The Aesthetic Interior as Incubator of Health and Well-Being
Richard W. Hayes
|Médium:||article de revue|
|Publié dans:||Architectural History, 2017, v. 60|
Domestic interiors created during the Aesthetic Movement have often been interpreted in terms of the ideas of aesthetic autonomy associated with Théophile Gautier, Walter Pater and Joris-Karl Huysmans. This essay takes a different tack by analysing the aesthetic interior in light of concerns with health reform. It focuses on the writings and designs of architect E.W. Godwin (1833–86) who pursued interior design as part of an effort to foster a healthy life, one that consisted of hygiene, relief from urban stress, and an enlargement of the aesthetic responsiveness of his clients. He conceived of spare and calm interiors that were healthful alternatives to dust-infested Victorian clutter while concomitantly offering psychological respite from the ‘high-pressure, nervous times' endemic to metropolitan life. This goal accords with Godwin's related interest in dress reform, a preoccupation that led to his participation in the Health Exhibition of 1884. By unpacking Godwin's specific contribution to the sanitary discussions that prevailed in Victorian Britain, I align the aesthetic interior with the central imperative of sanitary reform: promoting health through ameliorating Britain's urban environment.
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