Hosted by Woodbury University’s Interior Architecture department, the Unmentionables Symposium is a 2-day event that focuses on providing unrestricted terrain to the notions of critical interiority and the constructed environment. The Forum spoke to Annie Chu,the symposium’s chair, about what it means to be “Unmentionable”.
The symposium is part of the initiation of the Master of Interior Architecture program at Woodbury University. A core group of Woodbury Interior Architecture faculty, Randy Stauffer, Annie Chu, Kristin King and Heather Peterson identified the need for a scholarly symposium to highlight issues relevant to and perhaps even the raison d’être of the emerging discipline of interior architecture.
The name came about as an initial reaction to the narrow focus of contemporary architecture education, including the prevalence of technique driven methodologies and focus on form making; the committee began exploring the definition of the discipline and articulating its potential for knowledge production and emerging practices. We concluded that the existing paradigm of architecture vs. interior, and outside vs. inside are non-productive models for understanding the potential of interior architecture as practice and as inquiry. We believe that ‘the emergent (ideas operative for interior architecture) is likely to come from the least acknowledged, mined and understood condition of the present – those things we dare not say (in architecture schools in particular) or fail to mention – the subjects that go unspoken’ hence ‘Unmentionables’.
The EPA indicated that the average American spends 93% of their life indoors, that is 87% of their life in the interior spaces of structures, and 6% of their lives in automobiles (another type of interior). So much of our memories and experiences are staged in interiors, there is seldom a dream or a cultural product that do not rely on or respond to interior conditions as its scaffold or prompt. Interiors are constant and ubiquitous experiences in our daily lives, yet our knowledge of its effect and its potential for critical research are some of the most underexplored aspects of our human condition.