Les intérieurs aujourd’hui/ Interiors today

Méthodes de production et d’analyse interdisciplinaires/Interdisciplinarymethods of productionand analysis


October 11 2019 - October 12 2019

Interior spaces have often lent themselves to the experimentations of different professionals (architects, interior designers, decorators, ensembliers, designers, artists, etc). By themselves or in collaboration and in frequent interaction with the client, these creators work at the frontiers of several disciplines: architecture, visual arts, design, decoration, etc. These practices testify certain kinds of permeability that take the form of dialogues, transfers, and contaminations, and that aim to produce effects in terms of spaces, uses, perceptions, and emotions. 

Adopting synergetic, critical, contemporary and experimental perspectives, we will question the notion of interior, specifically its versatility, its ambiguity, and its wealth, with regard to its modalities of production, appropriation and perception: from the scale of the body to that of the metropolis (from the object to the space, from domestic spaces to shared spaces of activity, consumption, or entertainment), measured in terms of ecological challenges (the production environments), modern and contemporary practices and uses (lifestyle, services, transportation, mobility) or with regard to new kinds of spatiality (new spaces of sociability, tools and practices of digital spaces). By going beyond the divisions, categorizations, and traditional oppositions (between the outside and the inside, the private and the public, the individual and the collective, etc.), we will reflect and redefine the interior in its relation to environments, territories, and uses, to perceive its historical and synchronical relevance and to grasp its conceptual operationality for the process of the project. What makes an interior? How is it conceived? How is it read, interpreted? How is it lived and felt?

Where disciplines meet

The interior appears as a territory of synergy and the complementarity of disciplines (architecture and the applied arts such as graphic design, design, but also plastic arts, the industrial esthetic; there are also analogies and transfer of tools and practices from cinema, photography, literature) as we see it through historical schools such as the Bauhaus, the Vkhoutemas, or the Ulm School of Design.

The symposium has two ambitions:

  • to explore and grasp the diversity of tools elaborated by researchers from different fields in order to analyze the complexity of the spaces that are considered “interior.” The aim is to present and compare the “toolboxes” and methodologies of different disciplines – from the human sciences (historians of art, architecture, and design, sociologists, anthropologists, or philosophers, etc.) but also from the natural sciences (cognitive sciences or neurosciences, biological sciences, computer sciences, cybernetics, etc.) or even from art, literature, or cinematography – which will have to demonstrate their ability to propose a critical interpretation of complex works that are characterized by a stratification of meanings. We will first and foremost be concerned with the specificities of the methods, their complementarity and their possible crossings, favoring the large specter of interpretative approaches, that go from more hermeneutic to more systemic ones. The aim is to test their effectiveness in regard to the question of the interior, whether it is about describing the “forms of intention” (M. Baxandall, 1985) of a creator, the forms of their reception, the “editing effects” (S. M. Ejzenštejn, 1937) of certain perspectives and their repercussion on the mind, or the “feeling of spatiality” (A. Schmarsow, 1896) that is engendered in the user.
  • to confront professional and operational praxes (urbanists, architects, designers, interior designers, landscape artists, space planners, etc.) in order to grasp the design processes in their complexity and singularity. We will turn to the great diversity of architectural or design methods, such as spatial, functional, ergonomic, tectonic, or technical analysis, that help to produce and describe the organization of interior space, the sequence of rooms, the relationship between interior and exterior, the furniture and decor in their relation to the environment, the spatial sequences where transitions are marked by thresholds that are more or less marked and by perspectives that lead to, guide, and mark both the physical and perceptive experience of users as well as their feeling, etc.

 Proposals will be based on case studies from the contemporary period (or that are relevant to the comprehension of the contemporary period), that will be the object of a demonstrative but also experimental analysis led by applying one or several methodologies from architecture, design, interior design, plastic arts, or other disciplines.

Three axes will be primarily considered:

  1. The project (from the object to the urban space) and its particular constraints, from its conception to its implementation and its construction; the question of its tools, scales, or steps, of specific and individualized, transversal and collaborative processes that unfurl at the crossroads of disciplines and expertise, for the construction of an “interior” where the knowledge collaborates and dissolves in a homogeneous whole.
  2. The question of uses and how they can be treated singularly: who uses these interiors and how are they used? From the question of behaviors to the question of services; the possibility to consider these interiors like places of sedimentation and revelation of different internationalities: the type of domesticity or atmosphere, usually tied to the expectations of the client; the notions of habitability and temporality that concern the “moving interior” of modes of transportation as much as temporary work places, or places that exhibit objects, or stores; the presence of allegorical elements that connect to the cultural imagery of the owner but also of the architect, or more largely of the author(s) of the project; the notions of functionality and effectiveness, etc.
  3. The feeling of spatiality or the perception of atmospheres: the physical and visual articulation of interiors, the light or chromatic effects, the integration of vegetation and nature, their emotional, sensory, visual, sound, haptic perception, the experimental and experiential dimension of interiority.

Call for papers

Proposals for a 30-minutes intervention should not exceed 500 words and can be written in English or French. Your proposal should include a short biography of the author, and be emailed to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) before Mars 30, 2019.

Provisional calendar

 January 7, 2019: call for papers launched

March 30, 2019: deadline for submission

June 17, 2019: proposals selection and announcement to selected applicants

October 11 and 12, 2019: event at ENSA-Versailles


ENSA-Versailles, 5 avenue de Sceaux, 78000 Versailles, France


Scientific committee

Paolo Amaldi, architect, PdD in Architecture from the Université de Genève, professor of Architectural History and Cultures at EENSA-V, researcher at LéaV.

Catherine Bruant, architect, sociologist, director of research at the ENSA-V, research laboratory director (LéaV).

Ana Maria Fernández García, PhD in History of Art University of Oviedo and University of Buenos Aires, professor of History of Art, University of Oviedo, director of the Art History and Musicology department, director of “Res Mobilis” journal.

Imma Forino, architect, PhD in Furnishing and Interior Architecture from Politecnico di Milano, professor of Interior Architecture and Exhibition Design, AUIC School, Politecnico di Milano, researcher in the Architecture and Urban Studies Department.

Anne Lefebvre, PhD in french contemporary philosophy and philosophy of technology for design from the Université Lille 3, associate professor in the design department of the Ecole normalesupérieure Paris-Saclay (former ENS Cachan), head of the Centre de recherche en design (CRD – ENS Paris-Saclay / Ensci – Les ateliers)

Pat Kirkham, historian, PhD in History from the University of London, professor of History of Design at the Kensington School of Art (Kesington University), London

Alexis Markovics, PhD in History of Modern and Contemporary Architecture from Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin/ENSA-V, Ladrhaus, academic director and instructor at the Ecole de Camondo, researcher at LéaV

Letizia Tedeschi, Art historian, director of Archivio del Moderno (Accademia di architettura – Università della Svizzera italiana)

Annalisa Viati Navone, architect, PhD in Architecture from the Institut d’architecture of the Université de Genève, professor of Architectural History and Culturesat EENSA-V, researcheratLéaV and Archivio del Moderno (Accademia di architettura – Università della Svizzera italiana)

Nicolas Henchoz, founder and director of EPFL+ECAL LAB in Lausanne (Laboratoire Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne+University of Art and Design Lausanne).ù

Scientific office (for any information): Murielle Gigandet, assistant research engineer, LéaV/ENSA-V .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The symposium is organised by LéaV/ENSA-V with: ENS Paris-Saclay, Design Department; Ecole de Camondo; Archivio del Moderno (Accademia di architettura – Università della Svizzera italiana); Politecnico di Milano, DAStU Architecture and Urban Studies Department.

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