Underground interiors

Norma Skurka and Oberto Gili UNDERGROUND INTERIORS

PG 1 – Underground interiors is not, as one might mistakenly infer from the title, an exploration into caves and subterranean living spaces. Rather, it is an exploration into the revolt against old concepts of décor and old ways of living – a look at the new living environments closely linked to recent developments in art, politics, and the press, all of which have taken the name ‘underground’ to distinguish them from their establishment counterparts. These anti- establishment interiors are whimsical, mischievous, simple, incredible, beautiful, obsessive, and dreamy……The interiors in this book may also indicate that something in our society has gone wrong and that what is needed to set right is a profound change in our priorities, which go far beyond the mere trappings of the home an enter the arena of social and political responsibility. What has caused the revolution in the way some people are thinking about design and living environments? The answer – the theme of this bokk- is a rejection of the traditional ideas and concepts that aren’t working and, worse, seem to be leading the world to doom. The revolt centers on the conventional status symbols of fashionable design and decoration and also on the seriousness of modern architecture – neither of which leaves room for the emotional outpouring of creative personalities, artists, counterculture groups, and just plain people. The reasons for the revolt are endemic to our society. The commercialism of everyday existence, the blatant bombardment of our senses by advertisements on TV, radio, and billboards, has caused many of us to feel a revulsion for the collecting of material things……………. Who is creating the underground interiors? There are, of course, architects, interior designers, and artists (who have always been the rebels and prophets of any age) who create them more or less consciously. But on a less calculating level there are also movie stars, fashion designers, and celebrities, who create hem simply out of a need to express their own individuality. And there is youth everywhere for whom the generation gap has caused the contradictions of society to seem especially ludicrous and bizarre, who in their ‘pads’ are evolving new modes and life styles. Youth has already turned the fashion industry upside down – no one can have failed to notice the revolution that ripped through the fashion world in the last two years.

Pg 3 – Man today has revolted against this rigid logic that forms the cornerstone of western thought. He has even turned to eastern concepts – to mysticism, to astrology, and sometimes to the occult – to find solace from the pat formulas that led to our present society and its problems. Architects, too, are turning away from the egotism of creating monuments to themselves – an accusation leveled at them about some of their buildings. Also, many young architects are embarrassed to design expensive custom-built mansions for the rich while such a large part of the world goes homeless and cities decay. They have entered the age of advocacy architecture, where participation in planning groups that can exert political pressure to improve the lot of the population as a whole is more meaningful than playing at being master-builder to a handful. The problems of the twentieth century have jolted us all into a new reality. Present social pressures and constraints, overpopulation and pollution, the high-sped march of industrialism, the crime rate, and the frustration we feel in our inability to influence the policies of our government are all bound up in the present revolt in interior design and architecture. The intense pressures of the times beg for a new beginning and some of the first indications of its arrival…There is no heavy gloom, or overpowering moroseness pervading these interiors. Rather, there is humor, wit, flippancy, daring, and audacity proving that man is indeed a thinking animal not so easily fooled by the line that society has given him to swallow. Like cryptic graffiti on the wall, the sentiments that these interiors express cut through the malaise of contemporary existence. Underground interiors mirror the false premises by which we have lived in the past. They prove, moreover, that we can no longer throw up the smoke screen of materialism that status, prestige and privilege are no longer valid value symbols for mankind………..We discern a philosophical basis for design and architecture that is utopian in its idealism. Interior in the chapter that deals with environmental design foretell the death of the cult of the object – indeed, the elimination of all extraneous objects, leaving pure, geometric spaces where the individual alone is all-important. The differentiation between architecture and interior design disappears as furnishings merge into planes of the room. Such interiors become spaces for super man, could mankind ever achieve this plateau of being.

Pg :4 Surrealist interiors: Nowhere are the absurd conditions of contemporary life exposed so devastatingly as in the surrealist interior. These interiors are blatant in their disdain of traditional and conventional concepts of decoration and nothing escapes their caustic cynicism. Like the surrealist movement in art following World War I, surrealism in interiors feeds upon the very unreality of today’s reality. The surrealist interior overlaps and shares many elements with the pop interior. It differs from it only in its sardonic humor and in the more sinister aspects of its creators’ discontent with present status symbols. The designers and owners of these rooms seen to enjoy the most outrageous put-down of society, all it stands for and holds dear. Exquisite antiques and fashionable furniture, for instance, are renounced for foam lumps in garnish covers; walls are splashed with ‘funky’ paint colours or draped in the dernier cri of the commercial furniture houses last year – wet vinyl. Such an interior not only explodes the inherent faddishness in such advertisement by exploiting its grotesqueness in draped walls but also uses it in draperies that create a kind of falsetto parody of the scallops of slippery satin traditionally used. In one interior, an enormous wedding cake made of edible hardened sugar frosting (that guests are invited to nibble) occupies the center of the kitchen, forms the table, and is the centerpiece. It might be construed as a symbol of the relentless consumption of today’s civilization – a society reared to consume everything with insatiable appetite – the planets raw materials as well as the endless stream of commercial products – a society chomping through the natural and commercial landscape like a swarm of locusts. Another indictment is leveled against society by the many interiors decorated with plastic plants. They seem to say that if nature is plundered for manufacturing, then we must learn to adjust to a world that synthesizes natural forms. Here, the eerie greenery in the form of paintings, pillows, and murals that simulate leaves or plants warns us to get ready for the consequences of a denuded world. Though some surrealist interiors can be dismissed as grotesque, many of them are remarkably pleasing and fantastical the stairwell, for instance, with its mural of wildlife and animals mimics a Rousseau painting….

Pg 6: Rather than forecasting the lifestyle of the future, these fantasy interiors are a loud but temporary protest. It is likely that the people who created them this year will tire of their own harangue and go on to make environments that give a more hopeful view of the future. A civilization that once valued artistry, craftsmanship, and a beauty that now entombs these objects in museums the world over cannot adjust to stark ugliness. The real value of surrealist interiors is the ideas presented by their creators. Seeing so clearly the consequences of our present way of life, their outrageous commentaries shock us into rethinking our values.

Pg: 26, Environments: In the last ten years the word ‘environment’ has experienced what might be described as an ever-increasing vogue. The term crops up everywhere – in posters, on lapel buttons, in magazine articles and newspapers, and even on car bumper stickers. For all its iniquitousness, it is quite a new idea when applied to architecture and interior design. Yet, the concept of environmental design is certainly the most important development of this century as it relates to the future of housing and its furnishings and equipment. This relatively new – and portentous – concept, the living environment or environmental design, is still widely misunderstood. These terms are often used to describe more what they are not than what they actually are. To come to a true understanding of environmental design it is necessary to examine the term, where it originally came from, and how it differs from all previous schools of architecture and design. The word ‘environment’ was originally picked up from ecological research to describe the interaction on a living organism of all the physical, biological and climatic conditions that influence its growth and survival. In its reference to homosapiens, the environment carries similar connotations. The living environment for man and thus, environmental design, is concerned with the sum total of physical, social, psychological, and cultural conditions that influence the growth and survival of an individual or a community. These last considerations are precisely what differentiate environmental design from all previous design movements. In the past , design and architecture sought to enshrine the accomplishments of man. Cathedrals, temples, royal palaces, even fortresses seemed to identify the heights that a particular civilization had scaled – and they were intricately bound up in deifying and perpetuating the status quo. The advent of the twentieth century saw the disintegration of many of the institutions that these buildings stood for, the powerful religion of the middle ages, for expel, or the royal dynasties of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Now man kind has embarked on a new route – based on its increasing awareness of how its supposed progress could, in fact, be contributing directly to mans demise and death. Thus, design, art, and architecture have changed the focus of their pursuits. The more enlightened architects and designers are becoming aware of the role they play in the disintegration of living conditions on this planet. The products that they have been designing foul the air by their manufacture and then litter the landscape by their disposal. Building, no matter how well designed, displace the forests and the plant life needed to cleanse the atmosphere. …… The concern of architects and designers and many ordinary citizens with the growth and preservation of our civilization and their hope of mapping a way out of our present predicament is the basis of environmental design. It is design that takes into first consideration its effect on the environment – the effect not only of the individual house with its four walls and roof, but also of the entire natural environment, earth. Obviously, a handsome eighteenth- century Parisian townhouse filled with Louis XV antiques has little to say about the conditions of present day civilization, or its growth and survival. Everything that we see, touch, talk to , sit on, sleep in, and read is part of an individual environment – as much as are our family, the stars , the H bomb, wars, and the government. That our habitation can influence our psychological growth is something of which we are just becoming aware. We are gradually moving away from a possession-oriented mentality toward a possession-less, psychic, mind oriented mentality, and it is showing up in our design and architecture. Environmental design seeks to place man, habitation, object, and society in their appropriate twentieth-century perspective. The living environment of the twentieth century is a web of functional and esthetic relationships. One flows into the other, is influenced, limited, or expanded by its relationship to all other factors. Environmental design is primarily a streamlining of our living habits, and thus, of our habitations. There is today an acute awareness of space and its psychological effect on us all….The growing population with its ravenous need for hous es has put living space at a premium. ..Our individual space is becoming more and more confined. Environmental design stems from the renewed awareness of our space, and the fact that it is shrinking or disappearing, as well as from the extreme complications and demands of contemporary life. What style shall my living room be? What colour, shall I wallpaper or paint? Wall-to-wall or area rugs? Acrilan, nylon, or wool? Neutral or patterned? How ridiculously confusing and meaningless are these questions to the growth and survival of mankind – and to the preservation of its ultimate environment, the fragile planet earth! Environmental design seeks to do away with much of this senseless confusion. There are still decisions to be made, of course. But largely, the living environment is relatively anonymous and is interchangeable for various occupants. It is a sculptural shell that presupposes an almost ideal existence – at its optimum; the individual environment is spatially free. Satisfaction and serenity come from the inner personal calm of its inhabitant reflected externally by simple, free surroundings. Rooms are space, uncluttered by bureaus, chairs, tables, or ‘things.’ Chairs are cushions sculpted into the space. Lights are unobtrusive – recessed or hidden, built in where needed for general illumination or as highlights for reading and working. Storage is concealed behind panels. There is less of it because there is less desire to hoard possessions that are instantly obsolete.

With reading this book I became very disinterest with its readings and images, the book had an interesting opening it grabbed my attention but then when it defined into more detail I become bored and lost interest the book, seems ancient and doesn’t seem to go into any interesting points other than look at how this room is horribly decorated and look how this other image is decorated. I think there is a far more interesting version to underground interiors and the title is highly wasted on this book.


About hannahruthkellett

I am currently doing my Masters in interior design, this blog is to reflect and inspire my progress through out my time on the course. View all posts by hannahruthkellett

One response to “Underground interiors

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