Monday, 13 April 2015

Preview I-Saloni Milan

This time tomorrow I will be en route to I-Saloni in Milan , courtesy of Posh Bathing.

In terms of European design experiences it is huge. Now in its 54th year, there are over 2000 exhibitors and 200,000 sq metres of exhibition space. While on show will be areas dedicated to Classic, Modern, and Design - there are some fantastic exhibitions.

Euroluce will be interesting this year as UNESCO has announced that 2015 is International Year of Light  . I urge you to follow that link. If you have read any of my blogs you will be aware how important lighting is whether you are in a care home, living with dementia or just a teenager who finds it hard to wake up in the morning. A little link here 

In Italy is another exhibition of great interest to me. This video presentation is about presenting Italian design from craftsmanship through to modern day. My love of Arts and Crafts, materials, industrial design revolution, design, technology, products - not to mention Italian design, inauguration via Memphis Collective back in 80's. Can you tell I am excited!

Navigating your way around an exhibition is hard work on the feet and brain. However this experience only lasts for a few days. What if your work environment was challenging in space?

The Walk is an exhibit within I-Saloni .
I -Saloni press "“We should think of the workspace as a gymnasium for the mind, conceiving it as a place where relationships generate new ideas and possibilities. The office of the future should be visualised with the focus on lifestyles unfettered by convention, evolving spaces that perpetuate an endless stream of new ideas”, says architect architect architect Michele De Michele De Lucchi."
This is a thought founders of new schools should also carry in their head.

This line of thinking entirely up my street.

Ok, there's much more to see.
Furniture, marble, block colours, some new design statement furniture I love! Great lighting,

Not giving it all way, this is after all a preview :)

Thursday, 9 April 2015


An ad hoc post based on some discussions about creating great schools architecturally.

While I am keen on getting the environment right for people to live and thrive, I have witnessed the upheaval of a student while school was transformed. Not happy.

Build new schools with great infrastructure? Well do you know this is where I believe the student's environment is more concerned with people than it is with fancy facades and generous hallways.

Let's face it, 11-17 year olds live in a bubble of social interactions. If you changed the entire colour scheme in your home over a 6 month period, they wouldn't notice. What they will comment on is the change to a routine. Say you didn't have tea ready for them to eat at 6, and they came purposefully downstairs to retrieve said dish - all hell.

School is a place to learn. It's a place to explore new relationships, bond with mates. It is about finding yourself away from home.

Fundamentally schools should have great teachers, the kind you remember years later, the ones that inspired you against the odds to live that dream.

Schools are about education - that comes from the Latin ex-ducere , which means to lead out. Start with sorting out why we discourage creatives, undermine people with academic nuance, and downright decide an apprenticeship is working in a coffee shop or stacking shelves.

A beautifully designed school may create the structure that inspires, but unless teachers can fulfill that promise it's a waste of space.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Wellness through Interior Design

There's a massive forum campaigning for wellness in the built environment concentrating on developing sustainable buildings to promote the health and wellbeing of the occupants. While it would appear that this is not rocket science, the effect of the environment on individuals, it certainly is something that appears to have been something certainly not fundamentally considered hence the need for promotion.

Creating spaces that are beautiful, practical and uplifting to the soul is by no means an easy exercise.
One could reflect and suggest that at their happiest their day has been spent in a large country park, or walking by the ocean. To others these wide open spaces make them feel uncomfortable with no sense of control, and they long to be back walking the crowded streets of London.

However if we look at what the mainstream thought is regarding a person's physical, emotional, spiritual and social demands - then a few key topics can be introduced and adapted.

Whether you are hunched over a computer, cooking dinner, playing a puzzle in a care home - appropriate lighting is required. Good strong daylight without glare is obviously ideal. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD, or commonly known as winter blues) is recognised by MIND and other health professionals as causing temporary poor frames of mind. A number of lighting products now exist that mimic the effects of sunlight to help cure this form of depression. We have all either said, or heard someone exclaim "Can't believe I've gone to work in the dark, and come home and it's still dark". Possibly the extent to which more of the population remain undiagnosed is a result of mental health problems being stigmatised.
Considering the home, no one light will assist all tasks. Properly backlit mirrors in a bathroom make it easier to apply make-up. A task lamp will allow a reader to enjoy their favourite book in comfort. Mood lighting creates a softer ambiance. The "big" central light might be employed to assist finding that contact lense that has made its way to the floor. In larger spaces the lux to lumens comes into play - determining how much illumination is granted from the position of the ceiling spots.

The type of air that is in a building is crucial. Opening a window for ventilation is sometimes not the answer, particularly if you live in an area where there are many vehicles passing or if the air outside is so humid that it becomes near stifling to breathe. Air conditioning units, humidifiers, ionisers, air purifiers have all been around for sometime. I remember years ago the fad for introducing negative ions into the air to create positive effects. Where cooker extractor hoods are great for removing unwanted cooking odours or the heavy air surrounding, steam in a shower room has positive mental and physical attributes. Bathroom extractor fans ultimately remove the steam from a room to avoid damage to tiles and walls more than anything else. Still in many old homes the choice is window open- or window closed.

No one likes to hear every step the tenant upstairs makes when they walk across laminate flooring which has not been properly insulated. Likewise people in modern homes with ceramic tiles and leather sofas forget that every sound will become an echo unless there are furnishings that will absorb the sound. In a commercial environment few people would want their private conversation echoed through a public space and often resort to a whispering tone. While this problem is best addressed at construction phase, there are solutions post construction that can assist in the form of surface panels.

So perhaps it is getting the built environment correct before adding those touches that inspire us - colour, plants, art. How often when we are looking for inspiration do we turn our head to a lovely outside view, a vase of flowers or a piece of personal art.

And no, I haven't mentioned feng shui - at least not till now.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

A Guide to Wallpapering

Whether you are wallpapering an entire room or just a feature wall, here are a few pointers.

It is quite straightforward to calculate how much wallpaper is required.
  1. Measure the height of room, either from ceiling to skirting, or picture rail to skirting for full walls. Add on the pattern repeat.
  2. Now measure right round the room. Check the width of the paper, most are generally 52 cm but some specialist papers will be wider width. Divide the width of the room by the width of the paper.  Now you know how many drops are required, ie pieces of wallpaper.
  3. Look at the wallpaper roll length. If you have measured 2.9 metres from ceiling to floor and need 31 drops, and your paper is 10 metre roll length- how many 2.90 pieces can you get from roll? In this case it is only 3 full pieces. 31 divided by 3 = 10.33333. So here you need 11 rolls. Don't forget to add the pattern repeat on if there is one! Allow at least the full repeat to drop.
If your walls are uneven, wallpaper alone won’t generally disguise that. There are various grades of lining paper which should be hung width-way around room as opposed to vertically. These will even out minor imperfections.

Again, if you find your walls- especially a fireplace wall- run out, avoid stripes or very regular patterns as these will emphasise irregular walls.

Although some wallpaper can come pre-pasted, I would always recommend using an extra adhesive if your walls are prone to damp- or you live close to the seaside. You really do not want all your hard work to come peeling off so easily!
If it is a specialist paper, do follow manufacturer’s instructions and purchase the recommended adhesive. Every good decorator will tell you it is worth it in the long run.

Allowing enough wallpaper to compensate for pattern repeat will allow your decorator to pattern match around your room. But, as usual, there are always exceptions to the rule. Very expensive handblock printed papers, like Farrow and Ball, may not pattern match – nor will natural Seagrass materials.
Also advise your decorator if the wallpaper is wider width as many decorators use a standard pasting machine which may often not accommodate wider paper.

Common mistakes made by either not chalking or overlapping the paper can result in a slight spread when paper dries on wall, and a light line showing the seam of paper becomes visible! There is nothing worse than buying a really expensive paper with a dark background and seeing every join.

Lastly, check if the wallpaper is reverse rolled, if not pointed out to your decorator this could result in the paper being hung upside down! I lost count of the times a decorator would bring a roll of paper in to ask me which way up the pattern is supposed to run.