been named, through a searchable web database? In adding to the body of knowledge produced by the Intypes Research Group, this study is the first to identify specific non-western Intypes.
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