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Stanley Abercrombie - Philosophy of Interior Design

Most books of interior design are rather lightweight in the philosophy department. This book makes up for all the rest. It is definitely not lightweight and it's wonderful! Part of the joy of this is its liberal quoting of other authors. The result is too quotable to resist. So I'm not resisting --- here goes: "A threshold is a sacred thing." (Porphyrus in the third century), "In a small room one does not say what one would in a large room." (Louis Kahn, architect), "If, in a crowded situation, four people are forced to sit together on a couch, the quality and quantity of conversation among these four will be nothing to write home about." (Albert Mehrabian, environmental psychologist), "An excessive love of detail has ruined more fine things from the standpoint of fine art than any human shortcoming. Too many homes, when not little stage settings or sene paintings, are mere notion stores, bazaars or junk shops. Decoration is dangerous unless understood thoroughly, unless you know that it means something good in the scheme as a whole…" (Frank Lloyd Wright), "An innately vacant room never breathes the sort of tiredness peculiar to our well-furnished ones." (Bernard Rudofsky, Behind the Picture Window), "We take patterns too much for granted. We should learn to plunge our minds into them, as we do into the sea of poetry, and to receive as sharp an impression of an age from its ornament as we do from its literature." Joan Evans, author), "I think it is worthless and of no use whatsover to speak of the characteristics of the individual colours. When we do it, we are really only thinking of special uses." (Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosopher), "Practice showed me that the joy of white explodes only when surrounded by the powerful hum of color." (Le Corbusier, architect).

There is much to think about in this fine book. The author states early on that it is not his goal to set forth a single comprehensive philosophy, but rather "to look at the elements of interior design in a way that might aid interior designers in the formulation of individual philosophies for their own work." I especially enjoyed how he divided furnishings into three basic categories: "those that serve our bodies, those that serve our possessions and those that serve only our senses."

I think of oatmeal as a stick-to-your-ribs kind of food. I think of this book as a stick-to-your-brain kind of book.

Harper & Row, New York, 1990, 0-06-430194-X, 180 pages, black and white photographs and drawings, paperback

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