Home: A Short History of an Idea

Overview

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 delightfully explicates the very idea of "home."

You'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 ...

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Overview

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 delightfully explicates the very idea of "home."

You'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 of architectural necessity, and much more. Most of all, Home opens a rare window into our private lives—and how we really want to live.

An assessment of the social, political and economic factors that have shaped Western concepts of privacy, domesticity and comfort.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In a loosely configured essay, Rybczynski (Architecture, McGill Univ.) discusses the idea of comfort and the Western cultural attitudes that have shaped it since the end of the middle ages. Rather than dealing with the technical aspects of architecture, he reviews such cultural variables as intimacy and privacy, domesticity, ease, and ideas about light, air, and efficiency as they have changed over time. Essentially Rybczynski makes a plea for the primacy of cultural ideals as a basis for creating psychologically comfortable homes. Though he is selective in his history and examples, this is a worthwhile counterweight to the all-too-common technical practices of modern architects. Recommended. Jack Perry Brown, Ryerson & Burnham Libs., Art Inst. of Chicago
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670811472
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/28/1986
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 1.00 (w) x 1.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Witold Rybczynski of Polish parentage, was born in Edinburgh in 1943, raised in Surrey, and attended Jesuit schools in England and Canada. He received Bachelor of Architecture (1960) and Master of Architecture (1972) degrees from McGill University in Montreal. He is the author of more than fifty articles and papers on the subject of housing, architecture, and technology, including the books Taming the Tiger, Paper Heroes, The Most Beautiful House in the World, Waiting for the Weekend, and Looking Around: A Journey Through Architecture (all available in Penguin), and most recently, City Life. He lives with his wife, Shirley Hallam, in Philadelphia and is the Martin and Margy Myerson Professor of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Chapter One: Nostalgia
*Two: Intimacy and Privacy
*Three: Domesticity
*Four: Commodity and Delight
*Five: Ease
*Six: Light and Air
*Seven: Efficiency
*Eight: Style and Substance
*Nine: Austerity
*Ten: Comfort and Well-Being Notes Index

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2005

    Homes of Today and Yesterday

    Witold Rybczynski's Home: A Short History Of An Idea, is an historical and informational text following the devlopment of the concept of home and discusses the psychological effects of different types of dwellings and personal space, architecture, and society. Home is a well-structured and planned tracing of society's development of the concepts of home and comfort and relates to today's audiences with a new perspective on where and how they live. One of Mr. Rybczynski's strengths as a writer is his conversational writing style and the flow of the organization of his main ideas. Home instantly dives into the development of society's ideas of comfort and home with an almost staggering jump into a strong comparison and analysis of the four style lines of the Ralph Lauren collection. Mr. Rybczynski highlights the different aspects of the setting that Lauren creates to entice the public and the different props he uses to create this feeling of home. Home utilizes the time line approach, begining in the medieval era, to explain Ralph Lauren's heightend understanding of the public's ideas of comfort. Mr. Rybczynski also examines the work of Le Corbusier and relates the modernist movement with current modern trends. Mr. Rybczynski's book remeinds architects and interior designers that even in today's society it is easy to get caught up in what is in style or what would make a statement rather than what is comfertable for occupants to inhabit. I recommend Mr. Rybczynski's book to anyone who would appreciate seeing their home in a whole new way.

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