The History of British Interiors: a Six Part Course with Francesca Herrick - Context Travel

The History of British Interiors: a Six Part Course with Francesca Herrick


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British interior designers are in global demand, yet the British aesthetic is difficult to pin down. Period dramas like Downton Abbey, The Crown or Victoria give a good sense of how traditional British interiors suggest an ordered eclecticism, a seemingly effortless layering of different historical and cultural influences. An international outlook combined with love of heritage and craftsmanship are all hallmarks of British interior styles, which continue unbroken to today, even with the advent of Modernism in the early 20th century.

In six lectures, this course explores the evolution of British interior design, from the 17th century to the present day, via inspirational case studies, with a focus on domestic properties ranging from modest townhouses to grand stately homes. We will study these examples in their wider contexts and discuss their relevance to current design debates and trends. In each session, we will train our eyes to recognize antiques of key eras and look at contemporary British interiors that offer a creative twist on the past. A history of interior design is also a history of art, architecture, furniture, lighting, fabrics and decorative objects, with a considerable amount of social history thrown in.

Lecture 1: Georgian Elegance: The Lure of Classicism (1660–1800)
British designers borrowed liberally from their continental design cousins Italy and France, but developed a more understated language of design that still holds huge appeal today.

Lecture 2: Eccentricities of design: Rococo, Chinoiserie and Gothick (1720–1800)
When it came to new spaces for relaxation and entertainment, British designers could produce flights of fancy in one of several novelty styles.

Lecture 3: How ‘British’ is British Interior Style? (1800–1830)
The impact of colonial activity and trade can be seen in British interiors as early as the 1600s. Engagements with the designs of Asia and Africa reached new heights in the Regency period.

Lecture 4: The Artistic Interior: Victorian Design Reform (1830–1914)
British designers concerned by the socially and environmentally damaging consequences of industrialization promoted new approaches to making and living

Lecture 5: Between Tradition and Modernity: Art Deco and English Country House Style (1920–1939)
The British experience of modernity in the early 20th century was multifaceted, caught between the desire for progress and nostalgia for the heritage that was under threat.

Lecture 6: Post-WWII Visions of the Future – Mid-Century Modern (1950–1970)
Modernism finally found acceptance in the UK and the Festival of Britain of 1951 introduced the public to a new generation of forward-thinking designers.

How does it work?
This is a six-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?
Yes. There are recommended readings for those enrolled in the class. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?
Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?
The course is $210 for 6 lectures.

Is a recording available?
In general, our courses are not recorded. However, if you need to miss a lecture please let us know in advance and we can arrange for a recording for that session on an individual basis.

Francesca Herrick is a London based lecturer who has expanded her teaching practice beyond her Art History degrees to encompass the history of interior design. This specialised subject is still an emergent area of scholarly study. In her academic role at KLC School of Design, Chelsea, she has found a rare opportunity to develop curriculums for graduate courses that combine historical and critical studies with more practical engagement with past design. She is also an educator for the Courtauld Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts.

This course is suitable for all ages

Each lecture is 90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.