By focusing on the interplay between the fields of design, architecture, exhibitions and curatorial practices, the authors in this special issue of Fabrications have uncovered new historical connections, shed new light on iconic buildings, and furthered new methodologies and theoretical approaches. As guest editors, our methodological provocation for this issue was the critical examination of the shared and overlapping influences, approaches and practitioners within design, architecture, exhibition and curatorial practices. Too frequently these fields are siloed from each other, reciprocal knowledge ignored and methodological exchange eschewed. Yet all share a lineage as Kulturwissenschaft — cultural histories of material objects — and in Australia they have been significantly shaped by the scholarship of Professor Emerita Harriet Edquist.
The aims of Looking inside Design are threefold. Firstly, to foreground the entwined histories and the traversing of professional boundaries between the fields of design, architecture, exhibition and curatorial practices. Secondly, by connecting these disciplines, richer and more complex cultural histories can be unearthed, thus broadening the conceptual framework for the discipline of architectural history. In seeking to explore the possibilities of enlarging the scope of architectural history we tap into a rich and well-established agenda in Fabrications’s special issues, and a broader turn in architectural history as epitomised by the Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative, active since 2006 and dedicated to fostering innovative scholarship from multidisciplinary perspectives. Finally, this special issue commemorates Professor Edquist’s career as she retires from an academic position at RMIT University and as director of the RMIT Design Archives, though not from scholarship itself. Edquist’s work as historian, editor, commentator, curator, and archivist has animated architectural, design and exhibition studies for decades. She leaves a significant legacy of influence and scholarship which this issue attempts to mark. Dominating many of the papers, such that it constitutes a parallel theme of the issue, are women’s voices and those outside the discipline of architecture. This is entirely fitting in a festschrift for an art historian turned architectural and design historian, and exhibition curator.