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The politics of furniture: identity, diplomacy and persuasion in post-war interiors

The politics of furniture: identity, diplomacy and persuasion in post-war interiors

Flore, Fredie, editor; McAtee, Cammie D. (Cammie Dale), 1966- editor

Bringing together a range of international studies, this volume discusses the agency of modern furniture in post-war interiors. It argues that modern furniture played a critical and underestimated role in the crafting of political messages in very diverse arenas between the 1940s and the 1970s. In many different parts of the world modern furniture elements have served as material expressions of power in the post-war era. They were often meant to express an international and in some respects apolitical modern language, but when placed in a sensitive setting or a meaningful architectural context, they were highly capable of negotiating or manipulating ideological messages. The agency of modern furniture was often less overt than that of political slogans or statements, but as the chapters in this book reveal, it had the potential of becoming a persuasive and malleable ally in very diverse politically charged arenas, including embassies, governmental ministries, showrooms, exhibitions, design schools, libraries, museums and even prisons. This collection of chapters examines the consolidating as well as the disrupting force of modern furniture in the global context between 1945 and the mid-1970s. The volume shows that key to understanding this phenomenon is the study of the national as well as transnational systems through which it was launched, promoted and received. While some chapters squarely focus on individual furniture elements as vehicles communicating political and social meaning, others consider the role of furniture within potent sites that demand careful negotiation, whether between governments, cultures, or buyer and seller. In doing so, the book explicitly engages different scholarly fields: design history, history of interior architecture, architectural history, cultural history, diplomatic and political history, postcolonial studies, tourism studies, material culture studies, furniture history, and heritage and preservation studies. Taken together, the narratives and case studies compiled in this volume offer a better understanding of the political agency of post-war modern furniture in its original historical context. At the same time, they will enrich current debates on reuse, relocation or reproduction of some of these elements

eBook, Electronic resource, Book. English. Electronic books.
Published London: Routledge, 2017
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Statement of responsibility: edited by Fredie Flore and Cammie McAtee
ISBN: 1317020472, 9781317020479
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Physical Description: xvii, 215 pages, 16 pages of plates : illustrations (black and white, and colour)
Subject: Home & house maintenance; Theory of architecture; Art and Design.; Material culture; History of art; Travel guides: museums, historic sites, galleries etc; Furniture Political aspects History 20th century.; Later 20th century c 1950 to c 1999; Architecture: interior design; History of architecture; The arts: general issues
Reproduction: Electronic reproduction. Askews and Holts. Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Other formats: Also available in printed form ISBN 9781472453556


  1. Introduction
  2. The Politics of Furniture (Fredie Floré and Cammie McAtee)
  3. Part I
  4. Furniture and Identity Politics
  5. 1.
  6. Nomadic Furniture in the "Heart of Darkness"
  7. Colonial and Post-Colonial Trajectories of Modern Design Artifacts To and From Tropical Africa
  8. (Johan Lagae)
  9. 2.
  10. Modernism on Vacation
  11. The Politics of Hotel Furniture in the Spanish Caribbean
  13. (Erica N. Morawski), 3. When Modernity Confronts Tradition
  14. Conflicting Visions for Post-War Furniture Design in Québec (Martin Racine), 4. The Interiors of the Belgian Royal Library
  15. An Expression of National Identity with an International Imprimatur (Fredie Floré and Hannes Pieters)
  16. Part II
  17. Spaces of Persuasion
  18. 5. Exhibitions for Modern Living
  19. Lifestyle Propaganda and the Promotion of Modern Furniture and Furnishings in the United States, 1930s-1950s (Margaret Maile Petty), 6. Knolling Paris
  20. From the "New Look" to Knoll au Louvre (Cammie McAtee and Fredie Floré), 7. Correction Fairs and Japanese Furniture Made in Prison (Yasuko Suga)
  21. Part III
  22. The Diplomacy of Furniture
  23. 8.
  24. National Identity and Modern Furniture in Brasilia’s Itamaraty Palace (Luciana Saboia, Elane Ribeiro Peixoto, and José Airton Costa Junior), 9. All-Over Inside-Out
  25. Eero Saarinen’s United States Embassy in London (Cammie McAtee), 10. Designed Diplomacy
  26. Furniture, Furnishing and Art in Australian Embassies for Washington DC and Paris (Philip Goad)