The interior, the experiencer, Kokoro: towards the essence of place

Fern, David ORCID logoORCID: (2021) The interior, the experiencer, Kokoro: towards the essence of place. [Doctorate by Public Works]

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The seven public works described in this context statement, and submitted for this PhD were chosen from a diverse portfolio of interior design projects that I executed between 1989 and 2012. Their typologies vary widely, relating to fashion retailing, advertising, exhibition, health and well-being. The works were chosen to specifically explore the people-centred focus of my design approach. They illustrate how my design ethos and methodology evolved to prioritise empathy for, and understanding of, the sensory experience of the interior’s occupants.

My practice as an interior designer spans over thirty years and I have designed and implemented interiors internationally. Throughout my career I have constantly been inspired by the sensibility of Japanese design and culture. This study is entitled The Interior, The Experiencer, Kokoro – Towards the Essence of Place, because the ‘experiencer’, my neologism, is central to my design process and kokoro is a Japanese term that can be translated as heart of things, spirit or feeling. I believe that it is kokoro and its intangibility in relation to aesthetics that draws me to Japan and I constantly seek to embed it in my own work. The influence of traditional Japanese aesthetics in terms of simplicity, emptiness and refined sensibility, led to my preoccupation with phenomenology of place. As a result an objective to elevate the quality of our ordinary everyday experience and actions underpins and interweaves through all of the public works reflected on here.

These designs, also inspired by the writing of Tanazaki, Pallasmaa, Böhme, and others like-minded as referenced, offer evidence of a timely haptic counterpoint to the easy distraction of the visual sense and two dimensional excess of today’s digital realm. In so doing, they attest interior design as a multidisciplinary practice that is informed by and has allegiance with the domains of philosophy, psychology, anthropology, humanities and history, as well as architecture and the visual arts.

I argue that whether interior design adheres to the guiding principles of Modernism, follows fashionable trends, faces creative constraints of commerciality, or confronts challenges from the visually dominated epistemology of the internet, physical sensory experience should be the primary concern. Emotive feeling should therefore lead over function in directing interior form. Furthermore a move towards articulating an aesthetic of atmosphere as illustrated in these works is more likely to instil and evoke kokoro - the essence of each place.

Item Type: Doctorate by Public Works
Research Areas: A. > School of Art and Design
B. > Doctorates by Public Works
Item ID: 33429
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Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2021 15:47
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2022 14:43

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