How is the image of ‘home’ composed? As an image, how does it get imagined, drawn, projected, and most importantly, conceived? As a composition, how is the home arranged, pieced-together, and fabricated? As both an image and a composition, how is the home evoked? This research addresses and questions the images and compositions of home in popular representations which seem virtual and plastic as opposed to the organic and evolutionary trajectory of home.
The enquiry is conducted by closely examining cases of home making in apartments within the metropolitan milieu of Mumbai. Developers, interior designers, architects, and dwellers –these primary actors are caught in the act of composing the image of home. Designers in their practice and home in its making are studied. The professional design practice is examined through the micro lens of domestic space, which in turn is addressed as a materio-semiotic assemblage negotiated through professional practice. The two ideas, design practice and making of home, then appear like two mirrors placed one in front of the other, both endlessly containing and reflecting the other.
The peculiar dual spatial nature of the flat as an artefact is created out of exterior and interior design by different sets of actors. It is two-dimensional–mass-manufactured and customizable. This study examines design across both these dimensions; the analysis of the particular case presents an opportunity to conceive the design of a flat and home as they are constructed through multiple strings of conversation and nested decisions in and through which the two are created. This also allows the observation of the construction of the home one step at a time, as they are conceptualized.
As a mass-manufactured entity the image of the home (flat) attempts to extend and contain exclusive access to experiences conceived collectively. This collective-extension has boundaries poised hesitantly between the personal and the collective; between an inside called home and an outside called the city. The designer plays the role of composing the spatial identity of dwelling. She negotiates the typology of dwelling and the local realities of the site and context to bring about a semblance of home as design conceives a community of dwellers.
The designer negotiates the already existing and also the novel narratives of occupying a space. She feeds a partial narrative into the overall narrative of the home constructed by the real estate and construction industry. As an interpreter of space she assigns scripts, narratives and meanings to spaces of home, a design which is co-authored with the dweller. Home as a product of professional design practice frames layerings of interpretation, scripting and authorship. The designer interprets the meaning of home as she deals with multiple spatial scales of dwelling and their scripting. The complexity of co-authorship with respect to a home is illustrated in the process of interior design. The designer could be portrayed as an actor in the twilight between the materiality of architecture and its interpretive semiotic status.
The possibilities that emerge in the interactive space of co-authoring refer to a third space which is the process through which both, design and home, interact with each other. In this process the home appears as a space where personal dwelling scripts of the dweller are re-written, thus attributing to the design process, the role of shaping perceptions and actually re-making the dweller. The home is introduced in Chapter one as an idea open to, while also resisting the ideas of personal space, construction and design. If the home is thought through design, then it can be seen through the lens of ‘making’. Chapter one frames this aspect and renders visible the vectors that would define the research questions and subsequent approach.
The approach, both philosophical and methodical, adopted for this investigation, stretches across chapter two, chapter three and chapter four. Chapter two frames the problem within the limits of dwelling design practice of Mumbai. The status of home and home-making within the industry of housing is portrayed. The image of the home as an affect of the city is discussed. Figures of both the anonymous dweller and the client-dweller are drawn in this chapter.
The questions that follow are who scripts and authors design in the case of anonymous dwellers, how does co-authoring happen in the case of existing dwellers. Chapter three frames these questions within the dual-dimensioned spatiality of the flat. Chapter four frames conventional cases of exterior and interior design to understand the making of home. The two separate cases that constitute the research are analyzed in chapter five and six respectively. These chapters segment the documented cases and recombine them to generate insights into the conception of home and shed light on the role of design in this context. Chapter five presents an image of the home as a space aspiring to be self-contained and well-managed—a space which also filters out the undesirable elements of urban dwelling. It formulates the figuration of the dweller as a community dweller in the design process.
Bringing the focus to bear on the interactive dimension of home conception in the interior of the flat, chapter six demonstrates the designer’s persuasive role in translating scripts and practices into physical shape by focusing on how the home is ‘done’ or ‘made’. It encapsulates the duration and process before the home gains full spatial extension, a process that is imaginative and visualization-intensive, simulating (through various media: images, photographs, drawings) this future spatial extension.
Chapter seven conclusively renders the portrait of home that emerges from the analysis. The novelty of this depiction within the discourse of the home is reflected upon. The roles that get assigned to and played out by the designer in the peculiar situation of the flat-home are discussed. The study concludes with the description of attitudes, dispositions and roles in the design of home and the necessity of being alert to these dimensions which otherwise are ignored or overlooked in the discourse of design, home and apartment dwelling. The chapter argues for re-conception of the image of the home within the city and the role of design and designer in this re-conception.