Ideas

The Per­spex Dolls’ House

This Per­spex dolls’ house is an analy­sis of the tra­di­tion­al dolls’ house and breaks it up into components.

December 2020

Perspex doll's house façade


In the tra­di­tion­al dolls’ house objects are assem­bled in a room, or box. In the dolls’ house of Petronel­la Oort­man, still vis­i­ble in the Rijksmu­se­um in Ams­ter­dam over 700 objects were dis­played in nine box­es. All objects were made to scale. 

The inte­ri­or of the Per­spex dolls’ house can be com­pared to a the­atre. The con­tents of the house are reduced to a series of tableaux; Fur­ni­ture, Bath­rooms, Kitchens, wall­pa­per and con­fig­u­ra­tions of pro­to­typ­i­cal peo­ple are com­posed on strips and slide through the house and are made of Perspex.

A series of etched back­drops depict moods and ideas: move­ment, thoughts and poems. These drop down through slots in the top of the box. 

Per­son­al pho­tographs, which bring togeth­er space, actions and per­son­al mem­o­ries are engraved in tim­ber, per­haps a more liv­ing mate­r­i­al than Per­spex which stands, in this case, for the gener­ic and imper­son­al. The scale of the com­po­nents doesn’t cor­re­spond with the real scale of the events but of the mem­o­ry it takes up. So pho­tographs of impor­tant, or unim­por­tant events’ are burned on tim­ber cut outs.

A pic­ture of the façade is print­ed on paper and can be stuck to the front of the box to give the house an address. The façade has not been impor­tant for the inte­ri­or of the dolls house. The ear­ly Dutch dolls hous­es did­n’t have a façade. In dis­cus­sions on the home and the house, activ­i­ties and con­tent are always spo­ken of in terms of inte­ri­or, not the exterior.

The ter­raced house per­haps shows how many peo­ple move through a house over time. Many ter­raced hous­es are over 100 years old. In each house peo­ple come and go with or with­out chil­dren, fur­ni­ture and their own rules to occu­py the house. What makes the house a home is the com­bi­na­tion of the gener­ic, but vital ele­ments of the home so peo­ple can cre­ate their per­son­al mem­o­ries. These can take place any­where in the home, but the event in com­bi­na­tion with the place where it took place and what took place cre­ate for occu­pants the geog­ra­phy of the home.

Per­spex Dol­l’s House