At the heart of the Centres research is a broad-ranging analytical
survey of the ways that western interiors have been represented over time.
A key feature of the Core Project is the compilation of a database of visual
and textual sources representing the domestic interior from 1400 to the
present. The Core Project links and informs a series of more detailed Focused
Studies (see link), which involve in-depth research into a variety of
aspects of the domestic interior in particular places and periods.
research projects are comparative across time and space and share a set
of common questions, in particular:
What are the limitations and possibilities of the available sources
for studying the history of the domestic interior?
What is the relationship between precept and practice in the history
of the domestic interior?
What are the criteria aesthetic, functional, and experiential
by which domestic interiors have been judged?
! Did womens cultural association with the domestic sphere
translate into control of the appearance and use of the domestic interior?
What have been the long-term processes of specialization in the
use and character of domestic spaces, objects, and decoration?
What have domestic interiors represented to those who experienced
Has the physical and visual character of the interior constituted
a system for the regulation of behaviour?
To what extent have domestic interiors been sites of production?
How useful is the distinction between élite and vernacular
for analyzing the history of domestic spaces?
The methods used to answer these questions will vary according to the
evidence available for different places and periods. Such methods include
the critical analysis of images, objects, architectural plans and drawings,
inventories and wills, letters and diaries, periodicals and advice manuals,
novels and plays, as well as surviving interiors. Work on the twentieth
century and after also involves the use of oral history and ethnography.