The Modern Interiors Research Centre at Kingston University (MIRC) is the foremost research centre dedicated to the study of modern interiors. Formed in 2005, with the aim of addressing the marginalisation of the interior within the disciplines of architectural and design history, the Centre has played a leading international role in developing this new field of interdisciplinary enquiry.
MIRC evolved out of a series of conferences held at Dorich House Museum between 1999 and 2004. The conferences brought together researchers from a range of disciplines and the participants began to map out a set of methodological approaches to the historical study of the interior as a subject, distinct from prevailing ‘building’ and ‘artifact’ based architectural and design historical approaches.
The Centre’s researchers work predominantly within the core disciplines of Design History, Architectural History and Visual, Material and Spatial Culture. They share an understanding of the interior as both a key site of modern experience and identity formation and a designed response to, and representation of, the condition of living in the modern world.
Since 2005, the Centre has attracted a growing international audience to its annual conferences, which it has used to direct further thematic and methodological explorations of the interior as a designed, inhabited, and represented space. An important early theme was the relationship between modernity, modernism and the interior. These conferences have resulted in a series of publications including, most recently, Designing the Modern Interior: from the Victorians to today (Berg, 2009), a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2010, and its companion volume, Performance Fashion and the Modern Interior: from the Victorians to today (Berg, 2011).
In 2010, in response to the rapid expansion of this new field, MIRC launched an academic journal, Interiors: Design Architecture Culture, which was awarded the title of ‘Best New Journal’ by the American Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) in 2011. Interiors continues under the co-editorship of Professor Anne Massey (Middlesex University, UK) and Dr John Turpin (High Point University, USA).
MIRC members foster links with researchers from other disciplines, including art historians, cultural historians and literary historians, and maintain local and international links with interior design historians, educators and practitioners, including the American Interior Design Educators Council and the Australian Interior Design/Interior Architecture Educators Association.
The Centre has worked with a variety of industry, cultural sector and institutional partners on knowledge transfer, education and consultancy projects including, among others, the V&A, the Geffrye Museum, Historic Royal Palaces, the National Maritime Museum, the Design Museum, the Royal College of Art, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, the Bartlett, Artex, and Sony. It is currently developing a series of international collaborations and partnerships, the first of which, FLOW, developed in 2011 in conjunction with the Melbourne School of Design at the University of Melbourne, explores the relationship between interiors and landscape.