Outside Interior : ?Interior

Suzie Attiwill

conference: DARE 2017: aberrant nuptials
date: November 20, 2017
venue: Orpheus Institute, Auditorium
format: in words
practice: space
keywords: Michel Foucault, transcendence

abstract about the author(s)


An encounter between interior design and Deleuze has created ?interior—a stuttering that produces a pause between stimulus and response to open an interior in an outside. Practising with Deleuze as an interior design academic, curator, exhibition designer, and writer, concepts of interior and interiority are challenged and transformed. Deleuze’s claim to a hatred of interiority (“Letter to a Harsh Critic”) foregrounds self-givens assumed as natural in dominant and dominating ways of thinking that inform and shape practices where interior is equated with enclosed space and interiority with an inherent subjectivity and a pre-given subject; where interior and exterior are coupled as a binary machine—   as either/or. However, one also becomes sensitive to a refrain of “interior,” “interiority,” “inside” and “in” throughout his writings in relation to exterior and, more specifically, “the inside as an operation of the outside” (Deleuze, Foucault), “the Outside interior” (Deleuze and Guattari, What is Philosophy?), and “the ultimate folding of the line outside, to produce an ‘expectant interiority’” (Deleuze, “A Portrait of Foucault”).

For Deleuze (and Guattari), “the choice is between transcendence and chaos (What is Philosophy?). The choice invokes different exteriors and ways of practising—between assuming the pre-framed and already given as something to be given value and hence reproduced, and practising in the midst of forces, change, and chance to produce something new. This is the difference between making relations “to” something that is assumed as pre-existing and substantial, and making relations “in” movement. Another conceptual shift that is critical in this move to “Outside interior” is to understand relations as external to their terms as distinct from being between terms/identities, where subjects and objects are effects rather than causes.

?interior is a pickup from Deleuze. It steals and misquotes his ?-being that interrupts the dialectical relation—and hence negative implication—between being and non-being to enable being as a problematic. ?interior moves from posing interior?—a “what” question that directs one to define and answer in a categorical and universal way. In contrast, ?interior—with the question mark coming before is not even easy to say; one stammers verbally and mentally. ?interior effects a pause before the assumptions of “interior” and opens it up to an outside of contingency, chance, and variation.

Preparing this paper, I have been caught in an encounter with the figure of  Narcissus    in Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition where he writes: “We must first contemplate something else—the water, or Diana, or the woods—in order to be filled with an image   of ourselves.” An outside interior nuptial. Deleuze’s ideas of sensation, contraction, contemplation, and imagination highlight regimes  of  representation  and  recognition as secondary; in doing so, they open an opportunity—in the pause, in the middle—to intervene and experiment.

“The desert, experimentation on oneself, is our only identity, our single chance for all the combinations which inhabit us” (Deleuze and Parnet, Dialogues).

about the author(s)

Suzie Attiwill

Suzie Attiwill is Associate Professor, Interior Design, and Deputy Dean of Learning and Teaching in the School of Architecture and Design, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. Since 1991 her practice has involved exhibition design, curatorial work, writing, and teaching. Projects pose questions of interior and interiority in relation to contemporary conditions of living, inhabitation, subjectivity, pedagogy, and praxis. Her creative practice research is conducted through a practice of designing with a curatorial inflection attending to arrangements (and rearrangements) of spatial, temporal, and material relations. Previous roles include Artistic Director, Craft Victoria; Chair, West Space Artist Led Initiative; Chair, IDEA (Interior Design/ Interior Architecture Educators Association); and Executive Editor, IDEA Journal.

info & contact


RMIT University, Melbourne, AU


suzie.attiwill [AT] rmit.edu.au