I still remember my theatre teacher Juan Carlos Corazza saying “set design is not the same as interior design”. This is a particular pitfall of naturalistic theatre, but the consideration can be useful for other live arts aswell. The main idea behind this statement is that set design is not about decorating, but about supporting the performance. Stages tend to be as neutral as possible, pure space. Social scientist and philosopher Michel de Certeau in “The Practice of Everyday Life” makes a distinction between a space (which is undefined, open and common) and a place (which is defined, delineated and individual). A space is polyvalent: fit for a greater variety of things but offering no specialized features. A place is specific: appropriate for certain uses but lacking versatility. Finding the appropriate point along the spectrum between space and place would be a decisive step for a set design. This fine-tuning between general and specific, versatile and specialized can be extrapolated to many areas of life. Different situations may benefit from different approaches.


María Ferrara



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