Category Archives: wonderful spaces.

revisiting a modernist in berlin.

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Revisiting this beautiful modernist – the use of texture, simple but sophisticated colour palette and clean lines is a look I revert to time and again.

Part of the 1957 building exhibition in Berlin’s Tiergarten park, this Modernist glass atrium house was designed by Eduard Ludwig, an architect who studied briefly at the Bauhaus, and whose passion lay in the design of bungalow-style houses. He studied under Mies van der Rohe and the influence of modernist masterpiece the Barcelona Pavillion is evident here.

The simple lineality of the building is echoed internally with the floating linear kitchen cabinets, built-in, low-level storage lining the living area, and bathroom vanity in palest stone suspended against a full wall of mirror. Textured surfaces abound and are enhanced with splashes of intense colour in the palette of dark orange, black and off-white. Simple, classic furniture pieces like the shaker style chair (Hay do a simlar one, here) and brass domed kitchen pendant hold their own and yet perfectly compliment the space.

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Atrium-House-in-Berlin-by-bfs-design-1Beautifully restored by architectural firm bfs-design: Atrium House by Eduard Ludwig via Daily Icon.

Photos: Annette Kisling

simplicity – the ultimate sophistication: an apartment in rome.

This apartment in Rome starts with strong architectural features – an intricate parquet floor, high ceilings and elegantly arched windows, framing a view towards the dome of St Peters. Because that is enough, the rest is kept simple. The arches are echoed internally, but also countered, by unembellished, rectangular openings.

The palette is calm, with pale colours allowing  the light to bounce and play. Then come the details, which transform the apartment into a sophisticated, refined space. In the kitchen, an island bench in bronze contrasts with a grey-veined, white marble top; the materials mitred at the edges as if they were cast as one piece.

One of my favourite of stones, travertine, is used to clad the bathroom walls, with a mirror set flush with the surface, and washbasin formed out of stone. And the floor to ceiling joinery is adorned with nothing but linear, bronze inlay door handles.

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Casa_Roma_022-1471x1080Casa_Roma_0252-749x1080casa-roma_ohlCasa_Roma_0122-749x1080I love the simplicity, what about you?
Apartment in Rome by Quincoces-Dragò & Partners. Photography, Alberto Strada

via est magazine

 

fabulous finds – at the chapel.

We bumped into At The Chapel by accident, on a pit stop whilst travelling home to London from Dorset. Either that, or we were drawn there instinctively, because as soon as we stepped inside we were captivated. Set within the rigorous stone walls of a Grade 11 listed former chapel, the interior is a design delight – contemporary without being cold, restrained without being minimal. It’s also a clever mix of bakery, restaurant, wine store, club room and guest rooms, so that there is always somewhere to eat, somewhere to sit, somewhere to chat. The atmosphere is buzzy, but not bustling.

The owners are Catherine Butler and Ahmed Sidki, who have built and run the place themselves. Ahmed is an architect and cabinet maker, who also runs a furniture workshop (bowwow.co.uk) and incredibly, has designed and built everything here. Using a palette of natural materials – reclaimed timber of different textures and tones, bronze, stainless steel, and concrete – he has created functional, beautiful pieces: chairs, tables, stools, the bar. Against the simple white background, everything is strong of form and perfectly placed. The rooms (there are 8 in total) add white marble to the palette, bringing an element of luxury. For me, the aesthetic is spot on.

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As much as I’d like to think we discovered this place, we are not alone. Bruton is becoming something of an outpost for all things creative, with Hauser & Wirth opening here last year (with the most stunning landscaped garden); a marvellous vintage homeware shop, Phillips and Skinner, which is full to bursting with fabulous finds (I was in vintage heaven); and now a new lifestyle store, Caro, which featured in this month’s Wallpaper magazine (link, here).

At The Chapel, High Street Bruton, Somerset, BA10 0AE

Feature image + photographs 6,7,8,9, At The Chapel; all others, owl’s house london.

redefining minimalism in paris.

This Parisian apartment mixes classical, period detailing with ‘30s ornamentation, ‘70s retro fun, and contemporary clean lines and modern hues. Located in a typically ornate Haussmann building, the vertical lines of the soaring ceilings are emphasised and enhanced with full-height window treatments and bold paintwork; the curved forms of the furniture and furnishings soften this effect and bring the scale back down to earth.

The main walls have a pale grey, distressed finish, with ghosted images of the original panelling. A deep blue, curvaceous sofa dominates the living room, flanked by other low lying, curved pieces. A traditional, glass fronted vitrine containing porcelain figures is lined with non-traditional, tangerine-coloured fabric.The kitchen juxtaposes jade green granite with gold fixtures and original parquet floors. Matt gold walls line a corridor leading to a red bathroom with black marble basin. A guest room is painted out in boldest Majorelle-Blue, the colour named after the French artist of the same name, who was inspired by the colours of Morocco.

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studioko_ohl.studio-ko-paris-t-magazine-ohl.The apartment is designed by Studio Ko, a Paris based practice known for their minimal aesthetic (see my previous post, here). Featured in the New York Times Style magazine, the article defines the look as ‘spare elegance, with rich colour and quietly luxurious furnishings’. It talks of ‘redefining minimalism’. It is a bold, exuberant look, but minimal too; there are no layers, rather, each piece has space to breathe and stand alone. The colour palette isn’t overly restricted. The pieces work together because of their juxtaposition, and the backdrop serves to unify. It’s light and airy, so there is a feeling of space, even where space is restricted. The look is dramatic, but not dark, so one can inhabit the spaces without resorting to artificial light. I love this style of interior decorating. What about you?

Photos by Francois Halard.

a very modern hotel.

Futurist, modernist, dynamic: the gull-winged TWA terminal at JFK airport is the epitome of mid-century design. Evoking a bird in flight, it is also a force in concrete construction. It was certainly a major influence on me during my architectural studies, as I poured over the images of this and other iconic modernist imagery by architectural photographer Ezra Stoller.

The TWA terminal was the last project by Finnish born architect Eero Saarinen (completed in 1962), who said of it:

All the curves, all the spaces and elements right down to the shape of the signs, display boards, railings and check-in desks were to be of a matching nature. We wanted passengers passing through the building to experience a fully-designed environment, in which each part arises from another and everything belongs to the same formal world.

It is this all inclusive design that gives the building its streamlined, organic quality; everything is considered, everything belongs (I particularly adore the sunken, built-in seating). It is perhaps this that became the building’s downfall; it was unable to adapt and expand.

The terminal is about to undergo a complete refurbishment as a hotel and museum. The photographer Max Touhey was given access to document the building alongside a team of surveyors using 3-D laser scanners. Touhey made 700 photographs, a few hundred of which were bracketed (several exposures of each shot are used to ensure the light is correct), or used in a time lapse video.

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TWA terminal, Eero Saarinen. Photographs by Max Touhey. Via wired.com; lattimes.com; somewhereiwouldliketolive.com

a pool house of cool, black simplicity.

There is a striking simplicity about this pool house with its sleek, black facade. Laid out symmetrically, it is centred about the pool and a recessed seating area, replete with fireplace and log store. Pocket sliding doors are concealed, but ready if required to separate the building from the outdoors.

The pool itself is a beautiful, elegant thing – it simply drops away as if a puddle had formed on the surface. The pale grey pavers of Belgian bluestone, with their specially aged finish (a combination of flaming and sandblasting) line the pool as well as the surrounding terrace. The building exterior is clad with ash Thermowood – heat-treated timber produced and manufactured in Finland – and finished with 3 layers of an opaque, off-black stain. The properties of this type of wood make it ultimately stable, so it can be used with millimetre precision, unlike timber which will expand and contract and change colour over time.

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Finely textured, pale- coloured internal walls are a stunning contrast to the black exterior. The monochrome palette continues with fittings and fixtures of dark metal, and a Belgian bluestone water trough, carved out of one solid block and aged afterwards.

All the furniture and hardware in the project is custom designed, except the vintage bench and the fabulous ‘Boomerang’ easy chair by Swedish furniture designer Yngve Ekström, which definitely appeals to my Australian sensibility…

CD Poolhouse by Antwerp-based designer Marc Merckx, with thanks. Photos Dominique Smet

house of the year 2015.

Drawing on classical country houses and Palladio, with Mies van der Rohe restraint and order, and European style courtyards, this house sets a new English country house style, without turning to mid-century language to express itself. David Chipperfield’s Fayland house in Buckinghamshire is Architecture Review’s House of The Year. Better known for his commercial buildings, art galleries and retail stores, his architecture is all about restraint.

A loggia extends across the length of the building, enabling the main living spaces to face the expansive landscape. The floor plan is laid out enfilade, meaning all doors are laid out along a single axis, providing a vista through the entire suite of rooms. This is reminiscent of grand European houses, and a style we use a lot in retail store planning.

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The palette of materials is neutral and luxe – terrazzo floors, exposed concrete ceiling, white marble bathrooms and kitchen. The rooms are lined with the same brick inside and out. The bricks are white, laid with a lime mortar of a similar tone. The technique used – the mortar applied thickly then sponged off – leaves a residue creating a sfumato effect, giving a soft, homogenous look, far from the industrial look of a regular raw brick wall. The details are sublime with nothing extraneous – skirtings, architraves and cornices are not required where junctions between surfaces align with millimetre precision. Dark metal framed windows frame the view and save the palette from feeling anodyne.

What do you think of House of the Year?
Fayland House by David Chipperfield, via Architecture Review.

The RIBA have also announced their winners for 2015, here.