March 8, 2009

Zen Design Inspirations

When thinking of interior design, one usually sees spaces full of color and pattern, abundant with detail. Popular shelter magazines flood us with beautiful pictures of opulent, highly-decorative rooms, with a lot of decorative elements and furnishings, many layers of luxurious fabrics, and carefully placed objects. On the other side of the spectrum, we have a minimalistic design with simple, clean lines, ascetic spaces, minimal or no ornamentation whatsoever, interplay of textures and materials, and sparse use of color.

Not everyone has the opportunity of working with a designer, and even those who relay on the professional expertise, sometimes choose to replicate those magazine styles to the point. However, we need to keep in mind that in order to produce a personalized interior that is infused with our own style, we have to look beyond the universally given advice. Look for inspiration in other aspects of your life: nature, art, design of everyday objects, even religion and philosophy.

My own inspirations often come from unexpected places. Being interested in the psychology of the space, I realized that many objectives of a great interior design can be accomplished by complying to the aesthetic concepts of Zen philosophy. But this doesn't mean you have to become Buddhist to benefit from it! It only requires approaching each and every space based of the following values:
  • simplicity - achieve beauty and visual elegance by elimination and omission; try find the balance between "too much" and "too simple"
  • naturalness - creative restraint in use of elaborate designs
  • elegance - in the understated sense
  • unexpectedness - surprise will get more interest
  • concreteness - eliminating of non-essential objects
  • emotion - makes your space evoke strong positive feelings
  • use of negative (empty) space - to gain more focus on the feature element
  • suggestive rather than descriptive design - introducing to the interior one element at the time to culminate with a focal point (It is called "telling the story". This is my personal favorite, often used in my designs).

To try this stunning new approach, read Living with Zen by Ou Baholyodhin. Return often to this blog; I will relate to the Zen aesthetic concepts in my Deconstructing: Room-by-Room series.


And remember:
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" -Leonardo da Vinci




March 4, 2009

Dressing Windows


Window coverings change like a fashion; what you see on the runway will show up shortly in the home decor magazines. The newest fabric designs for the home follow the trends from the best haute couture collections. The accessories (trims) follow the lead. Decorative hardware goes hand-in-hand with the soft treatments, and like the best jewelry creates the signature look.


So here's what is in for this year, as seen at Heimtextil in Frankfurt:

  1. natural look: colors and textures inspired by nature (man-made animal skin, hair, fur and feathers), combined with vintage and recycled fabrics
  2. highly decorative patterns, embellished or embroidered, based on decorative art from deco to nouveau, showing intricate detailing and patina
  3. bold color combinations inspired by energetic '70s and '80s colors (oranges, pinks, yellows with green, blue and black)
  4. combining geometric motives with bold florals
  5. structurally designed fabrics: pleating, padding, layering and folding that create an illusion of mass and bulk
  6. metals, stones, glass, and architectural influences, visible mainly in trims and hardware (tassels, beading, finials etc.)
Layering of window treatments is another trend, this time not only for aesthetic reasons, but also for energy efficiency. Multiple layers provide flexibility in controlling light, privacy and heat loss or gain.

Still, as you see on the picture above, some windows or views are too great to be covered; better leave them uncovered, making sure they're energy-efficient (Low-E).



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