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Seven Learnings to Abide by in the Interior Design Sector

Seeing beauty, identifying key elements that become part of the design story.
 
Seven Learnings to Abide by in the Interior Design Sector

Image credit: graphicstock

 
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There are certain attributes of a profession and one has to catch hold of them in order to work efficiently and grow in that business.I share my experience as an interior designer, a profession of great esthetic value and charm.

1- The Art of Listening 

I start my work by listening. Interior design is about expressing ideas in a visual and experiential way. At the beginning, before any proposal or suggestion, I firstly listen carefully to find out what the client’s vision is. Sometimes, it is not clearly defined, but through discussion and getting to know a little more about them, their way of life, it is easier to craft a framework for a narrative. 

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Listening is also about having all our senses open and being receptive to inspiration around us.

Recently I was on the Adriatic Riviera, for a hotel renovation that is on the water. While walking with the client to get a feel for the upcoming project, I paused and listened to the sounds of the gentle waves against the rocks. It was the lulling, dreamy and calming sound of the sea, that I have taken with me as a memory to recreate on the mood board. 

2- The Ability to Observe

Next step is looking, seeing beauty, identifying key elements that become part of the design story. The world around us is rich with examples of good design, showcases of craftsmanship, and moments of exquisite inspiration. Extracting details and inspiration from our surroundings, like choosing an antique piece and updating it for a contemporary use is something I find as the most enjoyable part of the interior design process.

3- The Interface with Architecture

A sense of place and respect for the architectural envelope is a pillar of interior design.  Interior design embraces location, and should be a natural progression of the architecture it is set within. The best projects I have worked on are the ones where interior design and architecture have overlapped seamlessly, from floor transition to harmonious material palettes, all the way to a great result, where people don’t talk about it as a space but more like an experience that has left a memory. 

4- Functionality

I am a believer of ‘If it doesn’t work, don’t do it’. Function comes before form, so for an interior design that stands the test of time, it should have purpose. …to paraphrase Adolf Loos’s ‘ornament is crime’ thesis on design, I believe that beauty for the sake of superficial decoration is harmful and waters down a strong concept.

5- A Question of Scale

Studying scale and seeking the right proportions is fundamental to interior design. Grandeur, luxury, intimacy are abstract notions that take form by how we apply scale or with which materials we choose to work with.  High ceilings give a sense of space and airiness to a room.  Human scale is important to make us feel comfortable and cosy. Large floorboards from mature oak trees, where you can ‘read’ grain are more luxurious than thin strips of wood on a floor for example. A wall of large bookmatched slabs of a veiny stone is always more grand than regular tiles. The choices we make, when it comes to scale, are imperative for the end result.

6-Balance and Contrast 

 A sense of balance and harmony is my ultimate quest when designing a space. I use layering to achieve balance and harmony. The could be  a ‘tone on tone’ scheme with one accent strong colour or a material palette that combines smooth , polished textures with more natural, stripped down surfaces.

Natural materials are always best and at the top of my preferences list. Knowing the properties of each material is essential. Wool is naturally fire retardant, a very important property for commercial spaces. Silk breathes and is cool in the summer as well as warm in winter. Colour may fade however if used in a room with direct sunlight. Ceramics are so versatile. I personally love the relief ceramic tiles, and like using them in unexpected ways, like on table tops in a restaurant or to add  ‘ movement’ and interest on the front of a cocktail bar counter. Contrast adds drama. Playing with light and dark adds interest. Sometimes it is about creating a sequence and transition from a dark space to a lighter one.  

7-Maximising Potential

You can apply this rule in many things in life. In interior design it means making the most of what you have. Planning a bathroom to be as efficient as possible, or creating flexibility in a hotel lobby to be used by different people in many ways. In small bedrooms, using a writing table by the bed, means a bedside surface doubles up as a desk, bringing down the number of furniture in the room and making it feel spacious without compromising function. If there is a window with great views, it is about choosing to have a comfortable armchair there and creating a ‘relaxation’ moment. The art of interior design combines knowledge from different fields, the ability to discover opportunities and convert a given space into a truly memorable experience. Ultimately, interior design is a step towards creating a better world, starting from our surroundings.

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A New York Pied-à-Terre by STADT Architecture Offers Respite From the Urban Environment

Leafy parks and thoughtful interiors offer respite within urban environments. For a New York pied-à-terre by STADT Architecture, the design combined both for a true break from the city. The client asked to evoke the lush landscape of southwestern Canada. In response, STADT developed a photograph of Vancouver’s largest park into a custom hand-painted wall covering that dominates the bedroom. Gold leaf mixes with saturated green tones on the headboard wall and ceiling. For this unique touch, STADT principal Christopher Kitterman looked to 16th-century canopy beds for inspiration.

The custom wall covering in the bedroom was a collaboration with Calico Wallpaper. Photography by David Mitchell.

The couple saw eye to eye on the layout changes and material palette but had different wishes for furnishings. “One wanted to furnish the space with all new furniture while the other was interested in searching for one of a kind pieces,” Kitterman says. The result is a mix that shows compromise, with contemporary items alongside vintage ones.

Two large acid-etched glass doors separate the bedroom from the living room. Photography by David Mitchell.
The dining room table, chairs, and lighting fixture are from 1stdibs. Photography by David Mitchell.
The new kitchen is open to the living room to maximize natural light. Photography by David Mitchell.
The living room’s lounge chair is by Hans Wegner. Photography by David Mitchell.
Photographs over the sofa are by Sze Tsung Leong while the coffee table is steel and glass. Photography by David Mitchell.

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Hariri & Hariri Architecture to Design Contemporary Muslim Fashion Exhibition for de Young Museum

A rendering of Hariri & Hariri Architecture’s exhibition space for “Contemporary Muslim Fashions” at the de Young Museum. Photography courtesy of deYoung Museum.

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Biophilic design: How architecture can contribute to a healthier, less-stressful life

By Janet Dunn
Despite the many conveniences and advantages of modern life, wellbeing and contentment continue to evade many of us. The cure may be in an architectural concept that sounds new but is as old as the hills. Take a dose of biophilia and read how your home’s design can help you live a healthier, less stressful life.

The tale of a tiger

 

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Tony the Siberian-Bengal tiger was an attraction at a truck stop in Louisiana, USA until recently, when his life – lived out in a cage outside the petrol station – was cut short due to illness. The tiger spent most of his 17 years in the fume-filled artificial habitat, but had his owner known more about the links between an animal’s surroundings and its health and happiness, Tony’s story may have ended differently.

Is there a lesson humans can take from Tony’s fate? Deprived of sensory stimuli, social bonds and connection with nature in our homes and workplaces, we may be heading down the same path. Biophilic design is being advanced as the next important focus in architecture and as a remedy, partly, for the plethora of modern-day conditions linked to fatigue and stress.

What is biophilic design?

Biophilia literally translates as ‘love of life’. In the 1980s, American biologist E. O. Wilson proposed that evolution has soft-wired us to prefer natural settings over built environments. In Wilson’s words, we have “an innate and genetically determined affinity … with the natural world”. Exponents of biophilic design are attempting to address this instinct architecturally.

 
Photo by Brickworks Building Products
 

Essential to biophilic theory is the idea that buildings aid our physical and mental health only when they are designed holistically. Rather than isolated elements – for example, simply putting plants in a building – benefits occur when diverse and complementary factors reinforce our experiences of nature. Wilson’s colleague Dr Steven Kellert named plants and natural lighting, and indirect influences through shapes, forms and materials that originate in the natural world, as some of the attributes of this kind of design.

Is it just another name for green architecture?

Green building principles emphasise responsibility to the environment and efficient use of sustainable resources. Although biophilic design embraces these aims, its focus is more on the wellbeing of those who use the spaces.

The merging of planet-based with human-based philosophies is causing a stir in architectural circles. Brian Donovan of BVN Donovan Hill commented that “architecture will never be the same again”.

What’s new about it?

Biophilic design is a rediscovery of an ancient practice, not a new idea. For aeons, architects have recognised the place of humans in a wider ecosystem and integrated natural elements into built forms. Athens’ Parthenon, Rome’s Pantheon, and the ancient Vietnamese city of Hoi An are examples of biophilic design at work, although the label wasn’t attached until the 1980s.

 
By Fallingwater Mill Run - See more Home Design Photos
 

Frank Lloyd Wright was a more recent exponent of biophilia. “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you,” he advised, and many of his buildings bear this out. Notably, his groundbreaking Fallingwater (pictured above) is so integrated with nature as to be inseparable.

Why are we talking about it now?

Today, the concept of biophilia is supported by a more scientific understanding of the psychology behind building-based wellness. Exponents of biophilic design believe the large proportion of time we spend in built environments may contribute significantly to feelings of isolation, tension and lethargy.

Today, there is growing interest in designing restorative, productive and appealing buildings with sustained opportunities to engage with natural systems. Workplaces, medical and aged care facilities and, vitally, our homes are set to benefit hugely from this trend.

What are the elements of biophilic design?

  • Natural light from windows, skylights, clerestory openings; full-spectrum artificial light sources that complement daylight; dynamic light of varying intensity via facades, shades, shutters and apertures.
  • Exterior views. A distant view past a close view gives perspective and a sense of connection to a wider ecosystem.
  • Water sources such as fountains, ponds and water features, that can be seen, heard and touched.
  • Rich sensory stimuli that reference nature; scented plants, plants that change colour seasonally, plants positioned to move in breezeways, open flames, tactile materials. Minimally processed materials that reflect the local ecology; natural fibres such as leather, stone, timber and handmade objects.
 
Photo by Olivia van Dijk Architecture - Look for living room design inspiration
 

An intriguing aspect of biophilic design is that, in the absence of real natural environments, simulation has equal benefits. This is known as ‘biomimicry’ and is perhaps the feature that is most useful and achievable in urban spaces. It is found in:

  • organic shapes in construction and furniture (geometric shapes are rarely found in nature).
  • colour schemes derived from nature – earth and vegetation tones, colours found in water and the sky.
  • nature imagery, either realistic or derivative, including photographs, art, murals, sculptures and stylised floral or vegetal patterns
 
Photo by MRTN Architects – Browse dining room photos
 

An architect talks about biophilic design

Architect Antony Martin says biophilic concepts are very present in MRTN Architects‘ projects. For example, Fairfield Hacienda (above) includes multiple sources of natural light, ventilation and natural materials associated with physical and mental health benefits. Martin describes the undulating cedar-clad ceiling as “the antithesis of the ubiquitous flat, white plasterboard ceiling, moving towards more environmental shapes and forms.”

A green buffer to the street enables connection and interaction with vegetation and views for the occupants and passers-by. Internally, a central courtyard allows visual connection with other areas of the house and creates a thermal ‘lung’ for natural cooling and heating.

 
Photo by MRTN Architects - More kitchen ideas
 

Meanwhile, in his Rathmines project, salvaged materials relate to the Japanese tradition of wabi-sabi – the beauty in imperfection and natural processes. The kitchen island is topped with tactile recycled wharf, while the interior walls and barbecue area outside are constructed of salvaged brick.

In Martin’s Trentham Long House, the material palette echoes the natural environment, favouring texture over flat colour. Timber cladding is allowed to silver over time and contrast with the character-filled slate tile floor. Gabion stone walls shelter alfresco living areas, allowing outdoor connection even on windy days.

 
Photo by MRTN Architects – Search living room pictures
 

A lattice of timber battens throws dappled shadows on the slate floors. “The moving patterns evoke the protective canopy of trees on the forest floor,” says Martin.

 
Photo by MRTN Architects – Search kitchen pictures
 

An extension to the Carlton Cloister was achieved by a corridor link between the main house and the two-storey addition. The covered walkway connects continuously to the garden through north-facing glazing. Built from red brick and blackbutt cladding, materials in this project more closely align to external spaces than interior ones, reinforcing the outdoor aspects of the walkway.

The house is positioned around a central courtyard and offers layered views from every aspect. Concentrating the garden to the north optimises natural daylight. The high thermal mass of internal red brick walls and concrete slab capture direct solar heat like a battery, which is then released when needed. The result is a home that comforts the body as naturally and effectively as it does the soul. And that’s biophilic in one simple phrase.

This article originally appeared on Houzz.

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Alex Chinneck Ties Architecture Into Knots for German Exhibition

Alex Chinneck knotted historic columns for Birth, Death, and a Midlife Crisis, part of “Knots,” which runs at the Städtische Galerie Kornhaus in Kirchheim Unter Teck, Germany, until April 8. Photography by Charles Emerson.

Alex Chinneck has ripped buildings in half. He also melted a brick facade. The English artist’s latest reality-defying endeavor? Tying 450-year-old pillars into knots. Until April 8, German town Kirchheim Unter Teck’sStädtische Galerie Kornhaus will showcase Birth, Death, and a Midlife Crisis, Chinneck’s first indoor sculpture in five years. Part of “Knots,” the architectural intervention also includes the introduction of a perfectly straight column—virtually indistinguishable from the historical ones—to create symmetry around the knotted pillar.

“I like to give fluidity to typically inflexible things, transcending their material nature,” says Chinneck, who included a hard-carved wooden broom leaning against the wall, also knotted. “I wanted to create the impression that the work was born through manipulation, rather than introduction, of material.”

“Knots” also includes a broom. Photography by Charles Emerson.

Chinneck’s knotted works continue their journey when Onwards and Upwards, the largest public artwork ever commissioned in England’s Sheffield City Region, goes on view. Slated to open in summer 2019, the commission by the Tinsley Art Project comprises four chimneys, incorporating 100,000 bricks, that riff on the region’s industrial heritage. 

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HOW ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIOR DESIGN FIRMS WORK WITH PHOTOGRAPHERS

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Magda Biernat photographed a Skidmore, Owings & Merrill building at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado. SOM tends to build long-term relationships with photographers “because there is a learning curve with every new photographer,” says SOM photo coordinator Lucas Blair Simpson.

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7 Beautiful, Family-Owned Wineries That Are Working to Save the Planet

With an ever-growing interest in the field of architecture to go green, it should come as little surprise that agricultural architecture—specifically that of wineries—has seen a surge in promoting sustainability. From tasting rooms to storage facilities to offices, new buildings at wineries across North America are being constructed with eco-friendly technology to reduce the impact of the wineries on the natural environment. And, impressively, many of these wineries are family-owned. Here are seven of our favorite wineries that have structures with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

 

Photo: Damion I. Hamilton / Courtesy of Silver Oak

Silver Oak Winery, Oakville, California

Founded by friends Raymond Twomey Duncan and Justin Meyer in 1972, Silver Oak, which is still owned and operated by the Duncan family, was the first production winery in the world to receive LEED Platinum certification—the highest level of sustainability recognition by the U.S. Green Building Council. In addition to features like solar panels and night-air cooling, the winery has replaced its lawn with turf, which saves about one million gallons of water a year. Silver Oak is also working on opening a second, even “greener” location, which might become the first net-zero energy, net-zero water production winery in the world (pictured here).

“As an American heritage winery, we care about the message our product sends and so do our loyal Silver Oak fans. Our goal in building green was to create sustainable methods that could be replicated moving forward, to advance the green methods wineries have at their fingertips,” Silver Oak CEO David Duncan tells AD.

Photo: Joe Reeder

Hall St. Helena, St. Helena, California

The Hall family’s St. Helena winery became the first in California to receive LEED Gold certification in 2009, following up with additional LEED Gold certifications for its tasting room and production facility. Its sustainable elements include renewable energy systems (like solar power), an advanced stormwater runoff catchment process, and the use of recycled material in its shipping boxes, among many others.

Photo: Courtesy of Shale Oak Winery

Shale Oak Winery, Paso Robles, California

Owned by Al Good, a California transplant by way of Virginia, Shale Oakreceived LEED Silver certification for its tasting room, which has an impressive stained-glass facade and adjacent processing facility. Natural sunlight helps illuminate the interiors during the day, thanks to sun tubes and large windows, a rooftop solar array provides renewable energy, and a rainwater catchment and graywater systems help reduce the winery’s water usage.

 

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The 12 Most Anticipated Buildings of 2018

At its core, architecture is an exceptionally slow art form. After a commission is earned, the planning, building, and completion of a structure can take, at times, upwards of a decade. Through the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this length of time for design and construction wasn’t an issue, as predicating the near-term needs of a city was a relatively achievable goal. Yet, as technology advanced and cities such as New York and London boomed into metropolises, planning to meet the exact needs for an urban space became exceedingly difficult.

Consider the task of an architect who, in 1998, won a commission for a building in Beijing that took ten years to complete. In that time period, China’s capital would undergo one of the biggest social and cultural shifts in the country’s long history. What’s more, the advancements in computer technology during that ten-year stretch were profound. How does an architect predict this type of transformation in an initial scheme? It’s almost impossible. As a result, the role of an architect has changed. No longer are they merely designing a building but are doing so in a manner that’s similar to a sociologist. By spotting (and at times predicting) the patterns of social interactions and cultural norms, today’s influential architects can create an identity for a city that’s become a cacophony of objects.

Looking to the year ahead of us, we wonder: Which buildings will capture the essence of their location, even as they were initially conceived at a time when the demands of the space were different? Below, AD PRO surveys 12 buildings around the world that will not just be completed in 2018 but done so with a design that we believe will produce an identity to match the needs of its environment. When this bold, and at times radical, type of design comes together, the result is stunningly beautiful. Indeed, as the great 19th-century critic Walter Pater once said (and the inimitable architecture critic Herbert Muschamp later echoed), architecture is fundamentally about “the power of being deeply moved by the presence of beautiful objects.” We believe these 12 buildings will possess that power.

Rendering: Courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group

ARC Power Plant, by Bjarke Ingels Group (Copenhagen, Denmark)

For the past few years, Danish starchitect Bjarke Ingels has been redefining skylines across the globe. But for his latest project, the 43-year-old visionary stayed closer to home. Located in Copenhagen, the ARC Power Plant is the apogee of creative brilliance. Fundamentally, the state-of-the-art facility is proof that eco-friendly architecture can be done with high design. Clad in aluminum, the structure is expected to burn 400,000 tons of waste annually into enough clean energy to power 60,000 homes in the area—all of which is a major step in Copenhagen’s plan to become the world’s first zero-carbon city by 2025. But it’s not just about converting waste to energy—it’s about having fun too. Atop the structure’s roof is a nearly 1,500-foot-long ski slope (one of the world’s longest artificial ski slopes), a pipe dream of Ingels’s own that he worked into possibility. The slope, which is accessible through an elevator inside the building, has paths designated for beginners, intermediates, and experts. While Denmark receives a healthy amount of snow, the country is rather flat and not an ideal terrain for ski lovers. BIG’s ARC Power Plant is changing all of that in a very carbon-neutral way.

Rendering: Courtesy of Snøhetta & MIR

Calgary Library, by Snøhetta (Calgary, Canada)

Fundamentally, Calgary’s new library is about connecting residents to public spaces. Located at the intersection between Downtown Calgary and the East Village, the Snøhetta-designed structure lifts to become a gateway from one exciting neighborhood to the next. The building also hovers over the existing Light Rail Transit Line, which cuts through the heart of the city. The geometrically designed exterior will draw residents into the activities occurring inside the library, while those upper levels (which aren’t as open to the public to see from outside) allow for a more quiet, traditional library experience.

Photo: Iwan Baan

Institute for Contemporary Art, by Steven Holl (Richmond, Virginia)

Virginia Commonwealth University’s new Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) is much more than what its name suggests. The genius of Steven Holl’s design is that, while the architecture is masterfully uniform, the usage of its interior is anything but that. The ICA will be used as a cafe bar, a gallery space, a 240-seat auditorium for film screenings, performances, and lectures, as well as a fabrication workshop. Not only do Holl’s irregularly shaped blocks have a whimsical feel, but they are incredibly eco-friendly as well. Four green roofs are planted with native vegetation, which are intended to absorb stormwater and increase insulation. Window and skylights have been strategically placed to ensure the interior receive plenty of natural light, reducing the need for artificial illumination. The project will be opened to the public in April 2018, roughly six years after it was first unveiled.

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How can the smart home sector engage better with the architecture and design world?

A couple of months ago, a colleague and I attended an event co-hosted by Microsoft and the RIBA exploring how to ‘Rethink space through digital design’. Although heavily focused on how Microsoft’s technology could be used to design architectural spaces, a panel discussion also explored several issues around the future of residential and commercial buildings, and what elements the panel believed would be crucial in the coming years. Notably, the terms ‘smart home’ or ‘smart building’ were not mentioned once during this conversation.

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LAUREN BENCIVENGO IS THE 23-YEAR-OLD INTERIOR DESIGNER WHOSE SIDE HUSTLE IN TEXTILE DESIGN IS GETTING MAJOR BUZZ

In a time of “slash careers” (model/photographer/part-time tarot card reader), it’s rare to find authentic creative fulfillment — and success — in more than one industry. It’s especially rare when you haven’t yet hit 25. For Lauren Bencivengo, age is just a number and design is just a very, very broad industry…that she is already conquering on several fronts.

Continue reading LAUREN BENCIVENGO IS THE 23-YEAR-OLD INTERIOR DESIGNER WHOSE SIDE HUSTLE IN TEXTILE DESIGN IS GETTING MAJOR BUZZ

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