Monthly Archives: May 2012

A to Z of Interior Design: D is for…


Deconstructivism is a type of architectural style, which unlike conventional architecture, breaks all the rules of construction theory. Developed in late 1980’s, deconstructivism was started by a group of architects known as the deconstructivists, who were impressed and influenced by the thinking and principles of French Philosopher Jacques Derrida.

According to the deconstructivism style, a building is designed in parts. The architecture seems as if it is done in bits and pieces, in a haphazard manner, without any importance given to logic or architecture norms. A building constructed by deconstructivism style reflects discordant pieces joined together to form unrelated abstract forms.

Deconstructivism focuses on changing the conventional rectilinear lines of a normal architectural building into non-rectilinear lines, transforming the external features of the building into distorted shapes and fragmented features.

Deconstructivism theory can also be applied to interior design, for examples and inspiration look at iconoclastic architectural design by the likes of Zaha Hadid, Bernard Tschumi, Peter Eisenman, Morphosis, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, and Frank Gehry.

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A to Z of Interior Design: C is for…


A piece of furniture consisting of a seat, legs, back, and often arms, designed to accommodate one person.

Furniture design is defined as fashioning goods for seating or storage from raw materials. Within this broad definition, humans have been designing furniture since they first placed rocks near the fire pit for the express purpose of sitting.

Design by definition, though, implies the creation of an object that is not only functional but aesthetically pleasing. The concept of form follows function is a mantra among furniture designers, and for good reason. The rock can function as seating, but it is the form that ultimately turns function into comfort.

Few objects tell the history of modern design as eloquently as the chair. Aesthetics trends, the emergence of new technologies, ergonomics, social and cultural developments are all reflected in the evolution of chair design.

Chair design considers intended usage, ergonomics (how comfortable it is for the occupant), as well as non-ergonomic functional requirements such as size, stackability, foldability, weight, durability, stain resistance and artistic design. Intended usage determines the desired seating position.

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Interior design competition open to all undergraduates

The National Design Academy and Staffordshire University are delighted to launch a student competition for International Decorative Surfaces (IDS) to put forward interior and exterior design ideas for a new IDS Head Office in a prominent location in Stoke on Trent.

The competition is aimed at undergraduates with a view to kick-starting their design career. The winner will not only receive £1000 but will also be invited to join IDS at 100% Design and meet and be mentored by some of the UK’s leading composite material manufacturers.

IDS are the UK’s largest distributor of decorative surfaces and, as a forward thinking business, want to increase links with education in this important area of the UK construction market. An exhibition area within the reception of the building will be utilised to showcase students’ work.

The competition launches on 14th May 2012 and all submissions must be received by post by midnight 31st August 2012. Entrants should submit a selection of presentation boards from their chosen categories. Competition entry is entirely free and an application form can be filled out online from a dedicated competition webpage on the NDA website:

For over 23 years the National Design Academy has been a Centre of Excellence for Interior Design. It is the largest provider of nationally accredited Interior Design courses in the UK, both in studio and by distance learning. Qualifications include Diplomas, Foundation Degrees and BA (Hons) in a range of design-related disciplines. All Degree level courses are validated and accredited by Staffordshire University.

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Grand Designs Live 2012: Part Two

This years Grand Designs Live put a lot of emphasis on garden design. Not only was the garden section huge, but it also offered free expert advice about any garden design ideas or projects you might have floating around your head. If you are interested in learning about garden design as a career or as an extra string to your interior design bow, then check out the new Diploma in Professional Garden Design by  The National Design Academy.

In part one I talked about garden pods and lodges, so I’ll continue the garden theme and cover some of the interesting items I found that you could use to adorn one.

Garden Haven Lounger – mygind design

Scandinavian design company mygind design have pulled out all the stops to bring this luxury lounger to life. Made from solid mahogany wood, hand woven in all-weather resin wicker and custom upholstered with plush cushions and pillows, these wouldn’t look out of place in a heritage setting. The lounger also folds up and becomes completely weather proof. Available as a single, double or triple seat model.

The Cole Henley Table Barbecue

This outdoor dining table and barbecue combination lets everyone cook their food how they like it, whilst all sitting together. Its well designed and insulated so only the grill gets hot. Hand built in the UK, it is available as a four, six or eight seater.

Rustic Designs Limited

It does exactly what it says on the tin, if indeed you could buy bespoke rustic garden furniture in tins.

Kingsley Smythe

Specialists in luxury teak furniture, their new chunky log table and chair set caught my eye.

Jusi Colour

Voted as one of the “Must have products” in the Grand Design Magazine, they didn’t get me all that excited, but if you are looking to add some bright LED colour (at night at least) into a garden design, then these products are the best around at the moment. They make a full range of items, including arm chairs, planters, wine coolers and cubes.

Qui est Paul?

For plasticated garden furniture that has a certain “ju ne se pai?” look no further than Que est Paul? They do a large range of extremely well designed garden furniture and accessories that will add panache to any outdoor living set up.

Personalised benches – Cut by Fire

Greetings cards are so passé, be cool and say it with a bench instead.

Stepping off the faux grass and down Designer Alley led me to a superabundance of superbly designed furniture and homewares, more so than I’d come across at any other show, and it was all in one place! So bear with me, this may be a long list…

Retrodelic Designs

As they put it themselves: “Contemporary furniture with a retro twist”, and what a twist is is!

H & B

Fresh out of university, these two spritely furniture designers have already been making some waves with their designs. The funky looking Butterfly chair (pictured) has been commissioned and will soon be available; watch this space for details!

The pair also specialise in using boiled leather to create furniture pieces, check out the chest of drawers and stool.

Invisible city design studio – Incunabular collection

Based on the dimensions and ratios used for the international paper standard; think A3, A4, A5,  the new incunabular collection offers something a bit different. The pleasing geometrics are enhanced with delicate tones of colour and also offer very practical storage. I love the side table with it’s off centre legs.

Dare Studio

Some other off centre legs that caught my attention were on the Katakana Writing Desk by Dare Studio. Mmm sleek modernist  lines.

Sticks and Stone – Unique solid wood and stone wine racks, tables and benches

If you or your clients enjoy wine as much as I do, then having a beautiful place to store and display your collection, no matter how large or small, is a very important consideration. Sticks and Stone turn reclaimed pieces of wood and stone into gorgeous wine storage, if only I could hold onto my wine long enough to justify having one of these!

Shane Holland Design Workshops

Shane Holland Design Workshops make all sorts of stuff out of metal, wood and bits and bobs, including commercial and home furniture, stairs, sculptures and lights. But like a moth it was the lights that drew me to their stand.

Nic Parnell

If you read my report on Interiors UK you’ll recognise these lamps by reclaimed materials furniture designer Nic Parnell. I think these lamps are fantastic and they have now gone commercial so you can start specifying them for your clients! Nic also makes and reconditions other pieces of furniture, so if you are looking for something very unique and oh so colourful check out what else he has to offer. Nic’s got lots of new ideas in the pipeline so stay tuned for more news on his stuff as it happens.

Incidentally our friends at The National Design Academy interviewed one of their own students who had designed a room set for Grand Designs Live that featured one of Nic’s lamps, watch it here!

So there you have it, Grand Designs Live is the show to go to if you are looking for some creatively led inspiration. There really is something for everyone and lots of it. I only really scratched the surface with this report, there were whole areas I didn’t have time to explore, like I said, I could happily spent another day looking around, maybe two?

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Having a grand time: Grand Designs Live 2012 – Part One

This years Grand Designs Live show held at the ExCel in London’s docklands was, as you’d expect, quite grand. Out of all the shows I’ve visited recently, Grand Designs Live certainly stands out as one of the best. Its layout is easy to navigate and despite being huge, I always knew where I was thanks to a sensible layout with its central hub and four main paths, plus the overhead signs in each section telling you where you are and whats ahead.  There was a lot to see, and unlike some other shows, I could have happily spent another day there.

The main theme running throughout the show and reflected in many of the trade products being touted was  SUSTAINABILITY.  This a word used so often now that it has almost lost meaning as this comic by XKCD webcomic amusingly highlights:

However, the people behind Grand Designs Live certainly seem to be using the word sincerely.  Whole areas were dedicated to sustainable materials, with experts on hand to discuss them and give talks on their practical uses.  Another large area was dedicated to up and coming innovative products that use recycled materials and have little or no impact on the environment. On top of all this, most vendors were proudly demonstrating the ‘Eco’ properties of their products and services. I found it to be an interesting place to be where I could learn all kinds of amazing stuff about sustainable buildings and practices, but alas with a show so large and my curiosity larger I barely had enough time to take it all in.

The next big thing?

If this show is anything to go by then the ‘next big thing’ it seems is ‘Luxury Garden Buildings’, or as I like to call them ‘Fancy Sheds’. If you have a large garden and already have your house how you like it then the next stage it seems is to buy a fancy shed that can be used as a second living room, guest house, office or gym.

They generally come in two types: Pre-fab pod or larger more bespoke lodge. Here are some that stood out.

Starting at the luxurious end we have the i-hut, which isn’t much to look at from the outside, but once inside its pitch as an orginal and creative answer to second home ownership becomes clear. Think of it as a modern home in the shape of a caravan but made of wood. Because it is caravan sized it can be located on land that has planning permission for one, so your  site options are massive.

The other luxury shed I came across was the ecoPerch by Blue Forest who specialise in building grandiose bespoke tree houses and eco lodges. The ecoPerch is their attempt to create a pre-fab lodge that can be installed in five days, and again is suitable for caravan sites. It has a more aesthetically pleasing external look than the i-hut, but it dosen’t make as much economical use of the internal space.

If something a little smaller and less home like is what you seek, then the Armadilla may be more suitable, certainly if you plan to create a useful extra space in your garden.

For something all together a little more odd looking, the more eccentric of you might get more pleasure from the Let’s Live Our Lives (LOL) Pod. It looks like a toadstool.

Another interestingly shaped garden pod is the more honestly named Tetra Shed. Whilst on its own it resembles a bizarre geometric shape, inside it is designed to be the perfect outdoor office. It’s modular too, so you can link up to five of them together if you need more space.

For a regular shaped, well insulated and bespoke garden office or lodge I found Vividgreen were the people to talk to.

There is lots more to come in part two of my Grand Designs Live review including the latest in outdoor living and cutting edge interiors, stay tuned!


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