Interior Britishness – The Policy of Taste in The Great Interior Design Challenge

Maria Borsuk


This paper looks at British home décor to analyse its distinct features from the perspective of a specific national identity. It also examines the impact of the upper class’ taste dictating the norms for the rest of society despite having a different cultural capital. The BBC programme, The Great Interior Design Challenge, is examined as a good example of the British tendency to seek advice from  authorities in a field who are the arbiters of taste. The specific competitive scheme and aim of this TV programme present a telling body of information to examine which features are favoured among the winners and which are condemned in failed projects. As a result, the programme captures and reflects the preferred national British taste. The concepts and prescriptions of cultural capital as well as media and authorities as the source of taste are visible in this society. The members of the lower social classes, being instructed by the professionals, strive to follow the upper-class’ taste. However, their choices are determined by the education they received and people by whom they are surrounded. The upper classes are more accustomed to art due to their families’ art collections and art education, so their taste is more sophisticated and informed. Moreover, the study of the programme pays attention to the presence of certain distinctive national features of British society visible in its home décor.


taste; home décor; cultural capital

Full Text:



Abercrombie, Nicholas et al. 1995. Contemporary British Society. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Bayley, Steven. 1991. Taste. London: Faber and Faber Limited.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1979. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Bradbury, Dominic. 2021. “What Makes British Interior Design Special?”. Country&Town House Magazine. Accessed: 09.01.2022

Esher, Lionel. 1991. The Glory of the English House. London: Barrie & Jenkins.

Fox, Kate. 2014. Watching the English. London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Gronow, Jukka. 1997. The Sociology of Taste. London: Psychology Press.

House of Lords. 2008. “This Library Note, Thursday 19th June 2008: Britishness”. Accessed 09.01.2022.

Madigan, Ruth and Moira Munro. 1996. “‘House Beautiful’: Style and Consumption in the Home”. Sociology. Vol. 30, Nr 1.

Morris, William. 1883. “Hopes and Fears for Art: Five Lectures Delivered in Birmingham, London, and Nottingham, 1878-1881.” Strangeways and Sons.

Morris, William. 1885. Useful Work Versus Useless Toil. The Jud Publishing Co..

Pevsner, Nikolaus. 2011. Pioneers of Modern Design. London: Palazzo Editions Ltd..

Rosner, Victoria. 2005. Modernism and the Architecture of Private Life. New York: Columbia University Press.

Shaw, Tanya, Alison Kirkham. 2014. The Great Interior Design Challenge. Season 2. BBC, Studio Lambert.

Storry, Michael and Peter Childs. 2002. British Cultural Identities. London: Psychology Press.

Data publikacji: 2022-12-28 15:00:06
Data złożenia artykułu: 2022-01-12 22:05:08


Total abstract view - 203
Downloads (from 2020-06-17) - PDF - 0



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2022 Maria Borsuk

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.