The emergence of interior architecture in Belgium, 1945-1999. Assessing the impact of education on the identity formation of the design discipline
In many Western countries, the field of interior architecture is characterised by an on-going identity crisis. The confusion becomes apparent via the diverse nomenclature: interior architecture, interior design and interior decoration. Furthermore, the discipline was often (and still is) perceived as feminine and amateurish. Attempts to correct this image have significantly characterised the professionalisation of interior design since World War II. This is particularly noticeable in the field of education. Contemporary interior design courses are still challenged to define themselves and to address their gendered image. Vocational courses have now achieved academic status, but in which ways did this change the identity of the profession? This project takes Belgium as a case study because of its diverse and bilingual educational landscape. The programmes in interior design are rooted in different traditions: the Beaux Arts tradition and the Arts & Crafts. How did interior design evolve in relation to these distinct educational branches? To address this, the project aims to develop detailed genealogies of all interior design courses in Belgium up until 1999, the year of the Bologna Declaration. Furthermore, a new method will be elaborated and refined for assessing the role of education in the identity formation of interior design. This method will also provide a thematic framework for international comparative research.