Impossible Totality and Domesticity:

Designed interiors as monsters



Interior, Totality, Spatial design, Designed interiors


The unbecoming is inevitable and necessary. Design seeks an encompassing totality of vision that treats the world as an interior. Ancient cosmologies order place from the familiar (home) to the beyond (divine). To approach the divine exceeds human capacity and is thus monstrous. Literary morality tales warn us of the hubris of our quest for perfection; contemporary design offers similar examples: uninhabitable minimalism; pastoral landscape simulacra; the unheimlich Modern; anxious and oppressive transparency. The article presents three cases of unbecoming monsters: Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Pawson, and the claim for perfection; Narcissus, Marie Antoinette, and the reflexive gaze; Mary Shelley, Mies van der Rohe, and the Belgian Blue. Each exemplifies an overreach in design that abandons the domestic and whose resulting unheimlichkeit provokes an uncanny reaction. The concluding section addresses the process of designing from a position opposite to the desire for totality. Designing interiors for people embraces imperfection, not as a weakness, but as an antidote for creating divine monsters.


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How to Cite

“Impossible Totality and Domesticity:: Designed Interiors As Monsters”. 2013. Idea Journal 13 (1):20-35.



Design Research Paper