Prof Deborah Sugg Ryan, from the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries at the University of Portsmouth, made a presentation on her book Ideal Homes, 1918-39: Domestic Design and Suburban Modernism, at Kingston University’s Modern Interiors Research Centre annual symposium at Dorich House Museum on 30 January.
Her book explores the aspirations and tastes of new suburban communities in interwar England for domestic architecture and design that was both modern and nostalgic in a period where homeownership became the norm. It investigates the ways in which new suburban class and gender identities were forged through the architecture, design and decoration of the home, in choices such as ebony elephants placed on mantelpieces and modern Easiwork dressers in kitchens.
Ultimately, it argues that a specifically suburban modernism emerged, which looked backwards to the past whilst looking forward to the future. Thus the inter-war ‘ideal’ home was both a retreat from the outside world and a site of change and experimentation. The book also examines how the interwar home is lived in today. It will appeal to academics and students in design, social and cultural history as well as a wider readership curious about interwar homes.
Deborah’s research focuses on the housebuilding boom of the interwar years, when Britain became a nation of homeowners. She investigates the ways in which ordinary people expressed new class and gender identities through the design, architecture and decoration of interwar homes then and now. She argues that these ‘ideal’ homes combine nostalgia for the past and longing for the future resulting in a new specifically suburban modernism.