Design Life

architectural design, architecture, Interior Design, working

Some musings as I navigate the design world, suffer the post pandemic lack of wood (!) and continue my design adventures

I am already working on hospitality designs in the tourism sector, and designing holiday homes for Urban Blossom who are a luxury brand and deliver quite different buildings to the norm. This has been a long journey but very rewarding. I had free rein to design, and they are alll based on natural shapes. In terms of construction, they are very challenging and I am sure I have had people cursing me secretly when I deliver the designs for fabrication. But hey, what else is a structural engineer for!!! Given that I am not an architect but have trained as an Interior Designer, they have been a steep learning curve, and I have a wonderful technical team who can realise the designs practically.

One of my first designs I created for them is being built in the Lake District as I type, and is is surreal to see something initially doodled on paper turning into a real-life (and actually quite huge) building. This shape was based on a dried seed head I found, and from there it became an octagonal two storey building encased in an exo-skelton of curving struts.

‘The Bud’ Concept Design

The client wanted this external shape of The Bud, but with footprint of another Urban Blossom building I designed which is larger. So they will have an additional roof terrace area on the top. This structure is going to be placed adjacent to a huge natural swimming pool/lake, so you can exit the building onto a jetty and jump straight into the water. I am so excited to see it all when it ifs finally completed, but for now it is a building site.

Here are the construction crew at work as it starts.

It is mainly made from extruded structural recycled glass which is carbon positive, fireproof, lightweight and recyclable. This new materials had to go through structural testing and accreditation as a building material for use, so it is very exciting to be able to use it and is a forward-thinking material for future builds. All of that glass that people recycle religiously tends to actually end up in landfill, so this material takes it and repurposes it for a much better use.

In addition I am designing some lodges for a hospitality group to be sited in Yorkshire, construction starts this year. These adhere to Caravan Act parameters so they are modular, built offsite in sections, a set width and can be sat on a chassis (which you can hide in a pit or cover with surrounding decking). I wanted to get far away from the whole aesthetic of what people expect from a caravan. No plastic exterior/interiors, and using beautiful architectural materials such as seam wrapped aluminium and natural wood. These designs should change perceptions of holiday living and caravans. Here is a concept sketch.

Hospitality design is definitely my main passion. I have also been speaking to some of the most respectable and creative Design Studios who concentrate more on the hotels/restaurant sector for potential work. However, I am a bit of an anomaly I think as I am not the typical recent grad for a Junior Designer, but I don’t have years of experience in a studio setting to make me Middleweight Level. So I am getting a lot of ‘you will get bored & leave’ and ‘we are not sure where you will fit’ comments, which is definitely not true as there is always more to learn and absorb. The idea of growing within an existing studio is very attractive, as that spin-off from other designers and architects is something which I think really helps the design process. At the moment it is just me in my little studio on my lonesome, which can be very quiet!

More pictures to come on the build as it happens. Meanwhile I think those workers need some sunscreen delivered as it was boiling hot this week and they have no shade..

Final Major Project Underway

architectural design, architecture, Art, Interior Design, university

I am now in my third year at Uni, (time has flown by so fast, I cannot quite believe it), and I am now working on my FMP. The site I chose to design is the Arnolfini mixed use building in Bristol, and I am re-imagining it as a new Art Gallery, using all of the space and reconfiguring the internal floors and roof areas.

This has been a really intense project so far, the scale of the building is vast and there are so many elements to consider. I made a sort of shopping list to remind myself of what I need to do / add/ remove and it grows daily as I work through the project.

My inspiration for the design comes from several areas; the building is set on the edge of the floating harbour and I loved the reflections of it in the water. From these I have designed panels and balustrading to use in the site.

The stonework on the building is beautiful, they have what is called vermicular rustication on the stone and I love the way the light plays on it. Taking negative shadows from the stone I have cast light through them. These also influenced the balustrading patterns.

The building was built originally to store tea in the booming trade in the 1830’s and which was expected to be stored in Bristol, but by the time it was completed, the tea trade had moved to London. Known as Bush House, the site became an iron foundry and then a bonded warehouse. Research into this trade has given me lots of ideas, especially using the pattern of shipping lines used for the original intention of Bush House.

Tea Trade Route Lines

These lines will be manipulated into design ideas within the site.

I have had some great finds in my research, done a poll with local residents and had interviews with curator/gallery head experts like Sir Nicholas Serota, Sir Nicholas Penny & Patrick Elliot who have helped me realise what is needed in such a large gallery to make it successful. I will post more as I go…

Hospitality Design

Decorating

Over the past several months I have been designing holiday accommodation aimed at the luxury end of the market – far beyond glamping, these buildings are intended for those who want the very best on their getaway breaks. They are about to go into production, and I am so excited to be able to share them here.

HOW?

I sort of fell into this whole scenario by accident. Initially I was asked to design the interiors by the development and manufacturing companies involved, but I ended up designing the entire buildings as they liked my ideas and encouraged me to do them. I also agreed initially to work on them as they are made from carbon neutral materials – using amazing new technology and products to recycle and reuse materials. I am passionate about sustainable design, and so this really piqued my interest. I was also challenged to create a design that would be fabricated off-site, and then shipped in to construct so as to avoid as much disruption to the landowners as possible. They can be totally off-grid; water, power and waste can all be managed in a sustainable way as well. What’s not to love?!

Once the designs are done, a structural engineer and the manufacturing company take over to make sure they are fit for purpose and fulfilling all building regulations. Although I am a designer, I am not a qualified architect so these measures are 100% necessary. We have an amazing alternative to standard foundations, these buildings sit on what basically look like huge screws. These are embedded in the ground, and can go near tree roots, on uneven ground, into a lake bed and so on.

THE DESIGNS

I designed 3 different houses based on natural shapes – The Seed, The Poppy & The Bud. They comprise of an octagonal inner house wrapped in an external skeleton of curved, linear struts which embrace the inner house. The sizes and configurations vary, offering choice to the customer in terms of scale, site and cost. They are raised above the ground to elevate the views, two have roof terraces, and the other had an internal balcony so that you can be above the canopy to take full advantage of the views and location.

THE DETAIL

We also commissioned some fly-through videos to show how the designs look in place, although I had built them in 3D I needed some superior rendering and animation skills to really bring them to life – they look amazing.

With the whole Covid scenario, the desire for holidays in the UK has really changed, and these are perfect for staycations when set in beautiful landscapes and woodlands. The company has had amazing feedback for them, and orders are coming in. I have to pinch myself occasionally from what started as a doodle in a meeting (below) to the realisation of the final product.

The starting point….

Dom-Ino House Project

architectural design, architecture, Interior Design, interiors, site survey

 

wide with antique backgroundThis brief was to design a second home for the installation artist Olafur Eliasson.  The site is situated at the top of a tranquil gully in the Avon Gorge with a steep drop off, and amazing views down to the River Avon.  Having lived in and around Bristol for many years, I had no idea that this secret place existed, and took the theme of secrecy as a key inspiration for the project.  The house architecturally is based on Le Corbusier’s Dom-Ino house structure – slab walls, pilotis columns and a staircase.  This allows for multiple choices as to where walls and windows can be placed.

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My client is known for his works with light, colour and creating new perceptions of views, so this was all considered in the design of the home.  I wanted to create a space for him that is a live/work studio, with distinctive private and public spaces.  Eliasson is half Icelandic, so this is referenced as well in the use of turf on the roof of the house – a nod to the ancient Icelandic buried hill houses.

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The design embeds the house into the cliff, so that from the northern approach you do not even know there is a house there.  It is only when you are standing on top of the roof that you realise there is a staircase descending into the house.  There is a 1m meter space around the house within the carved out space in the cliff,  so it lets light fall from pierced walkways above and feed natural light into the house.

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My client is passionate about ecology and sustainability, so external building materials used in the house include rammed earth walls, hempcrete, recycled glass and turf.  Then structure is concrete, but uses the most ecologically available mixture made from 70% recycled slag furnace waste.

The entrance into the house is by moving down the stairwell, these have a pierced wall system designed to create spots of light in the sunshine which move across the space as the sun moves overhead.  Mirrored stainless steel walls create strong reflections and further bounce light through the stairwell.

STAIRS and woman

The studio space is on the first floor and is open plan, with a kitchen area concealed behind sliding doors.  A ceiling grid allows for maquettes to be hung up out of the way.  The furniture is all on castors so the room can be reconfigured as an office / studio / dining room /exhibition space.  An oculus window was designed to distort the view looking in and out into the gully.  Along the mainly glazed south facing wall are a system of internal glass sliding panels in colours which can be moved to create new perspectives and views of the valley beyond.

Studio Visualisation

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The floor below is a personal space for my client where he can relax and sleep.  A large balcony creates an exterior entertaining space with a system of textural glass screens.  The interior is a neutral and calm space with natural textures.  A fireplace pierces the wall so it can be accessed both inside and outside.

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The final level is a secret place that only my client can access. An internal jib door is concealed behind a bookcase, and opens to reveal stairs leading to a sub level.  This is open air, but protected from wind and rain by the house above it.  Pilotis were raised to 2m to create this space.  Here my client has an outdoor kitchen, decks, a dance floor (he was the Swedish champion in breakdancing for 2 years running!), and a luxurious wood fired Swedish hot tub so he can use it all year round and enjoy the views.

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Finished Model-ALL PLANS

This project entailed the learning of CAD for the first time, and material testing with fabrication of glass, concrete, hempcrete and rammed earth samples.

 

 

Finally… The Bathroom is now finished.

Decorating, home decor, Interior Design, interiors, Makeover

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… 🙌

Clerkenwell Design Week

Decorating, Exhibitions, Experiences, Interior Design, interiors, lighting, Soft furnishings

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)…

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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.

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BATHROOMS:

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

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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?

 

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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

Art, furniture, Ideas, Inspiration, Interior Design, travel

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.

A Year of Learning…

Interior Design, interiors, Musings, Ramblings, university

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.

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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…

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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…

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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.

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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…

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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

Object of Desire – Bespoke Wallpaper

Decorating, Interior Design, interiors, wallpaper

This week’s obsession is not the Royal Wedding for me, but the amazing new wallpapers which I keep seeing everywhere as new designers embrace the digital printing possibilities that are now available.  It seems that interior trends are embracing large scale and bright patterns, and while they may not be for everyone’s taste I love the boldness they offer.

The original bespoke wallpaper in Europe from makers such as de Gournay are exquisite and I have always lusted after a bespoke wall covering.  But they are not cheap, and there’s a part of me that just cannot justify the expense.  But just look at the beauty of them:

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Recently, due to my somewhat obsessive scouring of Instagram and Pinterest, I came across a designer team in New Zealand called Back To The Wall.  These designers do huge digitally printed murals in gorgeous designs, and while they may not have the hand finished painterly effect of a de Gournay, they are still pretty spectacular.

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In the UK, another digital mural company well worth looking at is Surface View.  They have a huge collection of images available to be printed up as large scale murals.  Their botanical and historical prints are pretty amazing and you can go as wild or as tame as you like in terms of design.  But all are large scale for a great feature wall.

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Another favourite who I love is House of Hackney.  They print beautiful designs which are quite intense, sometimes quirky and also designed as a set of 3 panels which can  repeat around a room if desired.

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I used their design Florida Onyx in my renovation of a townhouse as panels on wardrobes and it was stunning.  Who knows, one day I may be brave enough to do a whole room?!

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Dream Living Room Plans

Decorating, Ideas, Inspiration

I have been looking at a fabulous website called Arhaus who are based in the USA, and am seriously wishing they would open a shop in the UK, (hint, hint….).  Their collections are really beautiful, very classic, and I would snap up a lot of their items, especially the furniture, in a flash to use in interiors.

I have based the room around artwork by Fin DAC, who produces huge scale street mural artwork around the globe.  I love this image, and used it as the inspiration for the room.  It would look amazing as a huge piece on one wall, and he sells via online galleries so I am after one now… although I may have to save up a bit….

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Having recently completed a grey, black and orange dining room, I am still slightly obsessed with these colours and was immediately drawn to the sofa and daybed in the Clancy range, they are both traditional with the buttoning but have lovely sleek modern lines as well.  Plus, (and this is key for me), I really hate plumping up base cushions of sofas, so this is a dream design for me!

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