1 November 2011

Fantastic building! But the interior…?

It’s such a disappointment when you receive an exquisitely wrapped present, only to remove the well-crafted wrapping paper and find something you wouldn’t even take to the charity shop. By the same token, you sit down to eat at a stylish new restaurant that you had to reserve several weeks in advance, only to find the food is utterly second-rate. And when someone hands you a well designed business card made from quality paper stock, how disheartening is it to check out their website only to find a throw-back to the 1990s!

In the same way, as an interior designer and lover of modern architecture, it’s bewildering to me how an aesthetically designed building from all outward appearances can possibly have a badly designed interior, and yet it happens all too often. Good design should flow, outside to inside, where one complements the other. It genuinely pains me whenever I see a beautiful modern building with an interior that does not suit its exterior.

I appreciate that my view of good design will to a certain extent be subjective and thus influenced by my personal feelings and tastes. At the same time, my feelings about design, my knowledge and my tastes, are what make me a good interior designer. Thus, when I see interior design that is substandard or absurd, I feel it is my responsibility to be honest about what I see, to be constructive in my criticism and should the opportunity be there, to think about and offer alternative solutions.

I am clear about and confident in my design philosophy. My aim is that a space should have a pleasing aesthetic, emotional connection, personality, functionality and a clean, contemporary style. I find my inspiration in Nordic design, 20th century design classics and new British design. I believe that good design, honest design and long-lasting design are essential to our sense of self and our emotional wellbeing.

When you’re passionate about something, for me it’s interior design, it can actually be quite distressing to see things that are wrong or just don’t work. My favourite new residential development in London is NEO Bankside (I’ve talked about it previously in a blog called My London City Icons). When walking past the site, I get utterly frustrated at the marketing images on billboards where you see a beautiful apartment with the most ludicrous interior design and styling. For me, the projected “this is what your apartment could look like” image in no ways resonates with the modern, self-assured and stylish exterior. It’s as though the people designing the interior haven’t considered the setting and the place. In fact, dare I say it, often the interiors of luxury new builds are created to appeal to people with money but little sense of interior style; the idea being that opulence and excess makes for a great interior.

I believe we are entwined with the spaces in which we live, work and play. Showy people might want showy interiors. Quiet people might want conservative interiors. From my point of view the emphasis is on might. A good interior designer will want to genuinely understand the individual and help them to think about what it is they really want, not just go for the easy option. Yes for some people it will still be showy or it will still be conservative, but for others my aspiration is they will begin to open up to the possibilities of real aesthetic design. They will then have a space that will endure and mature, whilst complementing the qualities of their surroundings.

The following images show what I consider to be aesthetic modern exteriors with poorly designed interiors. What are your thoughts?

Levels House (main image and interior below)

Dune House

NEO Bankside

Prutting Townhouse

Casa no Geres

One Hyde Park

Photo credits:

Top image and 1; 2 and 3; 4 and 5; 6 and 7; 8 and 9; 10 and 11.