• Nature Inside: Plants and Flowers in the Modern Interior
    Penny Sparke
    Yale University Press, 2021
    Penny Sparke

Illustration in John Mollinson's “The New Practical Window Gardener,” 1877.

Nature Inside examines the roles and meaning that human beings have imposed on plants and flowers by bringing them into both their private and their public indoor spaces and aligning them with architectural and design agendas, from the eighteenth century the present. Focusing on the nature/culture debate, it highlights the various forms of control—colonial power, scientific scrutiny, domestication and gender discrimination among them—that human beings have exerted over nature inside. It finishes by highlighting the links between nature inside and the crisis of the environment and asks whether the former is part of the problem or part of the solution.

Penny Sparke is professor of design history at Kingston University, London. She studied French literature at the University of Sussex from 1967–71 and was awarded her PhD in design history from Brighton Polytechnic in 1975. She taught Design History at Brighton Polytechnic (1975–82) and the Royal College of Art (1982–99). She has given keynote addresses, curated exhibitions, and broadcast and published widely. Her publications include Design in Italy: 1870 To the Present (Abbeville Press, 1989); The Plastics Age: From Modernity to Post-Modernity (Victoria and Albert Museum, 1990); As Long as It’s Pink: The Sexual Politics of Taste (Pandora Press, 1995); An Introduction to Design and Culture, 1900 to the present, 3rd edition (Routledge, 2004); Elsie de Wolfe: The Birth of Modern Interior Decoration (Acanthus Press, 2005); and The Modern Interior (Reaktion Books, 2008).