Download the poster:
Interior Architecture is a young profession. But Interior Architecture is also vulnerable. We make interiors, and every so often we remake them as they are overtaken by time. The history of interior design has not extensively been written, and many valuable designs and its designers have already been forgotten.
Oral history is the recording of people's memories. It is the living history of someone's unique life experiences or an eyewitness account of historical events.
Oral history records people's experiences on sound and video media. It is a vital tool for our understanding of the recent past.
Oral history enables people who have been hidden from history to be heard, and for those interested in their past to record personal experiences.
Oral history is new and exciting because it is interactive: it is shared history and a rare chance to actually talk to history face to face.
Oral history preserves the past for the future.
The project aims to collect and document the contribution of Interior Architects and the development of the profession in the 2nd half of the 20th century.
It is intended not only to fill an existing void in the literature but to go beyond the facts to explore motivations and influences, behind-the-scenes stories, and personal reflections.
The ECIA Oral History Project also aims to bring together the young and the old generation of Interior Architecture practitioners, bridging the generation gap in a profession that is characterized by its focus on change and innovation. It enables students and young practitioners to get an insight view of the ideals, beliefs and expectations of the professions leaders and predecessors.
Oral History encourages a sense of worth and continued contribution to society to the older generation of professionals.
Educators, tutors and mentors are encouraged to start local projects with small groups of students.
Interview candidates can be selected for a variety of reasons: quality of work; relationships to other (significant) interior designers or architects, firms, and schools; inclusion of work in archives or permanent collections; relevance of his or her story in relation to other published or unpublished sources; and the physical health of the candidate. Ideally the candidate has retired from active practice and is able to fully commit the time and energies required for the project.
Oral historians generally prefer to ask open-ended questions and avoid leading questions that encourage people to say what they think the interviewer wants them to say. Some interviews are “life reviews,” conducted with those at the end of their careers, others are focused on a specific period in their lives or specific events or projects.
The live interview is recorded on audio or video media.
A full transcript of the interview and a summary, possibly accompanied by (copies of) pictures, sketches or drawings of the interviewee’s work, are the result of the project.
The project team leader (preferably a tutor) starts with a pre-interview to discuss the projects protocol and to gather biographical information. The candidate is informed on the method of data collection, the aims of the interview and the expected follow up. Copyright issues must be settled before the actual process starts. The interview must take place in the interviewee’s native language.
Then the interviewer(s) conduct extensive research into interviewee’s life and work using a variety of public and private resources.
An outline of questions is provided by the Project (see inset), but may be adjusted to the specific person or situation. The questions are not provided to the interviewee in advance.
Ideally, interviews are conducted in the interviewee’s own environment and do not last longer than two hours (consecutive).
The interviewer(s) make a verbatim transcript of the media. The transcript is reviewed by the interviewee for accuracy of information, such as proper names and dates.
The interviewers(s) compile a summary of the interview, which is added with a preface that gives a brief overview of the Interior Architect’s background and describes the circumstances of the interview. The interviewer also contributes a curriculum vita of the interviewee and a selected bibliography of the sources used in preparation of the interview. Finally, a table of contents (including any graphic material) and an index of names and buildings is incorporated in the product.
If the product is valuable enough and meets minimum standards you may consider making it accessible to others. This can be done through a website or at a local archive or library.
ECIA encourages you to translate the summary in English and send it to ECIA. We will make the material available through the ECIA website in the original language and in English. Also, we will try to get the article linked from other sources, such as ‘In the First Person’, a web based index of over 4000 collections of personal narratives in English.
Ultimately, if a number of projects provide enough interesting material, we will publish the best interviews in a book.
Many books and publications on the subject of Oral History exist. However, as far as we know no specific information exists on Oral History on Interior Architecture.
A good source for information and with practical advice on how to get started and how to interview is the website of the ‘Oral History Society’
‘Making Sense of Oral History?’ is another website with practical and easy to use information and tips.
‘In the First Person’ provides a free web based index of collections of personal narratives in English from around the world, accessible through keyword search.
The Art Institute of Chicago compiled the Chicago Architects Oral History Project. Begun in 1983 it records the lifes and experiences of architects (also foreigners) who shaped the Chicago physical environment.
UNESCO compiles a list of Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Projects provided by National Organizations or schools will be published here!