THEORY with Anne Hoogewoning (Tutor Theory Course) and Louise Schouwenberg (Tutor Graduation Thesis)
Numerous theorists and designers, from interior architects to anthropologists and philosophers, reflect in depth on the field covered by INSIDE. After all, interventions by designers have a profound effect on the living and working environments of people and also have major implications for the functioning of society as a whole. Future designers must possess an understanding of the most relevant theories related to their profession. Moreover, they must be capable of investigating the complexity of design commissions from various angles. Only then can substantive considerations contribute productively to the design process, and vice versa, can the design process positively influence reflection on the profession. Therefore the Theory course combines theory and research skills, providing a theoretical framework for student assignments in the studios, which all deal with specific contexts and requirements. During the two-year course the students acquire tools to link theory, critical reflection and analysis to their design process. To this end, various forms of learning are employed among others: reading and analyzing key texts that encourage discussion and debate, actively participating in discussions about the profession with fellow students and professionals, writing texts and presenting research and personal insights.
At INSIDE, the THEORY and Writing course aims for deepening understanding, strengthening basic and essential research skills, and developing an individual approach to research themes. Research here is taken to mean: systematic, critical reflection on the basis of a concrete question and definition of a topical issue or problem. The students will consult valid literature and other sources, with the aim of acquiring knowledge that offers answers to the questions posed. In general, the research encompasses the history of the profession and the discourse led by important thinkers and designers, as well as acquiring knowledge on various social and cultural contexts, which are either suggested by the tutors or chosen by the students themselves (in the second year). The aim is to stimulate students to develop a distinct attitude towards a theme, which is based on personal observations, reflections and analyses. This distinct attitude will help them take the right decisions during the design process and find their own position within this field of expertise After all, that is the moment when theory is tested in practice. In this way the theory course creates an intellectual climate in which students can prepare in the best possible way for their future roles as designers.
Students work around 14 days per semester on the theoretical framework of the given spatial context provided by the STUDIO topics. The final report of this framework always consists of a text in combination with visual material. To get the students acquainted with different approaches and writing styles the first year students will practice writing a manifest, a review, an essay and a thesis as a preview for the graduation thesis in the second year. Presenting thoughts and writing is, in a way, similar to designing: to establish a structure, taking into account all competing factors, applies as much to design decisions as it does to writing decisions. Obviously critical reflection is also about finding out how things work, about what would be relevant, or irrelevant for a specific situation, time and place. And even more important: a text also offers an opportunity for testing ideas before students implement them in a studio project. Students work (partly) in groups and are guided individually.
The year 2014-2015 the overall theme is ‘controlled space’ in which we explore the increasing tendencies of our current society to empower and control (semi-) public space. Especially in The Hague as a centre of global administration of justice hosting 160 institutions concerned with international crime, the question how space is controlled, is extremely appropriate.
Although the space in the city seems to be free, gradually public and private actors are injecting controlling mechanisms into public space in the name of security.
What are the mechanisms and spatial implications of observation networks and permanent supervision? Do they affect the behaviour of the citizens? And in which way do they influence the design and experience of our built environment?
At the beginning of the year a workshop was organized in cooperation with the Ramallah Art School and with the STROOM project “See you in The Hague”. For more information: KABK workshop controlled space
THEORY PROGRAMME 2013/2014
The shopping street as a phenomenon of capitalist globalization within a digital world
Shopping has become the most dominant mode of contemporary public life. Worldwide there is a strong tendency that public spaces transform into spaces of commercial activities devoted to the culture-ideology of consumerism. Especially for young people shopping areas have become a third place, a space between home and school, to gather and to put aside the concerns of home (the first place) and school (the second place). For them commercial places are spots where they meet, interact, socialize and not necessarily for buying products.
At the same time we see how above all secondary cities are struggling vacancy rates in shopping streets. In some of the non-globalised regions in the Netherlands more then 10% of the shops are empty. It is estimated that this percentage will grow the coming years. This tendency does not apply only to the Netherlands. Besides the crisis and the popularity of online shopping, also changing consumer tastes had its effect across suburban America: in the last decade more then 400 shopping malls turned into ghost buildings, some of them stayed empty almost as soon as they had opened.
Despite the persistently high number of empty shops in non-globalised regions, large-scale shopping centers are being build in capitalist cities, trying to fulfill with the needs and desires of a public longing for a third-place experience. How will city centers survive the rise of the twenty-first century virtual space turning shopping either into a cultural or digital activity? Which design tools are needed to counter with empty shop windows and abandoned streets, particularly in the non-globalised cities? And how will the shopping street of the future look like in a society where due to the crisis the exchange economy is becoming more popular?
These and other questions will be explored by the students of the master interior architecture INSIDE in the first semester of the Theory and Writing program. Various shopping typologies, from the first indoor shopping centers (the arcades of 19th century Paris) to the market hall of MVRDV at Rotterdam will be examined, as well as new phenomena such as the pop-up store and the virtual store with the latest trends. In South Korea for example you don’t need to go to the supermarket anymore; you can buy your products with your smart phone while waiting in a subway station or at a bus stop. The time you arrive home your products are delivered. Besides types of shops more thematic subjects related to consumer behaviorism and visual merchandizing will be investigated by some students.
We will read some key texts by, among others, Walter Benjamin, Jean Baudrillard and Mark Pimlott, look at documentaries, compose a substantial bibliography and collect all information brought together by the students into an almanac. This ‘shopping almanac’ will also include the presentations held by the students as well as one text written individually at the end of the semester about the results of their research (for the first year student 2xA4 and second year 3xA4).
21 October 2013 Anne Hoogewoning
THEORY PROGRAMME 2011-2013
THEORY 2011-2013 was led by Louise Schouwenberg.
She currently works as head of the Master Programme Contextual Design at Design Academy Eindhoven and as Theory Tutor at INSIDE.