In 1968 (the year of both Archigram’s Instant City and Jean Baudrillard’s Le Système des Objets), when the first edition of Biennale Interieur opened in Belgium, the home was a central site of critical attention and investigation. A new domestic landscape—as identified by the prominent MoMA exhibition four years later—emerged from increasingly hypothetical conceptions of living, in which the quest for social change was paralleled by the confidence in new materials and technologies. In the 1960s and 1970s, avant-garde architects produced countless visions of future cities as well as future domesticity.

Throughout history, plans for an ideal society have often been articulated through the space of the home. Whether borne out of necessity or radical ideology, these projects are a subconscious portrayal of the desires and fears of both their individual authors and the wider social contexts behind them. The cross-section drawings presented in Domesti-city allow for a comparative view of multiple ideal homes, making visible spatial and social implications that may be difficult to read in plan. The new building regulations drafted in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London defined the model of the single-family terraced house, which would become the basic unit of London’s expansion for the following two centuries; the social condensers designed by the Russian constructivists embodied the pursuit of a new, egalitarian society visible in their collective kitchens; the homes designed by American companies in the 1950s were almost manifestos for economic optimism.

Thus, domestic interiors are neither neutral, nor innocent. They are the product of a perpetual tension between external forces (economical, political, even microbiological) rarely taken into account by designers. Yet it is at the scale of the interior that the transition between everyday objects and urban questions takes place.

In recent decades, domestic space has all but disappeared from the critical agenda—in parallel with its increasing commodification. Hosting a series of discussions with designers, writers, and curators (including Paola Antonelli, Bruce Sterling, Justin McGuirk, and others) Domesti-city has launched the SQM research project that Space Caviar presented at Biennale Interieur (17–26 October 2014) in Kortrijk. Tracing market fluctuations, failed ideals, global flows, and new fabrication techniques, SQM will make the case for a renewed discussion on the home.


Project team: Joseph Grima, Tamar Shafrir, Andrea Bagnato, Giulia Finazzi, Alicia Ongay-Perez
Supported by Biennale Interieur

Exhibition dates:

8 — 13 April 2014, Salone del Mobile 2014: Atelier Clerici, Palazzo Clerici, Milan, Italy