At Home with the World, at the Geffrye Museum in London, opens on 20 March 2012 and will reveal just how cosmopolitan our homes have been since the 17th century.
The museum, which focuses on the living rooms of the English middle classes from 1600 to the present day, will reinterpret its period rooms, highlighting domestic designs, materials and decorations influenced by a wide range of cultures.
In the earlier period, there was an emphasis on Classical design from Ancient Greece and Rome. In the late 19th century, the English middle classes developed a taste for the exotic, so this part of the exhibition will feature the Japanning technique. The 20th century saw an increased interest in Art Nouveau, Art Deco and emerging manufacturing technology.
The design influences mirrored new social customs, such as tea drinking in the 18th century. To illustrate this, the exhibition will feature early vessels used for tea drinking, such as Chinese porcelain teapots and saucers. These are objects which ‘became completely assimilated into our tea-drinking practice’, says exhibition curator Alex Goddard.
At Home with the World is part of Stories of the World, a London 2012 Cultural Olympiad project, where exhibitions across London will explore four aspects of life in the capital through the centuries – home, identity, journeys and place. The theme of identity will feature at the Horniman Museum; journeys at the London Transport Museum; and place at the Museum of London.
Examining how diverse cultures shaped our personal spaces, At Home with the World will inevitably trigger the question ‘what makes a home’.
At Home with the World runs from 20 March-9 September 2012 at The Geffrye Museum, 136 Kingsland Road, London, E2