This OER project supports the survey course HIST 7012 Contemporary Design: Origins and Issues, which is delivered to third-year students in the Bachelor of Interior Design Degree Program offered through Fanshawe College in London Ontario Canada. The role of the course is to encourage interior design students to contemplate, discuss, and engage with the history of art and design, and visual and material culture from the period following the Enlightenment to our present moment. Many of the chapters include suggested readings found in most academic libraries. The format of the course will include assigned readings and/or videos and others of choice, in some parts the student can choose their own reading as per the topic or subject of the module.

The pursuit of knowledge in the fields of art and design culture began well before the period of the enlightenment. Our first chapter acts as a review of Fanshawe College’s second-year course MATS-7007 Design and Material Culture.

The mass education of the Western public had its origins during the Renaissance and even at some points during the middle ages. Earlier to these periods, literacy, and the pursuit of knowledge, or perhaps we could call the pursuit of philosophy, rested on the responsibility of the church and ruling classes. The traditional canon of Art History is based upon the history of the Western world, which follows a chronological and colonial trajectory; beginning in the period of Ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome, and moving throughout Western Europe to the Americas. Due to the canonical stance of the discipline of art history, I will follow a typically western ordering of things, as that is how our Course Outline has been formatted.  However, my objective for this text is to also incorporate ideas of coloniality, and difference, and to point out where there are problematic understandings of visual culture, either in the collective consciousness or in the ways in which the history of art, design, and its origins are typically taught.

With this being said, (to my students), I highly encourage you to question the information you read in the textbook, and if I bring up or compile anything which encourages you to question the nature of how history is organized and described, feel free to articulate this in class. Our class is a safe space for us to co-construct our collective experience, lasting during our time together, and to encourage further contemplation once the final grades have been received. We are building this course together.

As we will be borrowing ebooks throughout this programming, make sure you have an account with


Please Read

Navigating the Past: What Does History Offer the Discipline of Interior Design? Erin Cunningham Ph.D.

For students of Fanshawe College:


Image of PDF of the first reading in the text


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Origins of Contemporary Art, Design, and Interiors Copyright © by Jennifer Lorraine Fraser is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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