According to Emanuele Coccia, author of Philosophy of the home, our home environment is the best metaphor for the pursuit of happiness: that's why
In his book The philosophy of the house. Domestic space and happiness (Einaudi, 2021), Emanuele Coccia explores domesticity as a moral place , the space where the tension towards happiness is consumed. Metaphor of the human and its dynamics, according to Emanuele Coccia the home is the aspiration to transform the world so that it is hospitable for all living beings. And it is the space to imagine a post-digital future.

Emanuele Coccia, explored the house with the philosopher's gaze. Why?

The book was born from a very personal reason: the large number of removals I made and which forced me to ask myself every time what it means to build a house and live in it. It is when you move that you realize that the house is not the mineral shell of walls and floors, but a world of objects and people that travels with you , you have aggregated and what you need to be happy . The house is a strange connection that we try to make between the psychological or spiritual dimension and the material dimension.

Philosophy has always paid little attention to the home and more to the city… Why?

The problem is not only of the philosophers: even the architects have treated the house badly. Rem Koolhaas, Aldo Rossi… there are many books on the city written by architects who are obviously part of a common cultural background. There is almost nothing on the house . The investment of thought concerned the city more because starting from the Renaissance, work was snatched from the home and transferred there. The urban dimension becomes the place of production, of thought, of confrontation, mostly male. The city space is invested with an ideal of equality and collective evolution.

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What is the role of design in building the happiness that can come from domesticity?

You move and you realize that home is the little world you need to have close by, but you move to live better. And it is that "best" that makes the house a moral reality. Everyone puts what he wants into that project. The fact that the best corresponds to a house tells us that design is a science of happiness , it is the knowledge of that best, the divination technique that allows us to be happier. In the golden years of Italian design this was very clear. There was a dimension of playful discovery , less functional and more devoted to the invention of a way of life, of a possible new happiness. The point is that the project does not last long, it must be reinvented all the time. We are not naturally happy in the world. We have to cook reality and in the kitchen the flavor is indeducible with respect to the starting ingredients. Design is a melee with the unknown emerging to make your life unforgettable .

So what should design do to guide us towards this continuous reinvention?

The misunderstanding of contemporary design is that of wanting to design forms: in the 1960s it was known instead that the designer designs possible lives . So the point now is to understand what we want to do with our relationship with bodies, not with forms. Let's take gender issues for example: there is a lot of excitement, a desire for freedom. However, this is accompanied by a very strong, somewhat contradictory form of normativism. We should understand how to give bodies that kind of attention to things that can only be divine , not predetermined. The idea of ​​the bathroom, even the one dedicated to well-being, comes from prejudice. If, on the other hand, we relate to the body again as diviners, who knows what we might discover. It is useless to design the shape of the bathroom, useless to make pre-established decisions.

In his book he suggests a more conscious and autonomous use of the imagination. Why is it important?

If we don't imagine, we die. The problem is that for a thousand reasons we don't know what we want, we don't know what to want because the world has changed. But it is physiological. Before, getting information was complicated: we had to leave the house, ask others, search books.

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Widespread and immediately accessible knowledge is an immense transformation of the world. The problem is to reorient ourselves in these immense digital archives, which are larger than reality.

The house changed its role during the pandemic. What happened?

The pandemic has accelerated movements that were already underway. We were forced to live without a city and we realized that we had already built digital corridors that brought into the house much of what we did in public places. The house has expanded thanks to digital and is a very important element for a thousand reasons. First of all for the secular movement: it really seems the end of the city and, therefore, of modernity.

It says in the book that we should learn to exchange houses like clothes. In what terms?

The pandemic defines the end of the bourgeois home. The new home is emotional, based on friendship and affinity, rather than genealogical and patrimonial. These new houses are often digital, think of a Whatsapp chat which is already a sort of cohabitation even if not physical. spaces of cohabitation are being born in which a common form of life is invented linked to pleasure (not sex). In this sense, the present world is domestic, not a citizen: we don't need the city to do all this.

Intimacy as a place to be reached or built: how do you get there? And what can design do to help?

We are happy when we are crossed by the souls of others. We read, we look at works of art and films to make us cross. The act of eating is being crossed by food. Entering into a relationship with another body is again a crossing. All this is intimacy: being crossed . Design must take care of it even if it is a difficult, divinatory knowledge. It is not enough to transform things, we must transform ourselves. An alchemical operation that leads from unhappiness to happiness.

But what, after all, is happiness?

Do we really have to define it? It is a metamorphosis of oneself and of the world that allows you to feel better than before. But the content, the objective and the ingredients always change, otherwise it is no longer happiness. Cover photo by Gianluca Vassallo from the book-project VITE, by Foscarini (the entire publication can be downloaded here )