Hacking the taste cycle: a process oriented view for sustainable interior fit-out

Hilde Snyman, Zakkiya Khan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


Interior design is a discipline concerned with human inhabitation. It provides the capacity for inhabitant identities to inform and be informed by the interior. Interiors are cultural products, reflective of societal identity and taste (Königk & Khan 2015). Following Bourdieu (1979 [1984]), tastemaking is a repeated, cyclic process. As tastemakers, interior designers are responsible for deciding how selected goods are made desirable through responding to, interpreting and shaping the tastes of society. The cyclic nature of interiors is prevalent in the commercial realm. The conventional fit-out lifecycle is governed by lease periods of five years and the physical deterioration of shopfitted elements after ten years of use. This results in the recurring disposal and generation of interior fit-outs within each decade. From the perspective of environmental sustainability, this repeated cycle of production to consumption to disposal is problematic in its contribution to wasteful practice.

In a conscious movement towards sustainability, we recognise the role of interior design as providing an opportunity to influence inhabitants’ tastes for environmental awareness. Since interior design is a reflection of societal taste and acts to re-inform taste, we suggest that this consciousness be integrated within designing itself with a re-defined concept for the production of interior fit-outs.

The aim of this paper is to address the wasteful aspects of cyclic interiors through a process-oriented-view, a philosophy of the food cycle (Meisner-Jensen 2011), interpreted as an approach for interior design. It shifts tastemaking in and for interiors from a product-driven to a holistic, process-oriented approach, emphasising the lifecycle of space and its artefacts.

Following this holistic view, the paper suggests a set of guidelines based on the application of process-oriented-thinking within conceptual design phases. It asserts for multi-dimensional approaches in which all aspects of the lifecycle are considered from the onset of the design process. The intention is to contribute towards developing sustainable practices for interior design while promoting ‘a taste’ for sustainable consumption to inhabitants.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication8th International DEFSA Conference 2019
Subtitle of host publicationDESIGNED FUTURES. Design educators interrogating the future of design knowledge, research and education.
EditorsSusan Giloi, Herman Botes
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781990930812
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2019


  • sustainability
  • circular design
  • commercial interior design
  • fit-out
  • interior lifecycle


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