The Meaning of Threshold: A preliminary typological study of the symbolism of entry

This presentation represents findings from a preliminary typological study of theories related to “Threshold”, conducted as part of a larger typological study of the theories of Christopher Day. The aim of the study was to inform and assist interior design practitioners in implementing abstract design theories through the analysis and interpretation of a specific set of Day’s ideas. The method employed content analysis to develop a typology for the classification of theories. It then deconstructed and interpreted the results using the elements and principles of design as a language familiar to design practitioners. As a result, the study generated a series of conceptual design sketches accompanied by descriptive narratives. Specifically, this presentation will share those findings related to the class of “Threshold”.

Some architecture and interior design theorists view the threshold as one of the most significant parts of a space. This threshold can be present in a door, doorway, entry, gate, hallway, or anteroom. An understanding of the meaning and importance of threshold in establishing spatial identity can assist interior design practitioners in creating a better interior environment.

Day and other contemporary theorists have provided a foundation of literature supporting the psychological significance of the built environment in the development of psychological wellness. It is the opinion of this author that while these concepts are valuable to interior designers, they lack sufficient explanatory examples. Thus, they are less likely to be adopted by practitioners. Additional examples of interior-specific applications could be of use to the interior design community. Therefore, it was the purpose of this study to take a preliminary step in applying these abstract concepts to the practical solutions of interior design.

This exploration yields useful results for practitioners and educators. Specifically, this presentation will share the resulting typology rubric for theories related to “Threshold”, including a keyword guide for a variety of theorists’ works. This rubric will be made freely available to interested educators, practitioners, and theorists and feedback on all aspects of the study will be welcome. This presentation will conclude with a participatory discussion of the potential implications of the study’s results.

cite this work

Clark, L. (2008) The meaning of threshold: A preliminary typological study of the symbolism of entry [Abstract], 12-13. In proceedings of the the IDEC Midwest Regional Conference, Lincoln, NE.

presentation slides


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