Interior Skins

Interior Skins

Lois Weinthal _ Ryerson University


The metaphor of a ‘second skin’ denotes a discrete layer that provides a conceptual bridge between body and building. The textile designer, Anni Albers, whose work grew out of the Bauhaus wrote more directly about second and third skins as inhabitable layers when she wrote: “…if we think of clothing as a secondary skin we might enlarge on this thought and realize that the enclosure of walls in a way is a third covering, that our habitation is another “habit”.”1  In this quote, Albers alluded to architectural interior surfaces as an additional layer that built upon the body, and established it as a discrete third skin.

Our skin is the first layer that we inhabit and has been the foundation of dialogues and concepts that have influenced architecture, interiors, and decoration, taking the form of varying proximities to the body.  Most familiar is the metaphor of skin and bones that have slipped into the lexicon of architectural construction, whereby skin typically has more flexibility but is often dependent upon structure.  When skin is the focus of discussion in interior design, it is freed from the confines of architecture because of the multiple scales it can adopt, as found in furniture, finishes and curtains.  As a result, interior skins are not limited to structure but have many possible configurations because of its flexibility.

1. Albers, A. (1957). The Pliable Plane: Textiles in Architecture. Perspecta, 4, 36-41.

Shawl + Pavilion _Kelsey Odom



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