This years Benno Premsela Lecture was given by the American novelist Matthew Stadler. His lecture, delivered in the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam, asked "What is the interior?"
Technological and political change—particularly the reach of digital technologies and state and market involvement in them—has made conventional notions of "the interior" obsolete. Stadler proposes a broader concept—the interior as the space of composition—and argues for the urgency of design work and research into this broader concept.
Stadlers five novels (including Allan Stein and Landscape: Memory) animate dream-like interiors within vividly described cityscapes that are equal parts historical and fantastic, in prose the American writer Lydia Davis calls "permeated with Nabokovian grace and intelligence." The late critic Guy Davenport esteemed him "among the foremost gifted, vigorous, and original novelists of our time."
Since working as literary editor of Nest: A Quarterly of Interiors, all six years of the much-missed journals existence Stadler has been a welcome literary voice in architecture and design, most recently with his new book Deventer (NAi010 publishers), about the interplay of power and hope in the design process.
ABOUT THE BENNO PREMSELA LECTURE
Each year Het Nieuwe Instituut invites a speaker to share his or her views on contemporary developments in design. Previous speakers have been Michael Rock, Werner Sewing, Ann Meskens, Józeph Mrozek, Henk Oosterling, Nancy Etcoff, Richard Sennett and Gunter Pauli.
The Benno Premsela Lecture is part of Landscape and Interior, a multiyear exhibition, research and studio programme at Het Nieuwe Instituut. The exhibitions 1:1 Sets for Erwin Olaf, Bekleidung and Richard Hutten at the Sonneveld House comprise part of the same programme.