The Neglected Landscape: How Do We Put Canadian Interiors on the Map?
Canada is often pictured as vast territory of wilderness and wide-open spaces. Yet most of Canadian life plays out in interior spaces. These spaces dominate our daily life, frame memories, and can hold the traces of our histories. Interiors are also particularly challenging spaces for traditional heritage policy, as they are notoriously fluid, changing, and ever evolving to meet new needs and desires. Compounding the problem, the ‘designers’ of interiors—interior decorators and interior designers, not to mention amateurs and everyday users—are often underrepresented in histories of the built environment. What happens when we amplify their narratives? How might the history of interior design, and interiors generally, change the picture of Canada? What challenges do interiors pose to heritage and how do we meet them? What kinds of spaces lend themselves well to narrating histories of Canada and what stories are being told?
This roundtable brings together interior designers, planners and design historians into conversation around these questions. After a brief introduction to the discussion by Michael Windover, the group will address the questions from their area of expertise: Dorothy Stern from the standpoint of interior design education; Lois Weinthal on approaching interiors from a critical theoretical perspective; Stuart Lazear from a heritage planning perspective; and Stephanie Radu on house museums as case studies for exploring interior design history. We hope to generate a fruitful discussion that will highlight the potential of interior design in critical heritage studies.