Designer – Alvar Aalto

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Alvar Aalto was a Finnish sculptor, painter, designer and architect. At the start of his career in the 1920s his style was focused on ‘Nordic Classicism’. This changed to a more international modern style in the 1930s and continued towards a modernist style till the end of his career in the 1970s.

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Alvar Aalto stool, model E60, designed in 1933. Paimio lounge chair, beech plywood, birch, designed in 1932.

The design style of the furniture by Aalto was considered to be ‘Scandinavian Modern’. His designs were pieces that were simplistic, modern and functional.

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Aalto was concerned with making buildings that are a ‘total work of art’. He would not only design the building but the interiors, the light fixtures and the furniture. The buildings Aalto designed continued to have hints towards the Scandinavian style seen in his furniture and early work.

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“God created paper for the purpose of drawing architecture on it. Everything else is at least for me an abuse of paper.” Alvar Aalto, Sketches, 1978, P.104

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Designers – Ray and Charles Eames


Power couple Ray and Charles Eames brought so much to the world of design. Their designs are continuously  produced and sold in high demand around the world. With Vitra, the company that produces the products, adding items that have been discontinued and mixing up the products available.

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The images in this post have been taken from the book Vitra.Eames a book first published in 1996 that looks at the designs and ideas behind the furniture. Vitra is the company responsible for working with Ray and Charles to produce the vast collection of furniture.

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The Vitra-Eames collaboration started in 1953 and continued till Charles’ death. After which the completion of the final design was carried out by working closely with Ray.  The Vitra Design Museum contains the largest collection of Eames designs and prototypes in the world.

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Ray and Charles were interested in the ability to make hard materials (such as plywood) reflect the soft curves of the human figure. They responded to physical needs, drawing inspiration from nature and organic imagery.

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Ray and Charles had a fascination with material and technology. Their designs are still in want and style.

“Their furniture is not timeless: to label it so would erase its rightful place in history. These objects are from a definite time, place, and culture (mid-century, California, modern), but they are not antiques.” (Vitra.Eames, P.17)

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As a mirror to our spine the chairs within the aluminium group have a metal skeleton that supports the leather or fabric. “The subtly modulated profiles of the die-cast aluminium spines maximise the chair’s strength and lightness, merging sculpture with engineering.” (P.31)

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“A network of welded steel strands forms a curved surface, supported by a base of tubular steel. The generous spacing of the wire results in a chair that is remarkably light- both visually and physically.” (p.106)

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Gaston Lachaise’s sculpture Floating Figure was an inspiration for this piece. Charles and Ray designed this in 1948 for a Museum of Modern Art competition, La Chaise was not manufactured by Vitra until 1991.

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Vitra still ask themselves when they are making important design decisions: What would Charles and Ray do?

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Interior Designer – Albert Hadley

“Flair is a primitive kind of style. It is innate and cannot be taught. It can be polished and refined. When a person has flair, a grounding in the principle of design, and self-discipline, that person has the potential of being an outstanding designer.” – Albert Hadley.


   Interior designer Albert Hadley believed and put into practice that a room cannot become homely, tasteful or enjoyed until the architecture is correct and as desired.

“A good decorator not only plans and schemes, but he also knows how the job is done.” – Albert Hadley


-Blue Room Presentation Drawing-

He would start a project by structurally sorting out a space. Moving doors to line up with windows, straightening out the room and getting a perfect canvas for his designs.

“Ceilings must always be considered. They are the most neglected surface in a room.” – Albert Hadley.


-Drawing Room and French Chandelier-

Hadley believed that an interior should be friendly and comfortable, but it should also be ‘fused with unexpected flair.

“Design is defined by light and shade, and appropriate lightning is enormously important.” – Albert Hadley.

“Forget the floor plans. Arrange the furniture where it is the most comfortable and will look best.” – Albert Hadley.


Spending more than 70 years as an interior designer Hadley never tired of his craft and never ran out of fresh ideas.

“A lot of people worry about the ‘wear and tear’ of furnishings. I feel its more a matter of people treating the things that surround them with respect.” – Albert Hadley.


His sketches are beautiful even out of context. He was an interior designer, an artist and an illustrator.

“[an interior designer] must be able to clarify his intent keeping in mind that decorating is not a look, it’s a point of view.” – Albert Hadley.

“To create an interior, the designer must develop an overall concept and stick to it.” – Albert Hadley.


His quotes aren’t too shabby either.

“The essence of interior design will always be about people and how they live. It is about the realities of what makes for an attractive, civilised, meaningful environment, not about fashion or what’s in or what’s out. This is not an easy job.” – Albert Hadley.


-Albert Hadley’s Inspiration Board-

“Make your home as comfortable and attractive as possible and then get on with living. There’s more to life than decorating.” – Albert Hadley.

“Decorating is not about making stage sets, it’s not about making pretty pictures for the magazines; it’s really about creating a quality of life, a beauty that nourishes the soul.” – Albert Hadley.

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Design Articles You Should Read

Here are a few articles, books and videos on design that we have found useful and think you will too.

1 – Article on Norman Foster’s designs for the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida.

This article was the inspiration for a previous blog post. The way that the buildings and the area has been described and how this has influenced his designs is sort of magical. “The quality of the Florida light, the wonderful lush landscape and tropical plants, the extraordinary evergreen hedges that tower above you, the relationship with the water and the warmth of the people”

2 – The TED talk by Chip Kidd on book design.

Look past his glasses and his odd sense of humour and the man speaks a lot of sense. It is an interesting insight into the idea of judging a book by a cover and how the good books draw you in. And of course this can relate to all other aspects of design.

3 – Design disconnect – Wallpaper* Magazine

We couldn’t find an online link to this one so heres a photo of the article. All about how technology and furniture haven’t yet got along.


4 – Design as Art, Bruno Munari – Book

This little book informs and questions theories of design and its relation to art. Defiantly worth a read. Although you will have to buy it! Here is a link to an article on the book, also worth the read!

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The Breakers, Palm Beach, FL.

This Easter we spent our time exploring the interior wonders of West Palm Beach Florida.

Here is one of the places we visited.. a few times…

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida.


First opened in January 1896, The Breakers is a historic hotel with ball rooms, conference rooms and a few amazing restaurants.

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The Mediterranean Ballroom with its own courtyard. The pale pink detailing with the painted cloud ceiling give this room a princess feel. The wall of windows flood the room with light and the door leads to a courtyard in the centre of the hotel full of seating and flora.


Linking to the Mediterranean Ballroom is the Venetian Ballroom. The wall of windows in this room has a great view of the Atlantic Ocean.


The Gold Room… You can see why.


The Circle. This is where they hold the brunch, one of the most renowned in South Florida. Check out the massive concave hand painted ceiling.


The Seafood Bar. Sit at the fish tank bars and watch the sea whilst sipping on a cocktail.

The Breakers is definitely worth a visit!

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Architect: Oscar Niemeyer


Oscar Niemeyer was a Brazilian architect whose works are considered key in the development of modern architecture. His explorations into the decorative potential of reinforced concrete was influential and innovative. Niemeyer was a key designer for the planned city Brasilia that became Brazil’s capital in 1960.

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The Cathedral, Brasilia. Stair case Brasilia

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As well as this work Niemeyer also worked on a range of other buildings that incorporate these clean lined, heavy and modern ideas. One of these is the International Cultural Centre in Aviles, Spain. A building that incorporates curves, lines and differing heights.

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International Cultural Centre in Aviles, Asturias, Spain, inaugurated 2011.

His buildings are beautifully modern and solid in structure. His style is distinctive and recognisable.

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Oscar Niemeyer Museum, Curitiba, Brazil. Mondadori palace by oscar niemeyer in Milan, Italy.


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National Museum in Brasilia by Oscar Niemeyer. Oscar Niemeyer Round building.

Not only did Niemeyer design these spectacular buildings, he also worked with pattern and design to create various colourful, and black and white, patterned tiles. He worked with many colours, mainly blue and used shapes and lines to create tiles that can be put together in various layouts to create varying patterns.

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These are but a few of his designs, he was pretty great at what he did. Truly inspirational.


This mural was painted in his memory in Brazil in 2013 by Eduardo Kobra.

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Daniel Libeskind
Architectural Drawings by Daniel Libeskind at Ermanno Tedeschi Gallery

Architect Daniel Libeskind started his architectural career by spending around 20 years teaching and developing his theories  and design rather than actually  design and creating any buildings.
Royal Ontario Museum Napkin Sketch


With his design of The Jewish Museum, Berlin he showed that as an architect he could turn his ideas and teachings into buildings that are renowned and innovative.
The Jewish Museum Berlin. Daniel Libeskind.

His designs are are bold and geometric with clean lines. His buildings incorporate glass, metal and other sturdy reflective materials. His style is distinctive and recognisable.

Contemporary Jewish Museum - Daniel Libeskind
Contemporary Jewish Museum – Daniel Libeskind
Felix Nussbaum Haus in Osnabrück, Germany by Architects Studio Daniel Libeskind 

 His buildings:

Jewish Museum, Berlin, “Between the lines”, Berlin, Germany, 1989 -1999

Felix Nussbaum Haus, “Museum ohne Ausgang”, Osnabreck, Germany, 1995-1999

Danish Jewish Museum, “Mitzvah”, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1996-2003

Extension to the Victoria & Albert Museum, “The Spiral”, London, England. 1996-2006

Imperial War Museum North, “Earth time”, Manchester, England, 1997 -2002

Studio Weil, Private gallery for Barbara Weil, Port d’Andratx, Mallorca, Spain, 1998-2003

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2001 by Daniel Libeskind
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2001 by Daniel Libeskind

Jewish Museum San Fransisco, “L’Chai’m: To Life”, San Francisco, CA, 1998- 2005

Maurice Wohl Convention Centre, Bar-Ilan, “The book and the wall”, Bar- Ilan University, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2000-2004

Extension to the Denver Art Museum, “The Eye and the Wing”, Denver, CO, 2000-2005

London Metropolitan University Post-Graduate Centre, “Orion”, London, England, 2001-2003

World Trade Centre Site Plan, “Memory Foundations”, New York, NY, 2002

One World Trade Center. NYC. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill/ Daniel Libeskind, David Childs. 2006-13. 1776 ft tall.
One World Trade Center. NYC. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill/ Daniel Libeskind, David Childs. 2006-13. 1776 ft tall
London Metropolitan University designed by Daniel Libeskind
London Metropolitan University designed by Daniel Libeskind

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5 Exhibitions to see in London

Here are some of the upcoming and current exhibitions in London that you should check out.

Spray-painted dress, No. 13, Spring/Summer 1999
Spray-painted dress, No. 13, Spring/Summer 1999

1 – Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty opening the 14th March at The Victoria and Albert Museum.

Celebrating the extraordinary creative talent of one of the most innovative designers of recent times, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty will be the first and largest retrospective of McQueen’s work to be presented in Europe.”

A look into the work of Alexander McQueen, with LFW it is the perfect time to take a look at the renowned designer.


2 – Salt and Silver: Early photography 1840 – 1860. Opened yesterday at The Tate Britain.

A look at one of the earliest forms of photography, salted paper prints. Featuring work by William Henry Fox Talbot who is thought to have found this process in 1839. These rare and fragile prints were the first stepping stone to the technological photography we know and use today.

Guy Bourdin, Hands On
Guy Bourdin, Hands On

3 – Guy Bourdin: Image Maker open now, at Somerset House.

A look at the works of fashion designer Guy Bourdin taken between 1955 and 1987. The exhibition hosts over 100 colour prints that show the distinct style of fashion photography that Bourdin brought to the genre. In this exhibition you will also see some of his black and white works that are a contrast to colour that is his reputation.


4 – Conflict, Time, Photography. Open now at The Tate Modern.

An exhibition that focuses on time and how it passes in the world of conflict. Looking at over 150 years of conflict the exhibition takes you on a journey. Each piece is ordered in the duration of time from when the event happened and when the photograph was taken. You can be looking at photographs of different events that were taken 7 months afterwards, but that actually happened 50 years apart. With different events being shown multiple times at different stages of the exhibition.

Desert Courtyard House
Desert Courtyard House, by Wendell Burnette Architects

5 – Designs of the Year 2015 at the Design Museum. Opening 25th March.

A celebration of design. Looking at work that “promotes or delivers change, enables access, extends design practice or captures the spirit of the year”. With 6 categories (Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Graphics, Product and Transport) the show offers a wealth of design ideas and inspiration. Looking at what 2015 is set to offer us in many ways.

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Architect: Norman Foster

With the first phase of  expansion of the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach starting next year we’re taking a look at the architect behind the design, Norman Foster.

Norman Foster.
Norman Foster.

English architect Norman Foster is as part of Foster + Partners one of the worlds foremost high-tech architects. From offices to museums his designs are renowned and iconic.

The Gherkin, London
The Gherkin, London
The British Museum.
The British Museum.

His use of windows to allow light and pattern into a space are seen in all his designs. The British Museum is a perfect example of how Foster uses geometric shapes to create pattern.

City Hall, London.
City Hall, London.

Talking of the designs for the Norton Spencer de Grey (Co-head of design at Foster + Partners) says:  “The quality of the Florida light, the wonderful lush landscape and tropical plants, the extraordinary evergreen hedges that tower above you, the relationship with the water and the warmth of the people – these qualities set Palm Beach apart from the rest of the world and make this a very special project to be involved in,” “We want to capitalize on these attributes to strengthen the Norton as a stimulating and dynamic cultural focus for the community.” (Source

The design brings to the museum three double height pavilions which will allow views of the intercostal, space and light. The designs feature a garden seating space that will be part shaded and have linear water features. The building is also designed to factor in the flora already in place, having space cut away for the branches of trees to comfortably stand.

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Architect: Louis Kahn

American architect Louis Kahn created a style of architecture that was grand and heavy. His monumental buildings are raw, dense and the way they have been constructed can be seen. He was inspired by DNA, geometry and ruins.

Kahn was and is known as the brick whisperer and an architect of light. His quotes still inspire and teach future designers and architects.

Louis Kahn, National Assembly in Dacca, Bangladesh. India 1962.
Louis Kahn, National Assembly in Dacca, Bangladesh. India 1962.
National Assembly of Bangladesh in Dhaka by Louis Kahn.
National Assembly of Bangladesh in Dhaka by Louis Kahn.

With the National Assembly in Dhaka you can see the heaviness in the size of the bricks. The geometric influences can also be seen in the circular gaps and the layers. A distinctive Kahn piece.

Exeter Library. Atrium. Louis Kahn. Exeter, New Hampshire, 1972
Exeter Library. Atrium. Louis Kahn. Exeter, New Hampshire, 1972

This huge atrium with circular openings exposing the shelves of books in the library, is a famous piece in Kahn’s architectural portfolio.

Louis Kahn. Salk Institute for biological studies, 1965 La Jolla.
Louis Kahn. Salk Institute for biological studies, 1965 La Jolla.
Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute for Biological Studies

The Salk institute comprises of two parallel laboratory blocks with a thin water garden running between the two. A different design from the other two examples with its square aspects rather than circular.

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