An interior anthropology: Frontiers, thresholds and boundaries

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Design anthropology is an increasingly influential and critical discipline that enriches the understanding of society and the city. This paper sets out to deepen the contextualisation of the city by outlining an emergent discourse between spatial design and anthropology. Interior design has an obvious but often unrecognised anthropological profile, where the behavioural sciences are crafted intuitively with culture and dwelling (Ingold), the organisation of space (Dale), its form and structure (Brooker/ Stone) and the synthetics of space through the senses (Cantwell). The paper proposes a re-evaluation of the spatial terrain and the context for interiority (Maken), determining new principles and key definitions of an emergent interior anthropology. By synchronising this discourse through an analysis of spatial frontiers, thresholds and boundaries, the disciplinary bonds between design and anthropology are transformed to form new insight for the urbanised interior.

The paper combines the core principles of design practice (examination of the past to form the future) and anthropology (translation of human and social values) as a way to extend the interior nexus, enriching cultural transmission and engendering an improved social geography (through design). It seeks to questions the complicity of interior territory (Campos) through an anthropological lens and identifies key elements of the interior that determine the value, setting and place of human interactions.

An architectural frontier is presented as a place where interiority is researched, enacting and encircling the inhabitants. A series of interior journeys (case studies) are used to highlight the entwined 'layers' of interior anthropology and space. The paper embodies the nature of the interior threshold as a margin for people to cross, connecting spaces that impact on human values and build relationships with the interior. It concludes with the identification of an Interior anthropology as a new social science, assembling a new theoretical consciousness within the interior.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2018
EventInside the City - The Cass School, London Met University., London, United Kingdom
Duration: 21 Nov 201823 Nov 2018


ConferenceInside the City
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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