How a pot of paint can cause chaos…

In the last couple of weeks I decided to repaint my sitting room.  It has been the same colour for ages, and I felt an update was in order.  I am getting very drawn to orange at the moment, and as the room has a lot of light and high ceilings, I felt that it could take a dark tone and create a different feel to the existing colour.  This is the room as it was…

It was originally painted in Drab, a now discontinued Farrow & Ball paint.  I chose a strong orange by Valspar called Storybook Sundown to replace it.  I have orange elsewhere in the room in the rug, upholstery and cushions and this colour complimented them the best…

ab0698dc-ffec-4472-9a0a-2b438379b302.jpg

So with 5 litres I started to paint.  You  know that moment when you think ‘Hmm, not sure if I am liking this…?”, well it came pretty soon after the first coat.  I have been so used to the previous colour and this is so out of my comfort zone that I started to to think I had made a mistake.  But I decided to continue to see what would happen.

X9GmouHOQce56%D+ZJweSw

BUT… once it was done I loved it.  Really vibrant, rich and cocooning.

Now this is where the chaos started… when I say chaos I mean a nuclear chain of events starting from the initial one pot of paint.   My sofa now looked really insipid against all of the other bright colours.  The room needed something stronger/darker in colour/tone to work with these walls.  The current sofa is a Wesley Barrell Knole, and cost a huge amount when purchased.  It is quite tired now and has been an old faithful for over a decade, so I thought this would be the time to revamp it.  Investigations into re-upholstering it revealed it costs as much if not more to do as getting a new sofa.  The seat cushions alone cost £500 for new inserts, not to mention 15m of fabric and upholstery costs.

Egged on by my daughter we set out to find a new sofa.  On my wish list the main priority was NEVER HAVING TO EVER PLUMP ANOTHER CUSHION AGAIN.  This has been the bane of my life with sofas, and actually if I add the hours spent doing it I could have learnt a new language or trekked across a country instead.  So number one priority was a sprung seat and back sofa.

Research then ensued; size, shape, fabric, finish, durability… The internet is great for hunting, but I want to see them in the flesh too and sit on them to see if they are comfortable.  A bit like Goldilocks and her chairs – too firm, too soft or just right?  A sofa is a big expense as well, so once a shortlist had been made we set off in the car on a sofa bouncing mission.

Stop one was a high street store that had not been on my wish list, but was on the way to another shop.  As we mooched about I spotted the perfect sofa; sprung, buttoned and available in the fabric I wanted. It was in DFS, is called the Trafalgar and is a modern version of the chesterfield with buttoned seat and back, plus proper springing.  The shape is more angular than the traditional rounded chesterfield but that is why it looks so nice.

m7UZdVqxSsWR+vI4TBezvA

The detailing is lovely, with upholstery studs along the front:

u9mOTkgRQEaQIb+6FtCKRw

But this colour is too pale and I wanted a richer more textural fabric.  And voila, in their books I found:

160Xr9AySo2aLs+Gh9tLMg

The perfect velvet; not shiny like a lot of modern versions but lustrous and deepest black.  And so reader, I ordered one.. and it comes in about 6 weeks to reface the old faithful Knole sofa (which incidentally is going to a very good home where it will be loved  for many more years).

So that was Chaos Element No 1.  This pot of paint has now cost me a new sofa.. but it doesn’t end there.  I like the idea of adding in more black to define the room, so black lampshades have now been ordered for the lamps around the room in black, and passementerie trimmings have been ordered to jazz them up.  That’s Chaos Element No 2.

On top of that I have now started hunting for new curtains to add more drama and tie up the room visually as the current ones are lovely, but look quite pale now compared to the other colours going on in the room, and that’s a 10ft tall bay window to negotiate as a starter.  Not something you can use readymades on easily… so let’s call that Chaos Element No 3.  I’m thinking watered black silk puddling on the floor would be a bit special…

With that I will sign off, as I need to plan how to create these curtains on a budget, but so they don’t look it.  All this from just one pot of paint…

 

 

Exhibition – Unconcious Landscapes

This week I visited Hauser & Wirth in Bruton to see an exhibition of female artists, with works shown from the private collection of Ursula Hauser.  She has collected these over the past thirty years and they range from artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, Maria Lassnig, Meret Oppenheim and Roni Horn.   The exhibition celebrates female artists, often overlooked in contemporary art in the past.  For a detailed review of the exhibition, Rachel Campbell‑Johnston has written a great review in The Times.

I was so excited to see Meret Oppenheim’s work in the flesh.  These gloves are wonderful, and a prime example of her surrealist art.  The painting was a surprise as I had always associated her with 3D and sculptural pieces,

From paintings to sculptures, the works create different moods and reactions.  There was a lot of work by Louise Bourgeois, and I am not personally a fan of the spiders due to my own arachnophobia, but I suppose a visceral reaction is a key element to the pieces.  She also made these long legs below which I loved, they conjured up ideas of giants, myths and fairy tales.

A lot of the work was very textural, and these pieces by Sheila Hicks we’re probably my favourite in the exhibition.  The textures and colours are beautiful:

The other element at Hauser & Wirth which is wonderful to see is the garden, designed by Piet Oudolf, with the serpentine pavilion by Radic as a permanent installation.  I had not seen the gardens before at this time of year, and they were in full bloom.  The planting is in drifts of tall perennials which float in the wind, very worth visiting.

In the Roth Bar & Grill, (a welcome part of the site, delicious food…), they have the original design of the garden.  It is interesting to see the initial sketch to the final result.

4C313A00-94A9-41EF-994B-02FA561F5B3E

So for anyone in that part of the world, it is definitely worth a visit.  The exhibition runs until September the 8th.

Finally… The Bathroom is now finished.

During a very hot week 3 of us were crammed into the very small bathroom as it was refurbished. My plumbers valiantly ripped out and refitted, and I hovered a lot and worked in the evenings on redecorating it.

Here are the finished pictures.. much fresher, no more leaks and hopefully it will stand up to a few years of use well..

New W.C., wall tiles, boxed in plumbing, flooring, lights, taps, mirrored cabinet and sink cabinet:

The scratched and stained bath and shower curtain were replaced with a new steel bath and clear pivoting glass screen:

The walls got fresh bathroom paint and new flooring was laid:

My daughter can change accent colours with towels and accessories. This lovely vintage window pane came from The Beehive in Devizes:

The sink, cupboard and taps came from Victorian Plumbing and add useful storage with mixer taps with ceramic discs on lever handles. These are chrome with ebony levers. The simple large rectangular tiles have dark grey grout that won’t discolour with age, and are a welcome change from the bevelled metro tiles which are currently in most bathrooms.

This wire storage unit fits neatly in a corner and adds some more storage in the room and a little bit of an industrial vibe.

I am really pleased with how it came out, especially given the tiny size of the room. There was no way if reconfiguring the layout, which did save money as I did not have to move services, but I had to measure everything over and over to make sure it would fit as well as create much needed storage.

This was what I would call a low budget bathroom, as I sourced fixtures and fittings from suppliers direct, which saved a large amount of money than if I had bought from high street stores. Plus I did all of the decorating and flooring. But I think it looks far more expensive than it actually cost, so I am very pleased as a result… 🙌

Bathroom Revamp Planning

My daughter lives in a flat in London, and recently informed me that the bath tap had died a sorry death.  So it’s my job to fix it as the landlady.  The current fixture and fittings are a bit worse for wear, with inherited items like a cracked sink, warped bath panel, a wobbly lit mirror and a hair dye splattered bath.  To fix the bath tap meant pulling out the bath panel as well as a lot of joinery, so it made more sense to just rip out the whole lot and start again with a fresh new set of fittings.  When she moved into the flat we gave the room a lick of paint as seen below, but it really needs a whole new lotta loving…

The room is very small, with no daylight, but good ventilation installed already.  There is an extruding section of wall along one side, which hiders the ventilation and electrics, and at the base of this wall is also the run of pipes which are boxed in.  The room size is 2.2 x 1.6 m, so there are no real changes of layout possible, and I do not want to start moving plumbing and soil stacks as it is a) costly and b) does not offer me another choice of layout.

We did think about replacing the bath with a large shower, but I think this can be off-putting for resale.  So we have kept the layout, and will just have much nicer fixtures and fittings to revamp.  I have found a builder who comes highly rated, and am planning to work to the following style; clean lines, quite retro, much needed storage, a grey/white/black palette and better lighting.  The current sink has separate taps with scorching hot water, so a mixer tap will be used to stop scalding.

Tiles will be sized 600×300 simple glazed white, with grey grouting and set full height around the bath,  a mouldy shower curtain will be replaced with a fixed glass shower screen and we will introduce more oomph with dark walls as the lighting will be much better after the revamp.  Colour can be introduced with accessories, and I think it will be a lovely room when finished… small but perfectly formed.

Updates will come as it progresses… Fingers crossed it all goes well…🤞

Clerkenwell Design Week

This past week has been the industry hotbed that is Clerkenwell Design Week.  I spent a day perusing the offerings, and some of these products caught my eye:

LIGHTING:

The lighting show was held in Fabric nightclub, which meant that they could be displayed brilliantly.  There were a lot of ‘repeat’ concrete shades around, but a few designs stood out:

 

This beautiful light by Lomas Furniture has a shade of pierced ceramic and looks like the moon…

More lighting which caught my eye came from Pad Home.  This was totally organic in shape, made from cardboard and reminded me of large wasps nests (in a beautiful way)…

IMG_3401

CERAMICS:

I found some gorgeous surface textures at Solus, some were slate with what looked like lasered patterns on them:

 

They also had gorgeous 3D hexagonal tiles, and can supply simple ones in a huge range of colours.

A95A11FD-7E97-44E0-8632-1F6471032E26IMG_3382

BATHROOMS:

The highlight of my visit was finding this sink, however the price tag is eye watering .. it is the Brockway by KOHLER.

sb3618-3600

It comes as 1/2 or 3 tap sizes, and reminds me of a cattle trough.  Prices in the UK where I can find it are £2K plus, so maybe not for now… I am devastated!  Maybe I can convert a real cattle trough instead?

 

IMG_3385

I also saw this beautiful building in Clerkenwell, it looks like Fred Flintstone built it with rough hewn stone frontage in areas.  Absolutely smitten!

Design Trip – Denmark

I recently returned from a design trip to Copenhagen, where the Interior Design department visited many museums, galleries and buildings to develop our practice.  What I noticed on the trip was how I have started to question design in relation to my visual cultural studies since starting the academic year.

In relation to areas in which my practice is specifically connected, I found that there is a real hierarchy of design ‘owners’, in that a small number of people have classed items as being of importance, and to that end the rest must follow suit in agreeing and accepting those definitions.  In terms of design history that makes absolute sense, eg: The Bauhaus changed ornamentation into form follows function and delineated all items, and given the age in which it happened it connects to social and economic change.   I do love modern architecture, especially Brutalism and post modernist hard lines, as it visually inspires me, but every item has a subjective reaction.
Continue reading “Design Trip – Denmark”

A Year of Learning…

So being a busy-bee student has definitely been a real adventure this academic year… but what a blast and I love every minute of it.

Next week I get my final crit from Tutors for my latest project.  I have been charged to design a Pavilion (full on Architecture style, from fixings to weights to construction), a bar to go in it, and do it all within a Grade I* listed site so absolutely no touching of the fabric of the building etc.  I am finding that I have a bit of Brutalist slant to my work, which is very surprising given the chaotic clutter which I live in (and love)…

I realised I have not posted any work on here since I started back at Uni, so here’s a few bits and bobs I have done this year to prove why I have had no social life, sleep or spare time to post much… 🙂

Semester 1:  Theatre Design & Product Design

Here I started out learning about Orthographics and site surveys.  Basically if you do this type of drawing by hand, JUST as you reach the end of a drawing your hand slips and you have to either scalpel off the ink, or more usually START AGAIN…Gah!  My tutor also is an architect, and knows if I am on a 0.01 or 0.1 pen so you can’t make any mistakes as he’ll know.

PORTFOLIO MASTER COPY 4 UPLOAD copy7

I started to learn how to make scale models.  This is something I love doing, and think I am like Gulliver but maybe with more fumbly fingers and a tendency to superglue myself to small things…PORTFOLIO MASTER COPY 4 UPLOAD copy8

My next challenge was to design a theatre installation inside a beautiful Medieval Hall showing an excerpt of a scene from Macbeth.  This is where the brutalist streak started coming through I think… why try and complete with 600 year old carvings, go the opposite way….!  I also made films as part of the design as that is something I used to do in the past for a living, and this design had no budget attached so I went all out for it…

PORTFOLIO MASTER COPY 4 UPLOAD copy11PORTFOLIO MASTER COPY 4 UPLOAD copy12PORTFOLIO MASTER COPY 4 UPLOAD copy13PORTFOLIO MASTER COPY 4 UPLOAD copy14

The next project was to design a piece of modular furniture to be used in a travelling exhibition planned for the first ‘Martian House’.  This will be a pod designed a bit like the Antarctic science stations for prolonged living on the red plant in 2030.  I was asked to focus on wellbeing and health, so came up with a multipurpose item that becomes  amongst other things gym parts with added games to spice up what will be probably be a very dull life on Mars…

PORTFOLIO MASTER COPY 4 UPLOAD copy16PORTFOLIO MASTER COPY 4 UPLOAD copy17PORTFOLIO MASTER COPY 4 UPLOAD copy18PORTFOLIO MASTER COPY 4 UPLOAD copy19

Semester 2/3:  Staircase / Pavilion & Bar Design

I had to present a project on the design of a staircase by a notable architect, (right down to delivering a correctly scaled model).  I was given one by the architect Santiago Calatrava, one with NO KNOWN MEASUREMENTS ANYWHERE, which resulted in me travelling to Basel in Switzerland tape measure in hand.  But I measured the thing and managed to build the model to scale.

Capture One Session0076Capture One Session0047

Below is my last project this year, and I will know if I have been slayed by the end of June (gulp)….  I have worked myself to the bone in this one, and cannot even begin to count the hours/days/weeks/months it has taken…

blog

blog2

What have I learnt?

Less is More and document everything!  I have to justify and be accountable for every minute detail, right down to fixings and screws.  I have also had to learn a huge amount of new digital skills as presentation boards are so vital; Photoshop, Rhino, Sketchup, Illustrator, Lightworks, CAD and so on.  My iCloud storage is huge already as a result and I have over 11,000 photos on my phone….

I have also learnt brilliant practical skills; steam bending, digital fabric printing, woodwork, welding, plasma metal cutting, textiles, ceramics, 3D printing, laser cutting, fabric manipulation, resin and jesmonite techniques, and more.  I have learnt the (new) ways of digital studio shooting in photography, (I am so vintage that I did my first degree in photography on film, and digital did not even exist!).  The fabrication facilities are amazing at my University and the technical staff are brilliant, I am making them a huge cake next week to thank them for teaching me so much already.

On top of all of the practical I also had to deliver a critical blog and essays.   Now I know why Uni students have/need such long summer holidays, I am frazzled but still raring to go for September this year although I think the pressure will be on even more….

Adios for now

Emma

10 Practitioners I love…

This is a piece I had to write for mu Uni blog… I think it’s interesting to really look at how you are inspired by previous designers…

Imagine you are going to curate an exhibition on the history of your discipline. Compile a list of 10 practitioners (or specific pieces of work) that you would include and write brief notes on why:

Interior Design has some key practitioners over time, and here’s my top 10 of who I would include:

THOMAS CHIPPENDALE
Furniture designer  (1718 – 1779)

​Not just a cabinet maker, but also an interior designer, and the creator of one of the first ‘catalogues’ of furniture for buyers from all markets and walks of life.  This catalogue defined ‘good taste’, meaning the buyer feel that they were able to participate in upwardly mobile and socially acceptable ‘tasteful’ behaviour if they had the money to buy the furniture.  A wealthy working class businessman could buy the same piece of furniture that an aristocrat owned, creating feelings of upward mobility.  This meritocratic business acumen by Chippendale made him incredibly successful, and is an early example of inspired mass marketing.
two-book-cases-from-chippendale-s-director_orig

CHAIR NO. 14 – THE VIENNA CAFE CHAIR 1859
Michael Thonet (1796-1871)

This chair can be seen as the first ever flat pack piece of furniture design, and is still in production today.  Thonet pioneered new techniques of laminating wood to create mass produced furniture for the first time ever, and created designs that could be shipped in pieces and assembled onsite.  Like Chippendale he created catalogues for customers, so that pieces could be ordered from anywhere in the world.  These could then be shipped cheaply in large quantities as they took up less space when in flat packs, and he even owned his own transportation services.  Chair No 14 is one of those pieces of design which everyone recognises, creates historical connotations and reflects the importance of industrial mass production.

no-14-chair-from-thonet-1890s-2-1_orig

LAURA ASHLEY
Fashion & Home Designer (1925-1985)

A Welsh fashion designer and businesswoman. She originally made furnishing materials in the 1950s, expanding the business into clothing design and manufacture in the 1960s. The Laura Ashley style is characterised by Romantic English designs — often with a 19th-century rural feel — and the use of natural fabrics.  Although not to everyone’s taste, her designs, like Chippendale’s, transversed social class boundaries due to their relatively low prices and popular styles, and anyone of any class could become the owner of the rural English idyll.

gallery-1432840087-img-5637_orig

DAVID HICKS
Interior Designer & Curator (1929-1998)

David Nightingale Hicks was an English interior decorator and designer, noted for using bold colours, mixing antique and modern furnishings, and contemporary art for his famous and wealthy clientele.  His extremely strong use of colour palettes and patterns is still seen as inspirational to the designers of today, to the point that some of the colours he ‘evolved’ and used are still named after him.  I am including Hicks in this list specifically for his use of bold swathes of colour, which become almost abstract in their intensity.

david-hicks_orig methode-times-prodmigration-web-bin-ac234c8f-7349-3761-9a2b-54b7e3cc16dc_orig

ROLF ENGSTRÖMER
Architect, Designer, Interior Designer (1892-1970)

Rolf Engströmer, was a Swedish architect, interior designer and furniture designer, and a representative of Swedish grace, the Swedish interpretation of the Art Deco style.  His entrance hall at Eltham Palace is a masterclass in Art Deco linear design, with every detail and piece of furniture made for the room in 1933.  His work embraced the new modernist approach to design.  His work is important to me in that it signifies a historical change in direction in Interior Design both with an aesthetic and architectural focus, and you can relate it to development of artists in other fields at the time.


SIR EDWIN LANDSEER LUTYENS
Architect & Interior Designer (1869-1944)

Lutyens was an English architect known for imaginatively adapting traditional architectural styles to the requirements of his era. He designed many English country houses, war memorials and public buildings.  He would also design furniture to fill his house designs to complete his vision, and promoted the arts and crafts movement with the most natural and raw state of materials exposed and celebrated.  He could be seen as the ‘mash-up’ architect in that he would mix architectural styles as he felt fit, and so created a postmodernist, non-judgmental approach to architecture at the time.  For this reason, he is in my list.
557784-jpg_orig

ANNIE SLOAN
Decorative Artist & Designer (b1949)

Annie Sloan is a British artist, colour expert and author. After studying Fine Art at university in the 1970s, Annie Sloan went on to write several books on traditional paints and decorative painting techniques, starting with The Complete Book of Decorative Paint Techniques in 1988. She developed her own line of decorative paint “Chalk Paint” in 1990.  From this she developed the ‘shabby chic’ look which has been prevalent for the last 20 years in home decor.  Some may curse her for it, but the mass appeal of the style shows how people buy into a look and follow it slavishly.  As a result it has been copied worldwide by manufacturers which shows the cultural significance of her work.  The actual recipe of her paints is an age old tradition harking back to distemper and lime paint which has become very limited in use, yet she has resurrected it hence inclusion on this list.

​CECIL BEATON
Photographer, set designer, interior designer (1904-1980)

Beaton was a multi talented designer across several disciplines, who created theatrical interior spaces.  His use of clashing colours and patterns show a return to colour after the austerity of the second world war, and he used to introduce ‘the vulgar’ into the traditional, sort of like the punk rocker of interiors at the time.  His clientele tended to be the aristocratic and the famous, who let him run riot in their homes.  His theatre, ballet and opera sets are inspirational, and still used today by The Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera House in productions.

8-nocrop-w710-h2147483647_orig

THE DANISH -HYGGE  (Collectively)
Late 20th century onwards.

Hygge (/ˈhjuːɡə/ HEW-gə or /ˈhuːɡə/ HOO-gə) is a Danish word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment. This covers an entire  interior movement of white interiors, sheepskins, natural materials and pared back interiors.   There is no one designer associated with this style, but given it’s enduring popularity I think it is worth including.  Like Shabby Chic, it appeals to the masses in that it is easy to achieve and promotes an appearance of ‘good taste’ and ‘style knowledge’ but is relatively easy to replicate and purchase off the shelf. 


THE LOUIS GHOST CHAIR
Phillipe Stark, Designer (b1949)

This chair takes a subversive action, from mimicking a royal chair made for Louis XVI, and subverting it into modern day use.  It has sleek lines, can be stacked 6 high and is mass produced,  and takes the essence of the original into a postmodernist form.  As Starck himself said, the chair “has a mix of materials and styles based on our shared memories. We all own this piece in a way.”  This chair to me is rock’n’roll, and so included in the list.

louis-ghost-chair-philippe-starck-kartell-4

Long time no write…

Since my last very long time ago post, I bit the bullet and enrolled back at university to study Interior Design with a slant on architectural spatial design.

Since September it has been a whirlwind of learning, late nights (working, not partying) and me banging my head on the desk as I start to learn 3D design programs such as CAD and SketchUp.  However, I am LOVING it, even if I am frazzled and sleep deprived…  So far I have designed spatial installation art pieces, a theatre set, a piece of modular furniture, designs for the BRI hospital in Bristol for staff rooms, and am currently working on a Pavilion design with a bar for an English Heritage site.  I have learnt to weld and cut metal, 3D and laser print items, woodwork in various forms, digital fabric printing, architectural orthographic drawings, a plethora of design packages for the computer (yes, adobe creative suite I love you), model making and loads more.  Oh and I forgot to add concrete, clay and resin modelling as well….  I still have a lot more to learn, but am enjoying the journey as well as still holding down a part time job, running a house and being a mum.  Women out there, we are the mothers of all multitasking….!

I have to run a blog as part of the course, more analytical than design based, so I’ll post over onto this site if anything is relevant to it.  Plus of course anymore DIY tutorials, I’ll posy a prepping for laser cutting one as it’s a genius machine and can cut and engrave anything from fabric to leather to acrylic.  I have my summer break soon so I can add things more frequently.

Until then….