Jan Jennings, a professor of design and environmental analysis, along with colleagues at Cornell University, has produced a searchable online database for contemporary design with imagery from real buildings. One of the key aspects of the project was to choose vocabulary that has been used in the field but has not been formalised.
“We had to invent a naming practice, a vocabulary, for students to use in talking about design,” Jennings said. “Interior design had borrowed language from architecture and visual arts, but when you came down to it, we didn’t have a typology for contemporary design practices that have been occurring across history, style and culture.”
At its inception in 2009, the project, already 13 years in the making, had named nearly 70 interior archetypes.
“Some of our alumni are using these words in the field,” Jennings said. “When they do that, they hear the word being used later by their colleagues. If the word is used without translation or definition, then it really has become a word that contributes to a design language.”
Update: after two years, the Intypes Project has continued to grow in research content, images and functionality.
Research has been completed for the following practice types: apartment, hotel, house, resort & spa, restaurant, retail, showroom and workplace. Bar & club is nearing completion. Graduate students have begun research for theme dining and school K-12 (kindergarten to 12 years).
The following elements have also been completed: artificial light, material, and transformative interior.
There is now also an Intake Intype Sampler tool where one can choose and organise up to 12 Intypes as a take-away list (PDF). When the Intype is printed, it includes its icon and definition.
Some of the Intypes of interior design:
• Lonely couple — Two chairs of the same design that are situated side by side within the space and are isolated from every other furniture configuration.
• Dressed column — Structural or nonstructural columns that are “dressed” by decorative or ornamental means; altogether the columns act as multiple repetitious showcase features.
• Marching Order — A series of repeating vertical display forms organized along a grid that act as consecutive backdrops for display and spatially divide the retail interior.
• Wunderkammer — A historic exhibition aesthetic in which entire walls or ceilings were covered by a multitude of artifacts arranged by taxonomy. Contemporarily, the term refers to assemblages that cover entire interior planes of related or disparate objects
I have found some examples of these on our product specification site, ESI.info, which provides specifiers with shortlists of UK suppliers and products for contract, commercial and high end residential projects.
Lonely couples? by connections interiors
“Down the line” – Tango Outdoor furniture
A “showcase stair” from Kigi Joinery
Originally from Physorg.com, the article that insired this blog post has now been taken down but the full text is still available here: “Interior Design now has a language all of its own”.