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Designing the dinner party : advice on dining and d├ęcor in London and Paris, 1860-1914 / R. Rich [journal article]
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In : Journal of design history special issue: Domestic design advice Vol.16 No.1 2003 pp.49-61
journal article
Advice books were widely published and purchased in London and Paris in the second half of the nineteenth century. They were available on nearly all aspects of life, including what, how, when and where to eat. Advice literature provided a set of guidelines
for how to decorate the dining room. The way that space was organized and negotiated was crucial to middle-class perceptions of the role of dining both in everyday life and for special occasions. The dining room was one of the most important rooms in every middle-class home, in London and even more so in Paris. Though fashions changed, certain basic ideas about the space and design of this room, whose role was simultaneously public and private, decorative and functional, remained constant throughout the period. Table settings differed between private family meals and more formal dinner parties and, at every occasion, important messages were conveyed by the physical appearance of the room in which meals were consumed. The imposition of a set of standards of spatial and decorative ideals was a key feature of how the bourgeoisie placed their stamp on the environments they inhabited. Looking at the dining room from three analytic perspectives, of architecture, furniture and table decoration, it is possibleto examine the way a fairly unified ideal of middle-class dining room design was disseminated through the popular genre of advice literature.