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The conference theme ‘Between excess and austerity’ indicates a division which has shaped the discipline of interior design during the twentieth century. This paper is the outcome of a desire to open up this binary relation which continually dogs the practice
of interior design. The writings of Gilles Deleuze, in particular his attempt to ‘overturn Platonism’, are used as a tool to lever and open up possibilities for thinking differently. The immediate effect is that in between excess and austerity one encounters an ‘and’ – excess and austerity – hence the title of the paper ‘di-vision/ double vision’. Rather than between or either/or, it is both. This produces a blurring of vision which problematises the distinction made between interior design and interior decoration based on questions of excess and austerity as one equated with ornamentation versus the essentialism of a minimal aesthetic. This paper considers three familiar modernist surfaces from the twentieth century. Looking through glasses provided by the writings of Deleuze, the Platonic nature of the surfaces is apparent but so too are other ways of viewing these surfaces – division becomes di-vision or double vision and the possibilities for other ways of thinking and doing proliferate. The question of excess and austerity shifts from one of ‘to decorate or not?’ to one where the binary is blurred and the between becomes ‘and’ rather than a between of moderation. This involves an epistemological shift from a search for essences and ideals to an encounter with surfaces where meaning and events happen in which the proliferating intensity of life can be both austere and excessive.
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