1st Edition

Design at Home Domestic Advice Books in Britain and the USA since 1945

By Grace Lees Maffei Copyright 2013

    Domestic advice literature is rich in information about design, ideals of domesticity, consumption and issues of identity, yet this literature remains a relatively neglected resource in comparison with magazines and film.

    Design at Home brings together etiquette, homemaking and home decoration advice as sources in the first systematic demonstration of the historical value of domestic advice literature as a genre of word and image, and a discourse of dominance. This book traces a transatlantic domestic dialogue between the UK and the US as the chapters explore issues of design, domesticity, consumption, social interaction and identity markers including class, gender and age.

    Areas covered include:

    • the use of domestic advice by historians

    • relationships between advice, housing and the middle class

    • links between advice and gender

    • advice and the teenage consumer

    Design at Home is essential reading for students and scholars of cultural and social history, design history, and cultural studies.

    Introduction - Defining a Genre: Domestic Advice Literature  Part I  1. The Roots of Domestic Advice Literature  2. Real Ideals: Advice and Fiction  Part II  3. From Decline and Fall to Rise and Sprawl: Advice for the Middle Classes  4. Easier Living? Lady Behave! Advice and Gender  5. Advice and the Teenage Consumer at Home  Conclusion


    Grace Lees-Maffei is a Reader in Design History at the University of Hertfordshire and the Managing Editor of the Journal of Design History. She researches the mediation of design, edited Writing Design: Words and Objects and co-edited Made in Italy: Rethinking a Century of Italian Design and The Design History Reader.

    'Lees-Maffei’s compact book does justice to the sociological and the anthropological complexities of her subject. With the ways in which these factors are astutely coordinated, the book adds very considerably to our understanding of the meaning of the forms and usages of the home.' - Stefan Muthesius, Interiors

    'The author effectively demonstrates that peering beneath the surface offers opportunities to inspect aspects of domestic life, as well as the all too easily lost connections that domestic life has to larger social and cultural trends … The very thorough analysis provided by Design at Home, supported by excellent referencing, bibliography and index, very effectively reveals the potential for advice books as a field for further research whilst demonstrating the value of an interdisciplinary approach to the subject.' - Dr Graham McLaren, Journal of Design History