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..

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….

Heals – A rather fabulous shop

accessories, Decorating, Shopping, styling

I was in London yesterday, whiling away the time whilst my eldest daughter was singing in a concert.  Heading to the Tottenham Court Road, I visited Heals, a fantastic furniture emporium which I have not been to for at least a decade.  A lifetime ago when I lived in London and was furnishing my first apartment,, it was THE place to get your cool, edgy statement pieces.  Happily, it is still just as cutting edge in design as I remember.

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The first thing I saw on entering was Abigail Ahern‘s flower shop.  These are the most realistic blooms and plants I have even seen.  The cactus’ especially intrigued my youngest daughter who was with me.  She could not believe they were not real and kept stroking them, with no spines and spikes to hurt her little hands.

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You can order these on-line if you cannot get to London from her on-line shop, and I guarantee they are worth getting.  They are amazing, and you would probably end up watering them by mistake.

We then headed into the shop where I was assailed by the most beautiful lights, they are like huge teardrops in hand blown glass.

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There are well priced selection of wall lights.

IMG_2320IMG_2321Then on to the scented candles to smell some delicious scents, and where the Tom Dixon candles are sublime, if not unbelievably pricey.543205Every item is chosen carefully to represent the best in design in Heals.  This new cinema chair is very sweet too…

chair heals cinema

And I feel that the Pinner bed would look great in my spare room.  Like a modernist colonial upgrade.

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This is tableware called ‘Ink’.  Each blue and white motif evokes classic Delftware porcelain and 1950s Midwinter ceramics.

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I recommend a visit to anyone who loves interiors when in London.  And if not, the website is well designed and ships internationally.  A final swoon over Abigail Ahern flowers designed into a huge hanging beast of beauty….

 

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