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The Poetic Home

Designing the 19th-Century Domestic Interior

Stefan Muthesius

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'For anyone interested in this important part of 19th-century social history, this book should become required reading' Contemporary Review


Today we take for granted notions of designing rooms to achieve the right ‘mood’. Yet this language only emerged in the 19th century, when designers and clients began to think about interiors in a completely new way. Their challenge was to create atmosphere and character in ordinary living – the new ideal of the 'poetic home'.

This book examines domestic interiors from around 1800 to the mid-1890s. Rather than concentrating on individual types of furnishing (wallpapers or carpets, for example) or on historical styles (Regency or Biedermeier), it considers the design of the interior as a whole, making use of neglected 19th-century texts and images to reveal what the designers and clients actually thought about the business of creating characterful interiors.

Comprehensive and full of fresh insights, this extraordinary work of scholarship is essential reading for anyone interested in interior design.

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'Required reading way outside the narrow definition implied by the title'
The Art Newspaper

'Superbly illustrated and supplied with a detailed, thematic bibliography, the major achievement of the book is in satisfying the needs and pleasures of a wide spectrum of people interested in interior design, including professionals and more general readers'
The Art Book

'Carefully conceived and deeply evocative … one of the most important publications in the field for years'
Home Cultures

'Profound, well-informed and factually rich … an astounding source of textual and pictorial material, which will be a lasting enrichment to further research in the area of interior design'
The Victorian

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 30.8 x 23.8 cm

Extent: 352 pp

Illustrations: 396

Publication date: 9 February 2009

ISBN: 9780500514191

Contents List

Modernity, Anti-Modernity, Comfort and Décor since 1800 • I. A Poetic Everyday Home? • II. ‘Art in the Home’: A New Discourse • III. The Unified Interior: Decoration to Design • IV. Atmosphere • V. National and Vernacular Revivals • VI. A Disparate Legacy

About the Author

Stefan Muthesius is a specialist in the 18th to 20th century history of architecture, urban design, and applied arts and design. His book The English Terraced House won the Sir Banister Fletcher Prize.