It’s such a nice feeling to be back in New York now that travel has opened back up again.
Perhaps it’s a newfound appreciation of life moving forward after the pandemic, but the city seems more vibrant than ever!
As we work on an interior design project for a penthouse in Central Park South, we find ourselves gazing out to the gorgeous views of Central Park and how the beauty of this park, an icon of the New York lifestyle, plays such an important role to New Yorkers.
Apart from the classic horse and carriage rides that appeared in so many films made in New York, Central Park is an urban oasis of activities like feeding the penguins at the Central Park Zoo to Sunrise Morning Yoga Walks, winter Ice skating at Wollman Rink, to the landmark charm of lunching at Tavern on the Green or dining lakeside in the romantic setting of the Loeb Boathouse.
The elegant charm of Manhattan underpins the beauty of Central Park, and as we begin working on another penthouse project here, we can’t help but hear Sinatra’s signature melody New York, New York! Campy, but it gets us every time !
Styling for this project will capture timeless elegance while being easy and effortless to live in.
The apartment will reflect our client’s signature unique style while reflecting the sophistication of the Central Park lifestyle.
The second part of our trip takes us to the Hamptons in Long Island.
Known as a rural summer getaway from the city for the rich and famous, the homes on the Hamptons are as famous as the hedgerows that hide them as well as the perennial American Beach Grass of the East End.
As we work on an interior residential project here, we can feel the relaxed and laid-back atmosphere of coastal living. The coastal breezes, quaint village shops, gourmet farmers’ markets, flower shops, and stylish boutiques all carry the underlying grace and grandeur of living in the Hamptons.
Our residential interiors project will combine the essence of refinement and class with the ease of understated elegance as a thread to the natural charm of its coastal environment.
Whilst the contrast of the Hamptons with Central Park is palpable, the proud American spirit is what ties them together. Much like back in the UK where the British sentiment and spirit reign supreme in its traditions and style.
As we continue the completion of our current projects Central Park and the Hamptons, we are beginning to prepare the next round of projects in these famed areas of New York.
At the beginning of every year, most of us find ourselves looking ahead at what the new year will bring. We set out to define our goals and ambitions and align our minds with the intentions of what we would like to experience for the coming year.
A fresh start with subtle anticipation of those unexpected surprises that tend to shape our lives with meaning and context are planted like seeds in our minds.
On the Peloponnese peninsula of southern Greece, a mythical and historically rich area on the Mediterranean, Euphoria Retreat is nestled in the serene countryside dotted with olive groves, authentic villages, and pine forests.
A magical landscape where the symbiotic relationship of nature and culture is present, Euphoria Retreat is an idyllic place that inspires profound reflection of the depth and meaning of the intimate relationships we have with our physical environments.
Our relationship to the spaces we inhabit is something we experience on a daily basis, yet for most its a dynamic that goes unnoticed until we visit certain places that are awe-inspiring.
We seek to be inspired, surprised, and impressed, yet our day-to-day routines tend to produce feelings that are predictable, safe and familiar.
The Greek quote in Euphoria’s literature succinctly sums up the idea of discovery, “If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.”- Heraclitus
Euphoria’s organic earthy tones on the walls, the circular curvatures of the Waterwell Kneipp Therapy, or the orb-shaped Sphere Pool are designed to visually provoke meditative states of stillness and wonder which awakens all the senses.
These spaces act as a portal into self-discovery with the euphoric feeling of being in the caverns of one’s own consciousness. A mindful introspection is almost inevitable as a sense of curiosity is naturally piqued in these thoughtfully designed spaces of healing.
Apart from the sense of discovery through spaces, colours have the psychological power to affect our moods and evoke certain feelings. In colour psychology, colours are divided in to 3 main categories, warm, cool and neutral.
Warm colours such as reds, oranges and yellows stimulate a sense of love, passion, excitement, as well as social interaction.
Cool colours such as blues, greens and purples evoke feelings of calm and relaxation as well as balance, creativity, mystery and luxury.
Neutrals such as white, beige, greys and black provide a sense of purity, elegance, wisdom, comfort and a natural aesthetic.
Perhaps one of the most notable works of colour were by Russian artist Mark Rothko whose hazy thin washes of colour brought a different luminosity to the contrasting shades of the large expanses of colour. As an Abstract Expressionist Rothko’s signature large-scale coloured rectangles used simplified means to evoke emotional responses.
The psychological sense of the unexpected is what disrupts our thought patterns and it is from this place where a new relationship between us and our environment is created.
Visual and auditory experiences become intrinsically familiar but at the same time, spatial ambiances that are distinctively unexpected unconsciously shift’s one attention.
This dynamic of shifting our attention away to something unexpected prompting pleasant, positive, comforting, and safe emotions is the basis of the psychology of space.
Psychology of space is in fact “the study of human relations and behaviours within the context of the built and natural environments” -Dave Alan Kopec
The design principles such as balance, symmetry, function, movement, and proportion are what we as designers use to invoke a natural harmony in order to evoke the mood we seek to achieve.
So going back to the concept of the unexpected aesthetic, we garner the wisdom and sympathetic value of a mindful and deliberate way to discover those parts of ourselves that would otherwise go unnoticed.
And in doing so, we appreciate the gifts and growth that come from the art of unexpected discovery.
As we find ourselves amidst the holiday season, I find myself thinking about the significance of time, particularly our journeys in time.
The holidays mark an intentional moment to celebrate a year of life, and it certainly comes with all what may! We celebrate personal and professional successes, cherished milestones, new dreams and discoveries, and the musings of forgotten memories, welcoming a new life or the passing of a loved one.
Such is the case for myself as it’s been almost 2 years since my fathers passing, yet it still seems like yesterday we were together in the south of France enjoying the cafes and driving along the beautiful coast of the Cote d’Azur.
A place that was so dear to my fathers heart and where I spent my childhood summers going to all the provincial beaches with my family and sailing on the beautiful Mediterranean.
These memories warm my heart.
Life’s dual nature of beauty and chaos tugs on my emotional heart strings as such memories simply makes me miss my loving father even more. Yet I am comforted by the thought that I always carry his presence in my heart.
Our hearts, the space within us where all our stories are deeply felt.
We seek the stories whose framework will inherently hold the context we seek to describe. The story within us that is wanting to emerge and reveal itself as we live each moment in the unfolding of our journey in time with each other.
By sharing this vulnerable aspect of ourselves, we connect on a deeper level of compassion and kindness.
We relish in our funny stories, embarrassing moments that make us laugh until our bellies hurt, as well as find comfort in the moments that call upon our emotional reserves of resilience and courage when we most need a shoulder to cry on.
But isn’t this what life is all about?
Bearing witness to each other and all our experiences in our journey of sorting it all out. Making sense of it all, especially during these trying times with the pandemic which has sparked the flame of vulnerability in all of us.
The people in our lives give us profound meaning and inspiration to be and discover who we really are.
They are gifts of grace.
I would like to extend my complete gratitude and thanks to the entire team at Callender Howorth, along with our suppliers and business partners for all their work that allows us to deliver excellence in interior design to our clients.
And to all our clients, thank you for your trust and loyalty, we are sincerely honoured to be a part of your journey.
It is with my deepest heartfelt intention, that I wish for all of you this holiday season, to reach out with one another, and let it be a moment in time filled with appreciation and blessings for these are the journeys in time that we share together.
Main image: Callender Howorth project Chalet Solaise in Switzerland. Photo by Andrew Borthwick
Often confused with interior design or a part of it, interior styling focuses on the unique or individual style of the room.
While there is certainly an overlap between the aesthetics design created by an interior designer, interior styling focuses on the relationship of the details of the textures, finishes, and decor.
Originally working with magazines and photoshoots, interior styling services have transitioned to working with creating specific ambiances in our private homes. Changing the ambiance of the room without changing any of its structural properties is the true art of an interior stylist.
In essence they pose a new air of conversation to the room.
By adding, removing and curating different decorative items, fabrics, and placements, the interior stylist can bring in a renewed freshness and updated personality to the room.
Besides the aspect of beautification of a space, we find ourselves asking a more profound esoteric question of the role that interior style plays in our lives and why it matters.
It is hard to believe that interior styling could be a topic whose origins date as far back as the ancient Egyptian tombs whose mural hieroglyphs and intricate wall decor was intended to bring joy to the dead and assist their journey to the afterlife by depicting their family history and achievements.
Basically, these sacred symbols tell their unique story. And they filled up their tombs with plenty of objects and paintings to guide them on their eternal journey.
As one would expect, the tombs of the pharaohs and kings were more elaborate, signifying their power and wealth. The most famous piece of art of ancient Egypt is the gold mask of Tutankhamun of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun from the 18th dynasty who reigned from 1334–1325 BC, found in the Valley of the Kings in 1925 by Howard Carter.
Throughout history the translation of life could be seen through the interior styles from the raw materials, ornate finishings, the symbolic architecture such as cornices, loggias and arcades, and of course the furnishings.
The intentions behind the use of the designs, similar to the ancient Egyptians, reflecting wealth, social and cultural status continue through our modern times and have further evolved into a reflection of our wellbeing and lifestyle.
These motives boil down to one common denominator…the intrinsic importance of our unique story.
In our modern world we continue telling our story through our homes.
We intentionally prepare our homes according to the seasons, we rejuvenate the spirit of our homes through art pieces, decorative details, changing colour palettes and textiles and favourite keepsakes.
We intentionally renovate our homes to reflect our current lifestyle and modern day ideologies of the comforts of living.
We create new spaces, multifunctional living spaces, niche spaces, indulgent luxuries such as bathroom spas, fitness gyms and home cinemas. Our kitchens have morphed into social cooking and entertainment areas, and outdoor gardens have come indoors through glasshouse extensions.
Our homes reflect not only our story, but a historical catharsis of our personal evolution of humanity stemming from prehistoric times.
This might sound like a very mythical notion indeed, but the interpretations of our existence are deeply rooted from our origins and whose expressions serve to bring context and profound meaning to our lives.
At Callender Howorth this the ethos behind our designs in helping our clients to translate a rich and profound meaning to their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
We all carry certain notions of what our desired lifestyle would be and what that would look like.
In its simplest definition, the word lifestyle means a way in which a person lives. This can include different types of domains such as the most widely used, healthy lifestyle, active lifestyle, bohemian lifestyle, independent lifestyle, wealthy lifestyle, and such.
The conscious choice of designing our lifestyle examines the fundamental principles of how we are choosing our habits, activities, desired experiences and connecting to others.
As interior designers we are masters of the art of creating spaces that aligns all of these elements to precisely reflect the client’s intention.
So then it comes as no surprise that this year’s Maison et Objet interior design trade show (September 9-13th) which is running simultaneously with Paris Design week, have adopted the theme of Desired Development to address the needs of an unprecedented time in our global human evolution where responsibility and ethos serve as the cornerstones of inspired design.
While our desires for enjoyment and pleasure with social connection still stand as a tall order, our awareness of designs and concepts for products and spaces has evolved to a higher state of awareness for a conscious movement driving our desired lifestyle and development.
Every single part of the way we are currently living, working, moving, interacting with, communicating, playing, relaxing, consuming, socialising, sourcing, educating, transporting, healing, governing, and designing are undergoing a deliberate exercise of being rethought out.
We have arrived at a critical moment in our human history where our preconceived beliefs about how we are supposed to live are being turned upside down to see how we want to continue living and the changes that would be required individually and collectively to do just that.
Simply put, we are now being given the challenge to adopt a new point of view into the unknown future which for some is quite frightening, but certainly is a portal into discovery, creativity, and inspiration if we embrace it.
Changing our habits is one of the hardest skills to achieve because we are creatures of comfort. New thoughts and ideas about things in life that we are certain of and find safety in are the hardest ideas to consume.
Our natural reflex is to resist and to stay safe in our known environments both internally and externally. But what if we allowed ourselves a small space of curiosity to enter, which is actually an impetus for opening our perspectives, thus making way for the newer versions of ourselves to enter.
A frighteningly exciting thought nonetheless, the kind of feeling one has when you book an exotic vacation to someplace you have never been, knowing that you won’t be the same when you return.
This is where we are holding our expectations at Maison et Objet this year, to see the new versions of our future desired lifestyles and our place in them.
On what would have been her 60th birthday on July 1st, the hearts of the world once again turned their attention and affection towards the late Princess Diana in the unveiling of a statue at her favourite Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace.
As her devoted sons William and Harry unveiled the statue made in “honouring her life and legacy” through a stoic and modest representation of Diana standing and embracing the 3 children at her side amidst her sacred garden filled with her favourite flowers.
Simple flowers with an uncomplicated, pure beauty such as forget-me-nots, white lilies, white roses, tulips, narcissi, and daisies.
The sculptor, Ian Rank-Broadley, whose work has been in the hands of every Briton as he designed the image of the Queen that is on the coins in the UK wanted to “capture her warmth and humanity while showcasing the impact she had across generations.”
And an impact he indeed wildly succeeded as mixed reviews instantly flared up with his attempt at conveying Diana’s ‘ warmth, elegance and energy’ as he intended to do.
The principles of true art is not to portray but to evoke. – Jerzy Kosinski
‘Spiritless hunk of nonsense, grumpy, doesn’t capture her magic’, are some of the expressions landing across UK headlines as this tributary piece of artwork is prompting a larger question of what art actually is. Critics, experts and the art community expressing unabashed rancour and utter disappointment.
As the old adage goes “Art is in the eye of the beholder, and everyone will have their own interpretation.” by E.A. Bucchianeri from Brushstrokes of a Gadfly, we can surmise the expectation of a divided camp in such example as the statue of the late Princess because to depict such a world respected, admired and loved icon is certainly a tall order, especially when working alongside the two people that loved Diana the most, her sons.
By definition, Art, also called (to distinguish it from other art forms) visual art, is a visual object or experience consciously created through an expression of skill or imagination.
And its purpose, to convey meaning, dates back to most of our known humanity, starting with cave art.
So while these timeless pieces capture and share eternal feelings or moments of life, it inherently carries the opinion or translation of the perspective of the artist creating the piece.
So in the example of the sculpture of Diana, the brief by the royals was to create a piece that represents her humanitarian legacy and impact. Kensington Palace wanted her ‘warmth, elegance and energy’ conveyed.
Yet the sculpture shows a version of Diana, without her famous smile, without a flowing gown, and instead a serious facial expression with simple and smart attire. A stark contrast from our visions of what a royal should look like and certainly opposite of what we all envision a royal ‘princess’ to look like.
However, as Diana was known as the ‘People’s Princess’, perhaps Ian Rank-Broadley purposely held back on the glamour, royal tradition and anything that represents a royal British monarchy.
A monarchy where Diana clearly never felt at home.
Because in this light, there is no distraction from the underlying truth; the honour of a simple woman who valued human life and explicitly gave love that is required to protect that, not only with her own sons, but with the world at large.
The question then becomes do we consume art from our expectations or from what is actually being expressed, whether overstated or understated, simple or complex, basic or grandiose? And can we see that truth beyond our beliefs and expectations?
Art, an unveiling of a truth that lies in the eyes of the beholder, evoking us and challenging us to see that truth.
What do you see?
We asked a couple of artists and galleries we work with to answer this same question, here are their perspectives.
“The enormity and emotional expectation associated with this commission cannot be underestimated. A figure so publicly revered as Diana, would prove a very difficult subject matter for any artist.
The finished result with its conservative nature, while disappointing, probably fulfils the brief as a piece of public sculpture which can be appreciated by the majority.
From an artist’s point of view, in my mind, compositionally, I feel that the central figure is far too big. Her proportions are quite masculine and lumbering. Had she been in an elevated position, on a plinth, these large proportions might have been more successful, but at eye level, it feels confusing. I also despair at the Dickensian style ‘urchins’ which surround her.
Their appearance seems quaint, dated and quite disconnected from the central figure. To immortalise a public figure in bronze so associated with vitality and vibrancy during their lifetime, is a very difficult ask. This is no war memorial,. This is an attempt to capture a plethora of human frailties and strengths as a part of a story which ended in tragedy. The weight of that subject matter is enormous.
This project bought to mind the recent controversy with Maggi Hambling’s portrayal of Mary Wollstonecraft. How should women be commemorated as statues, as a figurative portrayal? or as Maggi suggested as the ‘Every Woman’? its an interesting debate and I am not sure that either of these works answers those questions succinctly.
What would I have done differently? I would have run away from this commission as fast as my legs could carry me..!”
“Ian Rank-Broadley is an Institutional favourite that’s for certain, being a designer for the royal mint. His previous work such as Lord Rochester, His Whore & a Monkey, Josephine Baker in full dancing swing, The Armed Forces Memorial and now Diana… The memorial depicts a clunky looking Diana shielding three children of the world. The statue is larger than life and sculpted to depict her exact likeness, understandable as her sons commissioned the work. The addition of three children seems to have been a hasty and confusing decision, was the artist worried she would be a figure standing alone?
Perhaps, Rank-Broadley could have borrowed Maggi Hambling’s material from her hotly debated sculpture of Mary Woolstencroft on Newington Green, 2020. Hambling depicted an allegorical figure of feminism, a woman rising up on a wave of silvered bronze. This material gives the work (whether the nudity is relevant or not) an ethereal and modern appearance.This method of material could have emboldened the Diana statue, allowing the lumpen bronze to project more of a celebration of her life.”
Young Artist Partnership aims to support young artists on their career path, providing a forum for their works, mentoring with existing artists, and showing them how to commercialise their practice.
With an online presence and skilfully curated exhibitions they endeavour to make ‘young’ art accessible to all and to provide a market for collectors and those interested in supporting artists starting out and growing their careers.
Showcasing our talented tribe of Emerging and Emerged (Guest) Artists latest artworks, we support charities including: Article 12 Arts, and St Mungo’s. Article 12 Arts provide creative materials and opportunities for young refugees, children in need and those seeking asylum to enjoy and express themselves.
St Mungo’s works to prevent homelessness and support people at every step of their recovery from homelessness.
As art plays such an integral and influential role in society, when we question the perspectives of art, especially public works, we examine the notions of symbolism and their expressions to clarify our sentiments not only for our personal understanding, but moreover as a timestamp for a connected global society in that moment in time.
London Design Week at Chelsea Harbour is one of our favourite local design events where some of the worlds most talented designers, craftsmen and artisan never cease to fill our interior design cups with inspiring new ideas and concepts.
As luxury interior designers we are keenly interested in the visions of the interior design industry and the notions they reveal and resonate with our sensitivities.
As the world slowly reemerges from a pandemic standstill, there is one underlying current that was palpable at Chelsea Harbour this year….Escapism. And rightly so!
Here is a vivid selection of our suppliers newest collections and products at London Design Week.
As we work very closely with our suppliers, we are always so excited to experience their new designs.
Showcasing their new collection in collaboration with Sophie Patterson, Andrew Martin’s Condor Collection takes us to the Andean mountains with these organically rich and exotic textures and stripes of their cushions and textiles.
Escaping to the jungle with authentic colours reminding us raw coconut and tropical wildlife, Porta Romana’s new lamps and lighting brings a paradisiacal elegance to our senses.
Exotic dreams are synonymously present with Julian Chichester’s timeless style design with all his pieces.
The statement “Gin” drinks cabinet and “Medusa” red gesso wall light are innovative and eclectic; the token individualistic style of Chichester designs.
The jacquard motifs from Dedar send us on an exploration of the relationships between our architectural contexts and the natural world in which we live with a coup d’oeil to our historical worldly influences.
The textures are a testament to their art of Italian textile reinvention.
Delving into the ethers of the 19th and early 20th centuries, Vaughan’s Chawton collection gives us an esoteric curiosity about time past and the stories held within them.
Their ‘Longparish’ mirror and ‘Broughton’ bobbin chair play on our sensitivities of a good tale, a hidden history and the subtle art of storytelling.
The exceptional artistry and craftsmanship in Arterior’s Spring/Summer 21 collection carries two narratives of natural rhythms and tactile monochrome.
This deep-seated collection reminds us of our native roots and our natural foundations wherever the origins maybe.
A presence of our own humanity.
Altfield’s curation of luxury textiles is always impeccable. We found the ‘Exotica’ fabric on the sofa completely congruent with elegant authenticity. The “Linum” wallcovering was divine and classy.
A signpost for luxury in character and composition.
We are so passionate about attending interior design industry trade shows to view the latest inspirations from such talented artists and designers, especially young artists.
This year we are working with YAP Young Artist Partnership which aims to support young artists on their career path, providing a forum for their works, mentoring with existing artists, and showing them how to commercialise their practice. Founded and ran by Run by Louisa Higgs and Annabel Seal, we found some of their art so beautiful and inspiring.
For more information about YAP- Young Artist Partnership you can visit their website at www.yapart.co.uk.
We live in a world of contrast.
Light and dark, thick and thin, happy and sad, yin and yang, simple and complex, night and day.
The dual nature of our universe gives us contrast, which sometimes can be good, and of course, can sometimes be bad. As the adage goes, there are two sides to every coin and two sides to every story.
First and foremost, our lives would be quite boring without it! Mundane, uninteresting, and bland.
Much of what we desire emerges from the experience of contrast within our lives and what we see in our surroundings.
Contrast gives us an opportunity to see and understand something from another perspective. It helps us see and feel things that we might not have noticed or felt otherwise.
And that is how inspiration is born.
In the context of visual design, contrast is simply the difference between two or more elements in a composition. The greater the difference between them, the easier it is to compare and understand.
The object that is most obvious and that stands out is the object with high contrast known as the primitive object. This is where our eye in our visual processing goes first, even before our consciousness.
In our Regents House Project, we used a large piece of artwork in monochromatic crimson to contrast the depth of this spacious white bathroom bathroom for a bold yet minimal, modern feel.
Some typical primitive objects are size, colour, depth, shape, motion, orientation, curvature, line terminators, and closures.
Ever walk into a room and immediately be taken in by the Wow factor?
For interior designers, contrast is the secret design principle that originates in our cognitive bias when we view two elements with opposing characteristics.
Our perception is then one of comparison known as the contrast effect.
We compare two elements in order to understand the differences between them such as making something appear lighter when it is placed against a dark background.
The most known example of visual perception of contrast is the Gestalt psychological concept of figure-ground where one sees a form or figure and its surroundings or ground.
The use of positive and negative space determines what the viewer will see. Gestalt theories of perception are based on human nature being inclined to understand objects as an entire structure rather than the sum of its parts
When you have the Wow factor of space, what you actually are witnessing is the proper use of contrast in design.
Contrast creates a memorable impact and visual interest by coherently pulling the whole room together.
Colour is the key element in interior design.
Contrast can be created in monochromatic variations, in the use of bold colours and levels of intensity, in patterns and textures, and in lighting.
In our Mayfair Mews House project we used natural light to contrast the darker tones in the living room with an impressive large glass wall partition.
Capturing all the natural light from the skylights above the staircase, the darker tones of the living room were contrasted with the visual impact of the staircase. The living room feels open and airy with a larger sense of space coherent with the light and space from the interior garden.
As a fundamental principle of interior design, contrast is what draws the focus of your eyes while keeping the space coherent and relatable.
It is this dynamic punch that compels us to further immerse ourselves into that space in full appreciation of the experience and intimate awareness.
In some shape or form, the influence of architecture has seemingly infused into your life.
In our psyche lies the Empire State Building in NYC, the Eiffel Tower, and Big Ben. Whether visiting or simply just reading about impressive structures around the world on the internet, architecture plays a significant role on who we claim to be.
The sense of awe when you walk into Antonio Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona or the Duomo in Florence, Italy reflects our sense of context and perspective within these luminous and esoteric spaces.
Architecture gives us the opportunity to visually and conceptually understand different periods of existence and into the mysterious minds of their creators.
While some structures reflect the past or future, architecture is a roadmap of identity whether physical, cultural, and/or spiritual.
For some the greatness in architecture lies in the complexity and detail, for others it resides in its simplicity, order, and precision.
Symbolic aspects of sacred geometry in religious structures tell a story of faith and dogma to which practitioners will find themselves elevated to a higher level of religious and spiritual connection.
These sanctuaries serve as guardians of identity. While some can be greater-than-life in their ornate grandeur, others can be an extraction of all-that-is in its bare space.
Whether deeper meanings are inscribed in archaic texts and/or mystical frescoes on the walls with secret codes built in the architecture itself, ancient churches, temples, and structures in their entirety represent a living entity of its proper doctrine.
Yet the nature of architecture is organically mirrored in our humanity.
At the root of architecture is the notion that we are different people in different spaces..a repository of our own ideals. Are we the same person at home as we are in the pyramids of Egypt or the Burj Al Arab in Dubai?
So then a question arises. Does our identity cling to the concept and construct of another’s ideal? Or are these structures windows into a landscape of possibility that carries intentionality to design who we want to be and become it?
A provoking question especially when we are both the creators and the audience of the creations.
Our homes serve as our physical refuge from the outside world, a refuge from everything that we are vulnerable to. Our homes are also our psychological sanctuary that reflects our identity and our state of mind.
As our evolution shifted into the modern age, the architecture of our homes, buildings, and new landmarks corresponded accordingly.
One only has to think of Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Center, in Baku, Azerbaijan to understand the focus and intentionality of breaking free from constraints of past tradition and history and instead of setting our sights on designing a drastically different future.
The modernist movement whose creative focus on living by design presented us with radical expressions of science and technology that presented a new roadmap to contemporary existence at its core.
Encapsulating this new architectural language in modern living was Charles-Édouard Jeanneret (1887-1965), known as Le Corbusier, whose Villa Savoye avant-garde style and highly criticized novel aesthetic paved the way to a new climate of reinforced concrete pillars, flat roofs, open-plan living, and horizontal windows we see in today’s most influential homes.
Neither limited by shape or form, the modernist movement somehow embraced the unusual and unexpected as elegant fashion.
An example of untethered architecture comes for the highly celebrated Palais Bulles or more commonly known as the Pierre Cardin House located in Theoule-sur-mer An unexpected design of optical curves and perspectives represents more harmonious living according to the the architect Antti Lovag.
Actually, Lovag considers spherical design more in alignment to our human nature because as she explains, “Straight lines” is an aggression to human nature as the circular range of motion produced by our bodies as well as our social behavior, social circles and cycles of life. Lovag’s philosophy similar to that of Antonio Gaudi who believed that straight lines do not exist in nature.
Also embracing curve lines is the Crescent house in Wiltshire designed by Make Architects.
Here the home is made up of an inner crescent and outer crescent. The inner crescent has concave floor to ceilings windows that allow the home social area to connect completely with its outdoor garden surroundings. The bedrooms are in the outer crescent with a shielding solid wall protecting it from the adjacent road.
Architecture is an element of living that influences how we feel and perceive our external world. It is an understated influence that we often take for granted.
By spending time appreciating differing types of architecture that inspire different kinds of thoughts and concepts, we realign ourselves to the present moment in time in our humanity.
From that mindful perspective we can naturally ask ourselves, Where do we want to go next?
And who will that require us to become?
As we remove the heavy cloak of a winter in lockdown, the notion of spring slowly arrives into our consciousness.
After an unprecedented pandemic year of 2020, we are joyfully and gallantly stepping into spring with a bolder vibrant energy in our step!
Call it a new found appreciation or respect for life that perhaps many of us took for granted and from which we now carry a newly transformed expression of intentional optimism and gratitude.
The vernal spring equinox, which lands on March 20th this year, is rooted in our ancient history that has stood the test of time with the symbolism of a new beginning. In fact, up until the 18th century in Europe it marked the start of the new astrological year during which time it was common for people to perform rituals to clear out old energy in both their homes and in their minds. Synonymous with what we call spring cleaning.
Since primitive cultures were more closely tied to the earth, the sun’s journey across the equator was the way in which ancient civilisations ran and built cities and grew crops. The spring equinox was a time of renewal, regeneration, and reproduction.
However, the deeper meaning that the vernal equinox bears is its intrinsic concept of balance, an equilibria as the amount of light during the day equals that of the darkness of night. Equinox derived from its latin root aequus (equal) and nox (night).
A symbolical narrative that is a part of our humanity through natural law.
During the spring we witness the vivid transformation of nature in full bloom such as in Japan with the Cherry Blossoms (Sakura) which symbolise the transience of life.
Each natural event brings with it our interpretation of its inherent meaning and our relationship to it.
At the Mayan Chichen Itza dedicated to Kukulcán, the pyramid serves as a visual symbol of the day and night.
While here in England you will find druids and pagans flocking to Stonehenge in Salisbury Plain to watch the sunrise of the spring equinox rise over the sarsen stone circle.
In Great Britain and in Europe people celebrate spring with the Maypole Dance symbolising the sacred tree, plentiful crops, and fertility. While Christians and Jews celebrate religious traditions with Easter and Passover respectively.
There is no question about the vibrant energies in the colours of spring.
As we curate our homes to tell our new stories during this period of illumination, our eyes are naturally focused on things that evoke our desires for organic opulence and meaningful nostalgia.
Our senses awaken to lavender blushes, lemon yellows, cinder rose and artichoke.
Our minds connect to spring through the pigments and stains of blooming flowers and budding trees, while the luminosity of the sun gives us the impression that someone just turned on the lights because everything appears to be in living colour again.
A couplet of Emily Dickinson’s poem A Light in Spring always ruminates through my mind at the beginning of each spring, serving as an inspiration to this unique time of the year.
A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here
A Colour stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.
Spring is more than just spring cleaning and redecorating, is about honouring a moment in our humanity as a humanity.
It’s a time to reset our tone, recreate, rediscover, bring clarity to our intentions, and begin a new story with new energy and purpose. A moment to shift our perspective and attitudes to serve our evolutionary advantage.
A new start that is bright and bold. Spring is here!