Author Archives: owls house london.

About owls house london.

architect, designer and general enthusiast of all good design.

from the archive: intimate spaces, defined.

Since I first wrote about the work of Romain Laprade, he has gone on to photograph campaigns for Isabel Marant, Kinfolk and Aesop amongst others: a dizzying array of exciting brands. His work is stylish and bold, often reminiscent of a movie still, and always distinctive. From the archive – my post from 2017:

Bold, modernist spaces in and around European cities dominate the site of French photographer Romain Laprade. He seeks out the intimate places often forgotten or deemed unimportant – foyers and entry halls – transition spaces that are too often seen as a luxury. It is these spaces that in reality allow a building to breathe, provide a place for occupants to pause, a space to contemplate or to stop and chat before passing through.

Romain started working as a graphic designer, working at French Vogue for 4 years. Now 28, his obsession is photography. The places he has found and photographed – the ones I like the most – are the foyers of modernist buildings from the ‘60s and ‘70s, most often in Paris. These wonderful interiors are rich in colour and texture – black granite cladding inlaid with bronze, or rows of mosaic tiles in bold hues of orange or red; bold concrete forms standing like voluptuous, oversized chess pieces, and floors of verde green marble. All surfaces have been considered – fine, dark bricks laid obliquely adjoin a ceiling of glossy black and red tiles; a vertical screen of rich brown wood opposes perfectly proportioned piers of tiny, matt black mosaic.

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Images 1, 2 , 3,  Paris 15; image 4 and feature image, Av. Paul Doumer, 1960, Paris.
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Image 5, Carrer de Brusi, Barcelona; image 6, Le persicope, 1972, Paris; images 7, 8, Le Meridien, 1964, Paris.rl_crimee_ohl02rl_creteil_ohl01rl_beaugrenelle_ohl06
 Image 9, Crimée, 1968, Paris; image 10, Créteil; image 11, Beaugrenelle.

See more Romain Laprade imagery, including beautiful fashion photographs for John Galliano and Tomasini Paris, here.

All images, courtesy Romain Laprade.

marvellous modernist: the Isokon building.

I wrote about the wonderful Isokon Gallery for Museeum.com. You can read the article, here

 

 

from the archive: lessons in modernism.

If I could be anywhere this coming week it would be Palm Springs for Modernism week and the Palm Springs Art Fair. Palm Springs is of course a modernism enthusiasts’ delight, with its plentiful single and split level homes, all shifting planes and open plan layouts, with big glass sections and cantilevered floors.

Instead, I’m rediscovering the work of one of my favourite proponents of the style, the Melbourne architect and writer Robin Boyd. His work and in particular his writing were hugely influential on me growing up in the suburbs of Melbourne. His two key tomes – Australia’s Home and The Australian Ugliness – defined for me everything that was wrong with suburban living.

One of his best known works is Walsh Street house designed by Boyd for his family in 1957. It now houses the Robin Boyd Foundation and remains in its original condition.

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Furnished with pieces designed by Boyd’s contemporaries – Grant Featherston and Clement Meadmore (whom I once met, and visited his home in NY) amongst others – it demonstrates the design principles championed in his books, utilising an introspective layout, with the main house and a separate children’s pavilion facing inwards toward a central courtyard. (This was in direct contrast to the usual model of building a suburban house in the middle of the block).

The finishes are bold and intense – deep, saturated colours and dark-painted brickwork walls; rich red woodwork, glimmering mosaic and even copper (how very contemporary…). Floor-to-ceiling plate glass, soaring ceilings and clerestory windows ensure light and nature are ever present.

An (almost) fitting substitute for a trip to Palm Springs…

Walsh Street House via Photographs, Eve Wilson

modernist works on paper.

I discovered the work of Carsten Nielsen, owner of Bycdesign Studio, on Instagram. Appealing to both my modernist and minimalist sensibiliites, Carsten’s works are simple and geometric in form, bold, and resolutely modern.

Born and raised in Aalborg, Denmark – the ‘Paris of the North’ – inspiration came early, from photographs of buildings and geometric shapes through to mathematical equations. His background is print making and photography, and he only started printing shape and form onto paper and canvas in 2016.

‘The simple lines create a new object fascinates me, and force me to think art in a new way though the simple lines’. 

His inspiration is mid-centry design, both in classic furniture and architecture and modern art. He works from his home studio which forms the perfect backdrop for his works.

bycdesign studio

 

the hypatia collection.

Good art and beautifully designed chairs. Two of my very favourite things will be brought together in an exhibition by the Madrid-based artist Nikoleta Sekulovic, at Rebecca Hossack gallery in London. 

The Hypatia Collection, named after an Ancient Greek female philosopher famous for being the greatest mathematician and astronomer of her time, consists of ten paintings of female nudes, each seated on a chair from furniture company Viaduct’s collection. Each chair has been personally selected by the sitter. 

The paintings are acrylic and graphite on canvas, in a limited palette of mostly white, greys, black and browns; the soft, muted forms of the figures both contrast with and complement the angular lines of the chairs. I love how the paintings feel both modern and timeless. Nikoleta Sekulovic, Hypatia, 2019, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 180 x 130 cmNikoleta Sekulovic, Nossis of Locri, 2019, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 167 x 150 cmNikoleta Sekulovic, Moero of Byzantium, 2019, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 170 x 125 cmNikoleta Sekulovic, Anyte of Tagea, 2019, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 160 x 165 cmNikoleta Sekulovic, Aesara of Lucania, 2019, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 150 x 160 cmNikoleta Sekulovic, Porcia Catonis, 2019, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 150 x 175 cm

The models, all known to the artist and all fellow mothers, are given classical titles – the names of ancient Greek female poets and philosophers, and a small historical description of her will be inscribed on the back.

‘…. perhaps the most significant concept behind the combination of a muse and designer furniture is the idea of finding the stillness within, even if it is for a fleeting moment.’ Nikoleta Sekulovic.

The chairs include several of my personal favourites –  He Said chair by Mattiazi, Hiroshima dining chair by Maruni, Tri-Angle stool by Karakter, the enigmatic Eugene lounge chair by E15, amongst others.Nikoleta Sekulovic is an artist presently based in Madrid. Born in Rome to a German mother and a Serbian father, she has worked in London, Paris and New York.

The Hypatia Collection, 28 January – 21 February 2020, Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery, Conway Street, London.

Images courtesy Rebecca Hossack Gallery

 

the tractor shed.

It’s been a good long while since I’ve been here, so I’m starting with a project we completed late last year. I’m very much looking forward to regular postings again.

The Tractor Shed involved the conversion of a dilapidated tractor shed in Hertfordshire into a 4-bedroom home for an artist, including two generous studio spaces.

Approaching the house from the north, the simple, bold openings of the elevation are evocative of the original building with its giant barn doors; the entry though is not here, but through a small porch recess to the side where a last glance of the landscape can be seen through a corner window before entering.

An unfolding sequence of spaces of different scales are tied together with unexpected glimpses between rooms and strong connections to the landscape. On entering the hall, light filters down through rough-sawn oak slats into the hallway below from a skylight at the apex. The dramatic scale of the barn is fully revealed in the main studio and open-plan kitchen. The lowered ceiling height in the adjoining dining area is intimate yet expansive, opening onto the garden and landscape beyond. Adjacent to this is a cosy snug room with deep heather-brown walls, a raised timber floor and wood burning stove. A traditionally proportioned living room with a large picture window to one side is centred around a wood-burning stove set into a herring-bone brick lined recess. Oak floor boards are used to line all surfaces of the the stairwell; this immersion  is interrupted by a glimpse through a cutout slot down to the seating nook below. Split landing levels at first floor allow generous raked ceilings in bedrooms to the south and two smaller scale bedrooms to the north. Eaves are utilised for the most intimate spaces; a dressing room with a slot window down to the main studio and a hidden mezzanine.

A restrained palette of materials is left as natural as possible and evoke the building’s industrial past – polished concrete floors to the living spaces downstairs, an oak-faced plywood kitchen, and solid oak floors upstairs. The  original precast concrete frame is left expressed rather than hidden, and is seen at different scales as one moves through the building. Timber used for the exterior cladding was cut from trees felled from the client’s own land, which he blackened using a blow-torch – after scouring YouTube videos for instruction – creating a soft, variegated effect. 

Tractor Shed by HeathWalker Studio.

Photographs: Adrien Fouéré (@weareurbananimals)