Tag: Interiors

The Nowaks’

Collected Items 01.08.13

I pushed open the door and, in doing so, jarred the handle of the frying pan on the stove which stood just behind it. In the tiny kitchen there was barely room for the two of us together. A stifling smell of potatoes fried in cheap margarine filled the flat.

The living room had a sloping ceiling stained with old patches of damp. It contained a big table, six chairs, a sideboard and two large double-beds. The place was so full of furniture that you had to squeeze your way into it sideways.

I descended slowly the five flights of stairs to the courtyard. The bottom of the court was clammy and dark, although the sun was shining on a cloud in the sky overhead. Broken buckets, wheels off prams and bits of bicycle tyre lay scattered about like things which have fallen down a well.

Christopher Isherwood, Goodbye To Berlin (Penguin: Harmondsworth, [1939] 1958) pp. 102-106.

Vile Bodies

Collected Items 04.03.12

Adam sat in front of the fire in a deep armchair.  Outside the rain beat on the double windows.  There were several magazines in the library – mostly cheap weeklies devoted to the cinema.  There was a stuffed owl and a case of early British remains, bone pins and bits of pottery and a skull, which had been dug up in the park many years ago and catalogued by Nina’s governess.  There was a cabinet containing the relics of Nina’s various collecting fevers – some butterflies and a beetle or two, some fossils and some birds’ eggs and a few postage stamps.  There were some bookcases of superbly unreadable books, a gun, a butterfly net, an alpenstock in the corner.  There were catalogues of agricultural machines and acetylene plants, lawn mowers, ‘sports requisites’.  There was a fire screen worked with a coat of arms.  The chimney piece was hung with the embroidered saddle-cloths of Colonel Blount’s regiment of Lancers.  There was an engraving of all the members of the Royal Yacht Squadron, with a little plan in the corner, marked to show who was who.  There were many other things of equal interest besides, but before Adam had noticed any more he was fast asleep.

Evelyn Waugh, Vile Bodies (Penguin: Harmondsworth, 1958) p. 72.

The System of Objects

Collected Items 20.02.12

Consider a nondescript, light, foldable table or a bed without legs, frame or canopy – an absolute cipher of a bed, one might say: all such objects, with their ‘pure’ outlines, no longer resemble even what they are; they have been stripped down to their most primitive essence as mere apparatus and, as it were, definitively secularized.  What has been liberated in them – and what, in being liberated, has liberated something in man (or rather, perhaps, what man, in liberating himself, has liberated in them) – is their function.  The function is no longer obscured by the moral theatricality of the old furniture; it is emancipated now from ritual, from ceremonial, from the entire ideology which used to make our surroundings into an opaque mirror of a reified human structure.  Today, at last, these objects emerge absolutely clear about the purposes they serve.  They are thus indeed free as functional objects – that is, they have the freedom to function, and (certainly so far as serial objects are concerned) that is practically the only freedom they have.  Now, just so long as the object is liberated only in its function, man equally is liberated only as user of that object.  This too is progress, though not a decisive turning-point.  A bed is a bed, a chair is a chair, and there is no relationship between them so long as each serves only the function it is supposed to serve.  And without such a relationship there can be no space, for space exists only when it is opened up, animated, invested with rhythm and expanded by a correlation between objects and a transcendence of their functions in this new structure.  In a way space is the object’s true freedom, whereas its function is merely its formal freedom.  The bourgeois dining-room was structured, but its structure was closed.  The functional environment is more open, freer, but it is destructured, fragmented into its various functions.  Somewhere between the two, in the gap between integrated psychological space and fragmented functional space, serial objects have their being, witnesses to both the one and the other – sometimes within a single interior.

Baudrillard, Jean The System of Objects trans. by James Benedict (Verso:London, 2005) pp. 16-17