Home A Short History of an Idea

[EPUB] ✿ Home A Short History of an Idea ❄ Witold Rybczynski – E17streets4all.co.uk Walk through five centuries of homes both great and small from the smoke filled manor halls of the Middle Ages to today's Ralph Lauren designed environments on a house tour like no other one that deli Walk through Short History PDF/EPUB ¿ five centuries of homes both great and small from the smoke filled manor halls of the Middle Ages to today's Ralph Lauren designed environments on a house tour like no other one that delightfully explicates the Home A PDF \ very idea of homeYou'll see how social and cultural changes influenced styles of decoration and furnishing learn the connection between wall hung religious tapestries and wall to wall carpeting discover how some of our most welcome luxuries were born A Short History Epub Ý of architectural necessity and much Most of all Home opens a rare window into our private lives and how we really want to live.Home A Short History of an Idea


Home A Short History of an Idea ePUB Î Short History
  • Paperback
  • 272 pages
  • Home A Short History of an Idea
  • Witold Rybczynski
  • English
  • 15 September 2016
  • 9780140102314

10 thoughts on “Home A Short History of an Idea

  1. says:

    Examines the European American evolution of the cultural concepts of privacy comfort and the intersection of form and function I'd group this book as informative to ecopsychology although the author writing in the mid 1980s didn't use the termThe author admits that comfort is an invention a cultural artifice Like all cultural ideas childhood family gender it has a past and it cannot be understood without reference to its specific history One dimensional technical definitions of comfort which ignore history are bound to be unsatisfactory p 230 Where people struggle for mere survival comfort is beside the point Where there is something that might be called a standard of living people do tend to make themselves what we know as comfortable but not everyone has thought about comfort the way we think of it today informed as we are by advertisements and so forth People in the Middle Ages did not altogether lack comfort as I have tried to show Their homes were neither rustic nor crude nor should we imagine that the persons inhabiting them did so without pleasure But what comfort there was was never explicit What our medieval ancestors did lack was the awareness of comfort as an objective idea pp 31 32He believes that today we have not integrated our domestic technology with our sense of comfort It is a subtle point technology is useful but not necessarily calming and pleasing in a way that appeals artistically or gels with our sense of self uote With the introduction of devices such as the gasolier and the vent duct a rift appeared between the mainly visual approach of decorators and the primarily mechanical approach of the engineers As we shall see with time this rift widened and contributed to a schizophrenic attitude toward domestic comfort that still troubles us pp 147 148 And again One might have expected the various inventions that contributed to human comfort at the turn of the century to have had a profound impact on the appearance of the home Surprisingly this was not the case p 173This is much closer to what I'd hoped Bill Bryson's At Home A Short History of Private Life would be about Bryson's book focused on the architecture and technology of houses whereas Rybczynski weaves these subjects into his reflections on privacy and comfort that make up the core of the book

  2. says:

    This book examines how the ideas of home and comfort and domesticity came into being and changed over the years and the relation of these ideas to technology in the home For the most part the book covers the period from the middle ages to the present It is the author's claim that during this period the home as an idea rather than a shelter came into beingDuring the middle ages homes contained many people who were only tenuously connected A person's livelihood was based out of the same building that was used for sleeping and eating so the buildings housed servants employees and apprentices in addition to the family The family itself was abbreviated because children were sent off as apprentices when they became old enough The large household sometimes up to 25 people the lack of privacy due to being a place of business and the less coherent family led to the medieval idea of home being uite different from the modern idea of homeOver time the ideas of home comfort domesticity privacy and intimacy started to become common These ideas had several sources Eventually where people work became separated from where people lived; it became a distinctly different part of the same building or another building completely Aristocrats started valuing furniture for its ability to provide comfort as well as the status or appearance it provided; these ideas eventually became wide spread Children stopped leaving the family to become apprentices As industrial jobs became common servants were harder to find; this led to the development of technology that could allow a family to maintain a home without servants and increased privacy It was interesting to see how these ideas have changed over time Like so many or less historical works that focus on home life it shows how our modern idea of the traditional family is actually a idea that has changed over timeAt times Rybczynski focuses on the design home when other social factors should also be considered He seems to think that nostalgia for past decorative and architectural styles expresses a longing for a sense of homeyness no longer present I am with him so far and that this lack of homeyness can be blamed on the fact that modern design modern in the Le Corbusier sense is not comfortable and intimate He does not consider that the modern lack of homeyness may have less to do with any architectural style and to do with how society has changed Today families tend to be spread out geographically people are part of many disjoint communities and have to balance them houses are built in a cookie cutter manner that focuses on maximizing profits rather than comfort I think lack of homeyness has less to do with the fact that there is a line of sight from the living room through the dining room to the kitchen and to do with the fact that people plop in front of the TV when they get home from a work place where they are expected to be friends with everyone but not too close to anyoneOverall I really really liked this book until I got to the last two chapters The second to last chapter was the author ranting against modern architecture in a book where it is not relevant proportional to the space devoted to it The last chapter was a rant against science and definitions Because science behavioral psychology has only been able to experimentally determine what comfort is not science is of no use in defining what comfort is; we cannot hope to have any sort of general definition at all The best we can do is define comfort as being like an onion no please not the onion analogy; comfort is a complex and many layered thing but you cannot examine it by cutting it up because then it loses its oniony nature Instead comfort can only be defined with vague descriptions of particular comfortable situations comfort is a good book a pot of tea in just the right place and lots of comfy pillows The author claims that this is the best we can do to define comfort but then goes on to say that these descriptions define comfort because they address convenience efficiency domesticity physical ease privacy and intimacy Which is it can we generalize or not? Okay that rant felt good

  3. says:

    was good informative a bit dry at parts but maybe thats just me some parts were really interesting like the part where it explained why a chair is designed a certain way and how the home came to be because of the children staying longer for school and things like that I liked the history of something I never though much about

  4. says:

    35 stars Can be dry but overall an interesting and informed look at the topic

  5. says:

    Read for #NonfictionNovember2017 Home ChallengeThis was an ok read Parts of the books seemed to be disjointed and jumped around to different subjects It was also focused a bit on architecture than I usually enjoy reading about I did learn a few interesting things from it however

  6. says:

    1 The Middle Ages not only produced illuminated books but also eyeglasses not only the cathedral but also the coal mine Revolutionary changes occurred in both primary industry and manufacturing The first recorded instance of mass production of horseshoes occurred during the Middle Ages Between the tenth and the thirteenth century a technological boom produced the mechanical clock the suction pump the horizontal loom the waterwheel the windmill and even on both shores of the English Channel the tidal mill Agricultural innovations formed the economic foundation for all this technical activity The deep plow and the idea of crop rotation increased productivity as much as fourfold so that agricultural yields in the thirteenth century would not be surpassed for another five hundred years Far from being a technological Black Hole the Middle Ages marked the authentic beginning of industrialization in Europe The period's influence was felt until at least the eighteenth century in all aspects of everyday life including attitudes towards the home2 There was little differentiation between utility and ceremony Simple functions like washing the hands acuired ceremonial forms and ceremonies like breaking bread were performed unself consciously as a natural part of life The emphasis that the Middle Ages placed on ceremony underlines what John Lukacs has called the external character of medieval civilization What mattered then was the external world and one's place in it Life was a public affair and just as one did not have a strongly developed self consciousness one did not have a room of one's own It was the medieval mind not the absence of comfortable chairs or central heating that explains the austerity of the medieval home It is not so much that in the Middle Ages comfort was unknown as Walter Scott would have it but rather that it was not needed3 I have called the modern interior 'a rupture in the evolution of domestic comfort' It represents an attempt not so much to introduce a new style that is the least of it as to change social habits and even to alter the underlying cultural meaning of domestic comfort Its denial of bourgeois traditions has caused it to uestion and reject not only luxury but also ease not only clutter but also intimacy Its emphasis on space has caused it to ignore privacy just as its interest in industrial looking materials and objects has led it away from domesticity Austerity both visual and tactile has replaced delight What started as an endeavor to rationalize and simplify has become a wrong headed crusade; not as is often claimed a response to a changing world but an attempt to change the way we live It is a rupture not because it does away with period styles not because it eliminates ornament and not because it stresses technology but because it attacks the very idea of comfort itself That is why people look to the past Their nostalgia is not the result of an interest in archaeology like some Victorian revivals nor of a sympathy for a particular period like Jeffersonian classicism Nor is it a rejection of technology People appreciate the benefits of central heating and electric lighting but the rooms of a Colonial country home or of a Georgian mansion which had neither continue to attract them for they provide a measure of something that is absent from the modern interior People turn to the past because they are looking for something that they do not find in the present comfort and well being4 Can we really have coziness and robots?

  7. says:

    This is a short book written in a style as comfortable as its subject matter I'm sure that Rybczynski is not the first person to have written on this subject; nonetheless it's good to have a work for a popular audience that covers the deceptively simple seeming idea what is hominess? Although I knew in the abstract that the ways people use their living spaces has changed still I was surprised by having the development of privacy intimacy and domesticity pointed out Rybczynski's treatment of the historical developments largely rejects sweeping theoretical explanations based on universalizations of psychology or economy for example although he clearly has read some of the theorists and instead favors discussion of contingent local circumstances I found this congenial to my own way of thinking about historiography; still I suspect that something like this might make a basis for reading theoretically oriented worksOne way that the author's own background he's an architect contributed to the book is in his understanding of the institutional forces involved in the building and furnishing of houses His discussion of why innovations like running water and central heating took so long to be adopted in 19th century houses even after they were available centers on the division of labor between architects and interior decorators neither considered themselves responsible for the mechanical aspects of the house and so those fell into the cracks The author also points out importantly that it was only when the people using the house the most the women insisted on being involved in planning and designing that improvements were made starting with Catherine Beecher's pioneering books in the 1840s and continuing with the huge contributions of the domestic engineers such as Christine Frederick and Lillian Gilbreth in the early 20th centuryThe last two chapters concern the twentieth century and what went wrong when home design began to be ruled by Modernism which created spaces that were fashionable and unmistakably new but which no one liked to live in He pointed out that there was an explicit moral crusade among Modernist architects that people were not supposed to be comfortable in modern spaces luxury and ease were anti modern values Yet these theorists did not succeed in changing the culture In the middle ages people accepted uncomfortable houses without privacy because that was the nature of the culture of the time; but the new concepts became widespread 300 years ago and have not gone away yet In other words architecture cannot by itself shape cultureOne thing that Rybczynski does not mention but I wonder about could it be that Modernist architecture and home design were a rejection not just of bourgeois values but of all things associated with femininity? That occurred to me in the discussion of Art Deco the way writers of the time described it was as highly feminine; and it was also the last major style that was comfortable though not cozy in its luxurious manifestations By the 1920s men in many professions were feeling threatened by encroachment of women; perhaps architects felt the need to assert control over the domestic environment and erase traces of femininityThough this book is just a small overview it provides good food for thought

  8. says:

    Rybczynski Witold Home A Short history of an Idea 1986I’ve been troubling over the notion of home since our Center for Public Humanities’ excellent Humanities Symposium on the topic this past February partially out of the interest to punch up the substance of my own presentation on the idea of Home and the Pratice of the Humanities Partly because I’ve troubled by the contradictions between the ethic of welcoming the stranger and alien that is so central to Christian and Jewish and Islamic codes of ethics and the fact that Christians proved to be among the most enthusiastic supporters of our country’s recent draconian policies against immigrants and refugees A people who takes pride in family values has found it relatively easy nevertheless to support the destruction of the children and families of other people even their fellow Christians’ and to support as well as a dramatic reduction in aid to identifiable refugees to say nothing of the aggressive expulsion of wayfarers among us who are tagged as “illegal” because they were born somewhere else Less painfully I’ve been mulling over what it means for an institution of higher education to talk about itself as a family for us to use language about our “home institution” for us to think of our disciplines as “homes” to have departmental homes or indeed what it means for us in the humanities when we say we no longer feel “at home” in higher ed as it is currently practiced I plunged into Rybczynski with these uestions in mind He did not answer my specific uestions since they are my uestions and not his; he did however help me think a little harder about the idea of home and where it comes fromRybczynski’s book is as the title of the book suggests a history of the idea of home At least it is partially that In the first half of the book Rybczynski makes clear that our current conceptions of home and all that it entails are cultural and historical constructs that tell us something about our period and not about a timeless entity This kind of thing is obviously a given of cultural history for the past fifty or so years but it was still good to think through this given our current obsessions of home as well as with the dramatic transformations of home as a lived practice given changes in economy entertainments religion and the like Rybczynski approaches this topic as an architectural historian and so much of his attention is given to space and how it is constructed decorated or not and used Among other things he points out that the notion of the house as a private and intimate space for the nuclear family is a modern development really almost unknown in the late middle ages and only gradually developing through the early modern to Victorian period Among other things according to Rybczynski there were no private spaces in medieval houses even among the propertied classes—the space of the merchants or other clerics home itself being shared by servants and family alike usually in one or at most two rooms that served as kitchen dining room office and bedroom depending on the time of day For Rybczynski this collective feature of the home reflected a certain cast of the late medieval or early modern mind one that was not oriented toward intimate self consciousness or toward private relations but towards one’s assigned place in the public world What mattered then was the external world and one’s place in it Life was a public affair and just as one did not have a strongly developed self consciousness one did not have a room of one’s own It was the medieval mind not the absence of comfortable chairs or central heating that explains the austerity of the medieval home 35For Rybczynski then there is not real need for our modern conception of the home or for our modern development of homes and neighborhoods with elaborate private spaces precisely because our houses and later homes reflect the nature of the culture in which we are living It was only later as the consciousness of the modern European turned toward individuation that we began to conceive of the need for smaller intimate and private spaces Rybczynski put a great deal of emphasis on the development of the idea of “home” to cultural and architectural developments among the Dutch that gradually—given the relative power the Dutch exercised economically and culturally in the modern period—influenced much of the rest of northern Europe and England For Rybczynski the Dutch and those they influenced gave us the dominant idea of home that continues to influence how we think of it today As he puts it “‘Home’ brought together the meanings of house and of household of dwelling and of refuge of ownership and of affection ‘Home’ meant the house but also everything that was in it and around it as well as the people and the sense of satisfaction and contentment that all these conveyed You could walk out of the house but you always returned home” 62 Moreover this transformation accompanied a new sense that the home was exclusively for the nuclear family unit and that unit was housed in a separate private space separate from and independent of the rest of society in some crucial respects In the Bourgeois period the house was no longer only a shelter against the elements a protection against the intruder—although these remained important functions—it had become the setting for a new compact social unit the family With the family came isolation but also family life and domesticity 77To some degree after establishing the new power of the idea of “home in the 17th through 19th centuries Rybczynski’s book becomes it’s second half a straightforward analysis of the changes to houses themselves That it it becomes less a cultural history of the idea of the home and an architectural history of the houses that provide the material ground out of which homes are imagined He provides extended discussions of the development of the idea of comfort in the Victorian period and on the notion that houses should be efficient in the industrial period of the late 19th and early 20th century and he reflects extensively on the potential meanings of various kinds of décor and architectural transformations in the latter part of the 20th century most of which he seems to see as negative developments But in these later chapters there is very little discussion of the ways in which different kinds of homehouses reflect different dimensions of being human in the modern and late modern periods of the 20th century To the degree that they do not I found them less compelling as if the thread of the narrative had been dropped and Rybczynski was not sure of what to make about 20th century and the kinds of people who made the homes that they did This is a flaw in the book’s conception and execution as a whole it seems to me And I have read other books using or building on or disputing with Rybczynski that do a better job of thinking through the cultural formations of houses and homes in the late 20th century Nevertheless people interested in the ways that the structure and design of houses has changed over time and reflect the times in which they are built will find the entire book a worthwhile read

  9. says:

    A tracing of how our modern ideas of comfort came aboutStarts with a discussion of medieval homes and monasteries including medieval inventions of furniture the first drawers were used by the Church Life in the Dutch Golden Age and genre painting showing their homes and the women in them because for the first time the home really was becoming the woman's sphere on account of the men starting to have places of business elsewhere The court of the Sun King and the evolution of chairs which are not common world wide and led to such other inventions such as desks and Rococo which was the first design solely used for the interior The English country house which meant that most upperclass English spent much of their time at home or at other people's homes The evolution of plumbing ventilation and light technologies that deeply influenced the constructions of homes and their comfort The American domestic engineers who got a good audience because of the American lack of servants and produced such innovations as a much smaller home that much less to sweep sinks with cabinets under them for cleaning supplies and kitchen counters Revival styles for interior decoratingThe New Spirit pavilion for the Art Demo Exposition Le Corbusier was involved Much discussion of how it talked about mechanism and making the home a machinery for living versus the domestic engineers who were actually doing the drudge work of working out how to make a home efficient and conseuently had no objections to decoration as long as it didn't hinder the housework Guess who comes off looking the worseConcludes discussing how a new modern style could come about the reason he suspects that we have so much old style decor is that modern decor is not comfortable It needs a new visionIf it sounds very various well all the topics fit in

  10. says:

    “The notion that what is artless must be better than what is not reuires a precarious leap in reasoning but for all that it carries great weight It is a shallow conceit A little reflection shows that all human culture is artificial cooking no less than music furniture no less than painting Why prepare time consuming sauces when a raw fruit would suffice? Why bother with musical instruments when the voice is pleasant enough? Why paint pictures when looking at nature is satisfying? Why sit up when you can suat? The answer is that it makes life richer interesting and pleasurable”“Imagine yourself on a winter afternoon with a pot of tea a book a reading light and two or three huge pillows to lean back against Now make yourself comfortable Not in some way which you can show to other people and say how much you like it I mean so that you really like it for yourself You put the tea where you can reach it but in a place where you can’t possibly knock it over You pull the light down to shine on the book but not too brightly and so that you can’tsee the naked bulb You put the cushions behind you and place them carefully one by one just where you want them to support your back your neck your arm so that you are supported just comfortably just as you want to sip your tea and read and dream” uoted from Christopher Alexander

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