Author: Phillipe Rahm
Published by -HEAD Geneva
10.5 x 17 cm
ISBN 978-2-94010-79-5

Price: 68 lei

At the crossroads of architecture, aesthetics and engineering sciences, this book aims to shed light on the unthought-of return of utilitarian decorative arts in the fight against global warming, and to constitute an encyclopaedic catalogue of decorative elements with ancient typologies (carpets, tapestries, curtains, mirrors, etc.) updated according to today's scientific knowledge: thermal effusivity, emissivity, conduction, reflectance, etc.

Until the beginning of the 20th century, interior decoration in the West had a practical role: to fight the cold, to amplify the light or to block cold draughts. A carpet was used to prevent cold feet, a tapestry to thermally insulate the walls; the crystals in chandeliers, like mirrors or gilding, were there to amplify the weak, solitary light of candles and small windows; a folding screen served to block the wind, curtains to block draughts. The arrival of central heating, air conditioning and electric lighting at the turn of the 20th century made this primary utilitarian and climatic raison d'être of interior design obsolete – thanks to the massive use of fossil fuels. Old decorative devices were therefore discarded in favour of the clean, minimalist, empty white interiors characteristic of 20th century modernity – an aesthetic underpinned by the CO2 emissions of oil-fired boilers and coal-fired power stations.

Today, with the need to reduce buildings’ carbon footprints and fight against heat waves, new thermal and energy reduction requirements are appearing, including the call for 20cm of thermal insulation in walls. One may wonder if this thermal insulation is not in fact a new form of tapestry in all but name – one that would unconsciously mark a return to interior decoration. If the modern style of the 20th century stemmed from carbon energies, wasting without limit resources and energy to heat and light, the decarbonisation of the building is inducing, without us realising it, a new decorative style specific to the 21st century, where thermal performance, carbon footprint and ecology redefine the interior’s formal and material choices, and finally their aesthetic, cultural,and social value.

The challenge for interior architecture is to reactivate interior design’s practical sense as it existed before the 20th century, going beyond its apparently futile character to invent new modes of laying out – new spatial, formal and material configurations, available to interior designers and architects: a decorative aesthetic specific to the 21st century, which we propose to call ‘anthropocene style’.