Ken Wilder


Inheriting an Existing Circumstance

“The interior designer often works with what we find—what we inherit—an existing circumstance.”

To what extent does interior design ‘repair’ an architectural situation? Ken Wilder describes Interior Spatial Design as an intersection between architecture, design and art practice. Wilder, in a tongue-in-cheek description, tells us how architects, ‘love, more than anything, to demolish a particular situation that they receive and to put up a brand new sparkling building’, whereas the interior spatial designer inherits a given scenario, working with what is already there.

Taking examples from the work of Fred Scott, who ran the Spatial Design Department at Kingston University, Wilder takes us on a journey of key examples demonstrating ‘intelligent intervention’ by conservators. This includes, for example, Cimabue’s crucifix, badly damaged by floods in Florence in the 60s and famously restored to allow the eye to visually complete the image, without attempting to replicate the missing elements. Wilder describes how architecture was allowed to be an unfinished project and, therefore, the importance of thinking through the lifecycle of material. Wilder provides examples of students works to demonstrate self-reflective practice that does indeed do this, ending on a series of furniture where the material used to cast becomes part of the object itself, ‘Even all the pencils marks are left on and the traces of the concrete left on the timber become part of a much more enriched object’.


– equates the idea of ‘repair’ with the work of the interior designer who, unlike the architect who (traditionally) is given a situation to destroy and rebuild, works with what they find or ‘inherit’ (for this he draws on the ideas of Fred Scott – who used to lead the Spatial Design Department at Kingston)
– He gives examples of ‘repair’ and inheritance of a situation (Cimabue’s crucifix, Carlo Scarpa’s Castelvecchio, but also Gordan Matta-Clarke)
– The interior designer being more comfortable than the architect with the idea of ‘unfinishedness’.
– Interior design as a self-reflexive practice and a crossover between art and design practices (Robert Morris’ Box with the Sound of its own Making, Simon Starling Shed, Boat, Shed; Doris Salcedo Shibboleth).
– Teaching on a course to do with architecture, but not having architecture to ‘play around with’ – gives examples of students work where they engage with architectural materials and furniture etc, in the studio

Carlo Scarpa, Castelvecchio, Verona, Italy (1959-73)
Celine Fitoussi, recreation of the fragmentation of a wall in soap.
Cimabue_s Crucifix before and after repair
Emma Hunter, Broken tools cast in different materials.
Gary Nash, Using materials from the casting process as part of the finish object.
Gordon Matta-Clark, Office Baroque (1977)
Hans Dollgast, The Alte Pinakothek, Munich, (restored 1952).
Rubble women dalvaging bricks.
Sirine Chaker, Smithfields alleyway intervention model.
Song Guo, reimagined junk shop box.
Sooji Lee, Laundry airers and tights.
Doris Salcedo, Shibboleth (2007) repaired
Francesco Venezia, Museu de Gibellina, Sicily, Italy (1981-7)
Martino Gamper, 100 Chairs in 100 Days (2007)
Simon Starling, Shedboatshed (Mobile Architecture No. 2) (2005).