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Naomi House

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  • Naomi House is an Interior Designer, Educator and Writer with an approach to the Interior that is framed through forensic investigation. A Tutor in Critical and Historical Studies and Liaison Tutor for Interior Design at the Royal College of Art, she is also a Senior Lecturer in Interior Architecture and Leader in Spatial Cultures and Critical Contexts at Middlesex University.    

  • Biography

  • Naomi is an experienced academic and designer. With a 1st Class BA (Hons) in Interior Design and an MSc in Architecture from the Bartlett, UCL, she worked in practice for a number of years for clients including the RIBA, Anish Kapoor and the Tate, and has taught at the Bartlett – UCL and London Metropolitan University. 

    Naomi’s particular expertise is in the field of interiors, contextualised within the broad landscape of architectural, environmental and theoretical discourse. Involved in the writing and development of undergraduate and postgraduate courses across the disciplines of architecture and design, she specialises in the relationship between ‘the studio’ and ‘contextual studies’, and how these might correspond to establish a rigorous field of enquiry that situates research and practice in the same space. 

    Naomi is a founding member and Superintendent of C.I.D – the Council of Inordinate Design.  Alongside her colleagues Barry Curtis and Monika Parrinder she is currently editing a collection of essays for Routledge that stems from a College-Wide Symposium at the RCA in February 2015 entitled The CSI of Things: Crimes Scenes and Suspect Objects.  This publication is part of a larger research project that focuses on forensic methods as a strategy for exploring and questioning how objects, environments and their interactions can be analysed, interpreted and animated. C.I.D have a long-standing interest in detective fiction, ghosts and haunting, and thinking about ‘things’ as signs and elements in ‘mise en scenes’, revealing their extraordinary instability, and potency. One ambition is to test the potentialities of recent philosophical and curatorial engagements with ‘the object’ and their contextualised interactions.

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  • Practice

  • With a rigorous approach to ‘reading’ buildings and articulating relationships between old and new, Naomi’s own research and practice in this area is concerned with the interrogation of the interior - rather than assume that the ‘interior’ presents as the inert witness to the events of our lives, she is looking to reveal it to be an active participant in the dramatisation of the everyday - as a scene that constructs and enables different behaviours and modes of inhabitation.

    Naomi is further interested in the post-occupancy of buildings – in their seemingly silent afterlives - what can be construed from the traces of inhabitation – what evidence is left behind – and how might this evidence be animated and narrated, and further used to drive forward an innovative design language?  Adopting a forensic approach to these investigations, her current research is concerned with making visible the hidden biographies of the ‘interior’ through a process of perceiving every surface as contaminated, each situated object as suspect and all protagonists as guilty.  Positioning the designed interior as a pseudo crime scene, she is exploring the complex ‘entanglement’ of people, environments and things that are brought together through fictionalising their interactions and engagements. Thresholds and other liminal devices are another perennial interest, particularly where they provoke and reveal the edge condition, or where they blur places and typologies.    

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    • External collaborations

    • MRes Visual Cultures Project Team at Middlesex University with Professor Nicholas Mirzoeff, Catherine Dormer, Susan Pui Lok and Luke White.

      Member of the Making Places Research Cluster at Middlesex University.

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    • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

    • Naomi is currently co-authoring as essay with Harriet Harriss called ‘Feeling Dirty, Doing It’ investigating feminism and feminisation within Interior Design Practice, to be published in a forthcoming book, A Gendered Profession. She is also currently working on a collaborative essay on 'The Architectural Documentary' for a special issue of Screen devoted to 'Television and Architecture', ed. Matthew Harle, to be published in 2016.

      Naomi is co-author of The Fundamentals of Interior Architecture (AVA Publishing, 2007) - The Fundamentals of Interior Architecture (AVA Publishing, 2007).

      Previous book review: 'The Domestic Space Reader, ed. Briganti and Mezei' (March 2012), in Interiors: Design, Architecture, Culture, Toronto University Press, 122–124

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    Selected work

    Research

    Research interests

    Naomi House’s research and practice is concerned with the interrogation of the interior as post-architectural. Adopting a forensic approach, she is proposing the interior as a pseudo crime scene, exploring the complex ‘entanglement’ of people, environments and things that are brought together through the collection of clues and the interpretation of traces as signs of more complex processes. At the crime-scene everything is of potential significance, bringing into focus a flat ontology of things and the ‘vibrancy of matter’ (Jane Bennett). Thresholds and other liminal devices are another perennial interest, particularly where they provoke and reveal the edge condition, or where they blur places and typologies. 

    This research is contextualised within the collaborative C.I.D – the Council of Inordinate Design, who use forensic methods as a strategy for exploring and questioning how objects, environments and their interactions can be analysed, interpreted and animated. C.I.D have a long-standing interest in detective fiction, ghosts and haunting, and thinking about ‘things’ as signs and elements in the ‘mise-en-scene’, revealing their extraordinary instability, and potency.  

    Current and recent research

    Harriss, H. & House, N. (2016) ‘Interiority Complex’, A Gendered Profession, September

    The field of interiors is complex.  Marginalized within critical discourse it is viewed from afar as soft and insubstantial, politely addressing the inhabitation of space without troubling the permanence of architecture.  Interiors is understood and largely accepted as architecture’s inferior sibling, it’s nice but dim younger self, lacking both words and voice. 

    Moving away from a discourse about the interior as a feminised space, this chapter will propose that the practice of interiors is a feminist tactic that disrupts the assumed ‘territory’ of architecture, putting it back together again and again, reconfiguring it anew.


    Curtis, B., House, N. & Kerr, J., (2016) 'The Architectural Documentary', Matthew Harle (ed), Screen - Television and Architecture  (special edition)

    The essay will look at various ideas about representing architecture visually, dwelling specifically on the characteristics of television and the documentary traditions and considering what it means to produce visual commentaries on architecture in digital times. It will investigate the dominant genres of the architectural documentary and the different modes of address and the scope of reference. It will look at examples of how architectural documentaries have raised wider issues relating to programmes that championed new architectural ideas in the 70's, the political implications of heritage and housing in the 80's, and at the ways in which presenters like Jonathan Meades have devised ways of revisiting unpopular modernist buildings.


    House, N. (2012) 'The Domestic Space Reader’, in: Briganti and Mezei (eds), Interiors: Design, Architecture, Culture, Toronto University Press, 122–124


    Coles, J. & House, N., (2007) The Fundamentals of Interior Architecture, AVA Publishing, 1st Edition

    This book offers an introduction to the key elements involved in the creation of aesthetically appealing and practically appropriate interior architecture. Each element, or fundamental, uses theory and contemporary and historical references to illustrate the richness and diversity of design practice. Using examples taken from work created by contemporary practitioners, The Fundamentals of Interior Architecture offers a unique insight into the principles and processes that underpin the work of the professional interior designer.


    Forthcoming Collection of Essays

    C.I.D (the Council of Inordinate Design) are currently editing a collection of essays for Routledge that stems from a College-Wide Symposium at the RCA in February 2015 entitled The CSI of Things: Crimes Scenes and Suspect Objects.