Interiorism

Interiorism
   "Interiorism" in its strictest sense is a specialist activity akin to interior design, and is concerned with planning indoor living or recreational spaces. In Catalonia, however, the term has taken on a different connotation, and denotes an approach to architecture which was originally influenced by interior designers. This development can be attributed to the importance of the prizes awarded annually by the Barcelona FAD (Foment de les Arts Decoratives—Institute for the Encouragement of Decorative Arts, a private body founded in 1902), to the best architectural designs. There are two distinct categories: architecture and interior architecture ("interiorism"). In the 1970s several of the entries presented by "interiorist" architects were much more courageous and imaginative than those in the "architecture" category. "Interiorism" consequently became the research laboratory for new forms of expression, and by the 1980s strictly "architectural" works began to display characteristics previously exclusive to the "interiorists". It is an approach which borrows some of the methods and attitudes of visual spectacle, avoiding the conformism of much contemporary architecture, and cultivating effects of surprise. "Interiorism" stimulated a countercurrent within contemporary Catalan architecture, and its results are particularly noticeable in Barcelona in the 1980s and 1990s. The FAD prizes provide very interesting evidence of the changes in Catalan culture. Though they were first awarded in 1958, the intention behind them goes back a long way. In 1899 the Ajuntament de Barcelona (Corporation of Barcelona) decided that a panel consisting mainly of architects would adjudicate on the award of a prize to the best building constructed that year. The prize for 1900 was awarded to Gaudí for his Casa Calvet, which continued to serve as a model for a long time after. From 1902 onwards the Corporation created a special prize for the interiors of public buildings, awarded in 1903 to Domènech i Montaner for his Fonda España. These panels continued to function under the auspices of the city council until 1912, and their activities coincided with the great creative period of Modernism. The FAD's purpose in reviving these annual competitions in 1958 was to revitalize architectural practice by trying to recapture the heady excitement of Catalan Modernism. The fact that Barcelona is once again, at the end of the twentieth century, a city in which architectural debate is uniquely intense, suggests that this purpose has been achieved. By giving international prominence to the originality of Catalan architecture, the FAD Prizes highlight the extent to which it has been influenced by "Interiorism".
   See also: architects; architecture; design
   Further reading
   - Moldoveanu, M. (1996) Barcelona: Architectures of Exuberance, Barcelona: Lunwerg (an overview of different periods and styles, richly illustrated with photographs by the author).
   MIHAIL MOLDOVEANU

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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