Mise-en-abyme, in the context of western art history, is a formal technique whereby a copy of an image is placed within itself, often in a way that suggests an infinitely recurring sequence or an embedded multiplicity of meaning. Translating literally as placing into the abyss, the term was appropriated by French author Andre Gide in the early 20th century, borrowing from heraldry’s tendency to reference symbols within larger symbols. In art, its recursive nature often helps to structure and clarify the wider interpretations of a work, an echo of the work placed within itself to compound and reiterate its essence. Similarly in literature and film, mise-en-abyme acts as a mirror or frame within the overarching narrative, a point of self-reflection that serves to strengthen the broader message. In architecture, it can represent a space within a space, interiority, the construction of new ideas taking place within the old.
Placed in the context of interior design, en-Abyme Postgraduate Scholarship for Interior Architecture is a directive, compelling students to approach the existing design languages of Aotearoa as sites for further reflection and discovery. Every creative discipline has its own distinct symbiotic vernacular, informed by the history and patterns of the surrounding landscape and tasked with evolving to reflect the ongoing growth of collective and diverse identities. This scholarship advocates for further expansion of interior design vernacular, both in size and dimensionality. Structured to provide financial support and additional resources with the aim of facilitating the ambition and creativity of postgraduate students, the intent is to enable further research and development of ideas that might otherwise remain unexplored. There are no additional demands accompanying the scholarship, its function being to equip the recipient with the tools needed to recognise and refine their own perspective, and as inferred by the name, strengthen the interior architecture industry of Aotearoa from within.
Taking into consideration the large proportion of students who choose not to pursue postgraduate studies due to financial constraints, or make the often necessary compromise of deferring or engaging in their studies part time for similar reasons, eligibility for the scholarship is therefore dictated in part by the financial need of the applicant. The scholarship will cover the fees of the postgraduate year in entirety, with transparency surrounding the distribution of funds and any communication between the university and the scholarship board. Ideally, the alleviation of financial burden in conjunction with the additional resources offered will culminate in a learning environment that is less pressurised and more conducive to development driven by exploration.
The scholarship will coordinate the involvement of guest lecturers and established or practicing interior architects and designers. The encouragement of extended critique with those who have been integral to the formation and ongoing expansion of Aotearoa’s current design framework, will provide insight into the wider landscape of interiors, emboldening new design voices in the process. Within this structure lies the opportunity for the recipient to build professional connections, foster best-practice principles, and to recognise their own voice as it emerges through ongoing discourse. An implicit benefit is the chance to cultivate relationships, receiving mentorship from individuals who have refined specific design practices that align with the recipient’s own field of interest. In keeping with the theme of fostering dimensionality, the scholarship can also assist in facilitating an internship within a firm optimally suited to the recipient’s direction, strengthening the ties between those occupying the industry and those preparing to enter it.
There are no performance expectations or mandatory outcomes accompanying the scholarship, outside of the prescribed March (Prof) Postgraduate curriculum. The support offered, financial and otherwise, will align and assist in the fulfilling of any postgraduate programme requisites, and grant the applicant the agency to further pursue their own areas of interest, while determining and monitoring their own expectations for growth. This pursuit may result in the physical realisation of a selected project, the continued development and refinement of themes explored in undergraduate study, or simply increased time spent in the studio. Components of one’s own creative language are often unearthed in the process or ensuing collateral of discovery. By removing any emphasis placed on deliverables, the recipient, having displayed a strong work ethic and coherency of themes in undergraduate study, is invited to engage in further development, without any caveats or demands compounding the pressure of the existing postgraduate requirements.
Harboured within this scholarship are multiple aspirations: to support a wider array of perspectives within the field of interior architecture and design; to see the industry itself strengthened; to witness our design languages broadening in concert with the expanding dimensionality of Aotearoa. Interconnected as these aims are, the overarching intent of this scholarship is to act as a conduit for internal growth, clearing the way for potential where it may have otherwise faltered, and imparting the experience and tools needed for the applicant to forge their place within the wider interior architecture and design industry. With a comprehensive view of our existing interior design languages as a backdrop, the scholarship hopes to aid the formation of new perspectives, pulling reference from both the existing design lexicon, and the multifaceted identities of contemporary Aotearoa as it continues to take shape.
— Gabriella Bowden
en-Abyme Postgraduate Scholarship for Interior Architecture
has been awarded for the 2022 academic year.
Applicants for the 2023 academic year will need:
This scholarship is open to third year students studying towards a Master of Interior Architecture. Applicants will be assessed on the quality and depth of their final presentation in their third year Bachelor of Architectural Studies degree majoring in Interior Architecture.
Applicants must be intending to enrol in the Master of Interior Architecture for the year following their application.
There are no explicit performance criteria or required grade point averages.
Decisions will be made by panel review and discussion. In its pilot year, decisions will be made by Rufus Knight with the assistance of Knight Associates studio and members of the Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington Interior Architecture faculty. This may expand to include alumni of the scholarship and other professional practitioners or guest jurors.
Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington
Master of Interior Architecture programme