On November 18th, 2016, the MA program in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies/Parsons School of Art and Design History and Theory joined forces with The Modern Interiors Research Centre of Kingston University, London to host the Interiors: Film, Theater, Television symposium. Convening at the Parsons campus in New York City, chairs Pat Kirkham (Kingston University, London) and Sarah A. Lichtman (Parsons School of Design) welcomed speakers and participants hailing from the academic, film and curatorial worlds. The symposium consisted of two sessions of presentations that explored the intersections between film, theater, television and the cultural, social, and political roles that the interior has played throughout history. Each session was followed by a panel discussion where audience members and speakers further explored the topics.
Presenters included Christian Larsen (Associate Curator, Modern Decorative Arts and Design, Metropolitan Museum of Art), who examined themes of the environment and “ecofeminist suburban horror” in Todd Haynes’ gripping drama Safe; Sorcha O’Brien (Senior Lecturer, Design History and Theory, Kingston University, London), who explored the nostalgic interiors of the fantasy/science fiction 2002 television program Serenity; Sarah A. Lichtman (Assistant Professor, Design History, Parsons School of Design), who looked at the translation of Anne Frank’s wartime hiding place into the set designs for the 1955 Broadway play, The Diary of Anne Frank; Alice T. Friedman, who considered mid 20th-century films which portrayed New York City wealth while subverting social convention through subtexts dealing with gender and sexuality; and Marilyn Cohen (Assistant Professor, Parsons School of Design), who reflected on the evolving interiors of I Love Lucy, from the standpoints of domesticity, gender, and pop culture.
The event was attended by scholars and students from the New York design history and design studies community and beyond.