B. Camocini, S.M. Gramegna, A. Rebaglio

Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
“Interiors most closely define human beings, our behaviour and emotions, within our built world in a way no other discipline does.” (Caan, 2011, p.8)
Designing an interior means designing a place which interprets and communicates the identities of the people interacting with it. Interior Design cannot ignore the focal importance of the user, the recipient of the project, who has lost a certain "fixity" in the contemporary world as he is immersed in the current flow of change, of multitudes of behaviors and cultures, that makes him faceted and complex, yet still connoted by a physical universe of objects and places.

Accordingly, this paper provides a summary of reflections within the course ‘Elementi Visivi del Progetto’ – Visual Elements of the Project - held in the first-year of the undergraduate degree in Interior Design at Politecnico di Milano. It is an experiential-learning course, which consists of three integrated didactic modules covering the study of interiors, visual and graphic design, and digital image production. The requested outputs represent the synthesis of the contributions from the three aforementioned disciplines, aiming to guide students to learn how to read, understand and interpret interior design projects.

The didactic approach seeks to keep a holistic perspective on a complex system, referring to the project as a whole, still developing an analytical view, articulated through a number of exercises, some of which focus on the meaningful issues of the interior design discipline. This paper explores the development of this didactic approach which has been experimented over the past ten years within this course, with particular attention to the anthropological and perceptual aspects related to the users and the use of spaces.

This approach has led us to identify three specific tools: Humans, Self Body- and Spatial-Oriented Tools.
- Humans oriented Tools are aimed at investigating humans through their universe of objects, behaviors and spaces.
- Self Body-Oriented Tools are focused on individual experimentations stimulating the formation of a physical awareness of the body in relation to interior spaces and furnishings.
- Spatial-Oriented Tools are an in-depth analysis of Materials and Colours (focused on a visited space) and Spatial Setting Strategies (based on the Milan Design Week experience).

These brief yet highly-focused and themed exercises are supported by insights on the use of disciplinary techniques related to morphological and functional representation of spaces (i.e. drawing by hand and digital representation, photography and prototype model production), employed as critical and personal instruments for analysis and concept development.
In the final stage of the course, each student develops a small interior design project focused on a specific user applying the acquired Tools.

The aim of this process is to identify some “project matrices” in order to develop the anthropological-perceptual aspects related to the inhabitant of a certain interior. This paper will discuss the selection of the meaningful signifiers of the project as those strongly related to humans, defining the habitat, made of different spaces, objects, rituals and behaviors.