Contemporary Positions in Interior Design Theory

The conference Interior – inferior – in theory? Contemporary positions in interior design theory brought together interior design researchers and educators from different countries to discuss contemporary theoretical positions within/about the discipline.

What constitutes interior design/interior architecture? How may interior design's relationship to architecture and design be defined and reflected theoretically? How is this discipline, which for decades has been classified as "emerging“ or "relatively young", taught, researched and understood professionally in different countries? How has this changed over time?

Taking theory building to be one of the most important acts of defining a discipline, the conference drew connections between interior design theory and its historiography, historical research in interior design/interior architecture, and disciplinary conceptions as they are embodied in interior design programs and professional institutions in different countries.

Given interior design’s status as an "emerging“ discipline, often taught only at universities of applied sciences or, in some countries, not even established as a university subject, the title "Interior – inferior – in theory?“ refers to the notion that interior design lacks a historically grown body of research and, especially, a theory of its own, and instead largely relies on architecture and design theory.

Instead of continuing to rely on related discipline’s definitions, which result in a definition ex negativo, the conference aims to support the current trend of establishing a body of theory for the discipline that is its own.

Call for Papers

The call for contributions (now closed) invited researchers, educators and professional institutions of interior design/architecture to contribute to the conference’s topics. For the symposium on the first day, we were interested in a broad and multifaceted range of papers from case studies investigating e.g. historical examples, which illuminate the discipline’s current theoretical status, to contemporary theoretical positions.

Call for Topics

The call for topics (now closed) invited interior educators, researchers and members of professional organisations to suggest topics that they would like to present and discuss with other participants. The conference’s second day was dedicated to the discussion of current themes and topics, which are related to the conference's concern with interior design theory and discipline building, and to foster new activities and cooperation.


Interior – Inferior – In Theory? Contemporary Positions in Interior Design Theory - 17-18 May 2018, Berlin, Germany

International conference organised by BAU International Berlin – University of Applied Sciences, Prof. Dr. Carola Ebert, Chair of Interior Design, History and Theory of Architecture and Design, in cooperation with Architektenkammer Berlin, Bund Deutscher Innenarchitekten, European Council of Interior Architects and Netzwerk Architekturwissenschaft.

Conference Organisation

The call for contributions was open until 15 January 2018 and speakers were notified of their acceptance by 15 February 2018.

Scientific Committee
Graeme Brooker, Royal College of Art, UK
Carola Ebert, BAU International Berlin, Germany
Imma Forino, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Tüüne-Kristin Vaikla, European Council of Interior Architects, Estonia


At the conference, researchers, educators, and professionals from six continents offered different regional and occupational perspectives in 22 presentations plus the keynote by Graeme Brooker (RCA, London).

Click below to download the full programme.

Book of Abstracts

The Book of Abstracts makes the abstracts for the keynote and all presentations available to the conference participants and to other interested parties. It also contains biographical information on the speakers.

Click below to download the Book of Abstracts (pdf).

Graeme Brooker


Professor Graeme Brooker is Head of Interiors at The Royal College of Art, London. He has published widely on many aspects of the interior and in particular the reuse of existing buildings. His most recent publications include Adaptations (Bloomsbury 2016) and Key Interiors Since 1900 (Laurence King 2013). He has co-authored numerous books on the interior including the highly acclaimed Re-readings, (RIBA 2005, Volume 2 - 2018).

He is the founder and director of the charity Interior Educators (IE), the national subject association for all interior courses in the UK. His current projects include, The Story of the Interior (Phaidon 2020), a reworking of Gombrich’s classic publication, but utilising the narratives of enclosed spaces.


BAU International


Architektenkammer Berlin Netzwerk Architekturwissenschaft European Council of Interior Architects Netzwerk Architekturwissenschaft



On the first day, the conference “Interior – inferior – in theory? Contemporary positions in interior design theory” addressesed the discipline’s current status, its theoretical disposition and the nexus between research teaching and profession in seven academic papers plus a keynote by Graeme Brooker (RCA, London).


Registration is no longer possible.

Discussion & Debate

The conference’s second day continued the discussion of interior design theory and discipline building in a more interactive format. Researchers, educators, and professionals from six continents presented different regional and occupational perspectives in order to foster a lively exchange.


Registration is no longer possible.