Seductive discourses : design advice for the home

Lara-Betancourt, Patricia and Hardy, Emma, eds. (2014) Seductive discourses : design advice for the home. London, U.K. : Taylor & Francis. 136p. (Interiors : Design/Architecture/Culture, (5:2)) ISSN (print) 2041-9112


This special issue examines the role of design advice for the home, from the 1870s to 1970 and recognises its significance in shaping contemporary and historical perceptions and representations of the domestic sphere. Understood as a culturally and historically framed genre, the discourse on the design of the home expanded quickly in the second half of the nineteenth century with the dissemination of design ideas through books, magazines, department stores and exhibitions offering advice on topics related to furnishing, decoration and home management. In the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries the genre has adopted new media and technological platforms including television and the digital and virtual world showing the adaptability of this narrative to diverse modes of mediation and representation. While this material seems ubiquitous today and has been highly influential in shaping perceptions of the domestic sphere, it has proved problematic as a primary source for those hoping to study ‘real’ domestic spaces and practices. The sometimes all too obvious gap between the tastefully furnished, efficiently managed homes depicted and our own everyday domestic experiences raises questions about who and what domestic advice is really for. The issue includes essays focusing on the late nineteenth century in Britain, and articles addressing the postwar period in Europe, Africa and America.

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