The Senses & Interior Design
Apart from the recent exhibition and attending catalogue for the 2018 Cooper-Hewitt exhibition, Senses: Design Beyond Vision, which focused on countless objects, and Diana Fuss’ compelling The Sense of an Interior (2004) which explores the specific rooms of four giant literary figures from the nineteenth century, a sustained investigation of the complex relationships between the senses and interior design remains elusive. Yet, despite this absence countless are the examples and vantage points from which to explore a constellation of interior design practices, theories and uses that have taken the five senses (sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing) into consideration. Whether the harsh diatribes of nineteenth century physician Max Nordau on decadent and symbolist interiors which threatened to enervate the senses or more recent publications like Catherine Bailly Dunne’s Interior Designing for all Five Senses (1998), the five senses are resolutely endemic to the experience and expression of the interior and its decoration and design.

The edited volume Senses & Interior Design proposes to shed light on the complex relationship between the senses and the interior from all geographical, political, and social perspectives and without time limits. Specific case studies and broader theoretical formulations on the senses and the interior, whether historic or contemporary, commercial or domestic, lived-in or fictional, are welcome. Essays can focus on one or multiple senses, including unusual sensory experiences and pairings or sensory deprivation.
Topics can include but are not limited to:

• The sexualization, gendering, and racialization of the senses within the interior
• Senses in interior design publications, treaties, periodicals or self-help literature
• Indigenous forms of knowledge around the senses and practices of the interior
• Interior design pedagogy that specifically responds to or with the senses in mind
• Medical advice and treatises on the senses and the interior
• The spaces of entertainment, consumption, retail and travel that deploy specific sensory strategies
• Senses, memory, and the interior
• Sensory experiences and ways in which the interior engages the senses in a global or locally specific way
• The use, solicitation or display of senses in period rooms, house museums, and living history museums

• Interior designers who work with the senses to create a more holistic approach to lived-in spaces
• The psychological or phenomenological experiences and expressions of the interior
• Colours, materials, fabrics and/or technologies that heightened the sensory experiences of the interior

We invite interested contributors to submit a 400- to 500-word long proposal along with a 200- to 300-word bio (NO CV!) by October 2, 2020. We aim for final chapters to be approximately 6,000 words in length, including notes and bibliography. We are aiming to work with Manchester University Press, which has stated a clear interest in the project.
Please send your proposals, bio, and any queries to:
Dr John Potvin,
Dr Marie-Ève Marchand,
Mr Benoit Beaulieu,

Important Dates:
02 October 2020: Proposals submission deadline
31 October 2020: Applicants will be informed whether their proposal has been accepted
01 May 2021: Chapters due to editors. Please note that contributions will be formally accepted or rejected at that point.