Interior Design Books – The Best of The Best

Inspiration comes in many forms. Sometimes, for visionaries like Frank Lloyd Wright, inspiration may come from something as simple as nature itself. For others it might come from years of conditioning and exposure, and the ability to notice a nuance that sparks the imagination. Designers have always seen the world through a different set of eyes and sensibilities. They can take something old and make it new again. They can position an object or color in such a way that not only makes us notice it, but makes us feel it.

During my years in the business, I’ve met a lot of people working in the interior design business at different levels. Some of them are very successful but a better salesperson than a designer. Some have talent off the Richter scale but not a nickel to their name. For some it’s a business but to a special few, it’s a passion. These are the people who inspire me.

Anyone interested in interior design deserves to surround themselves with some inspiration from their peers. We’ve all hit that wall once in a while when we are trying to put together a presentation. Our minds are drawing blanks, the deadline is bearing down on us, and we feel like there isn’t an ounce of creativity left in us. That’s the time to put my pencil down, turn off my brain and relax with a great design book and get lost in another world. Seeing pictures of some of the most beautiful rooms in the world recharges me. It gives me a fresh outlook and I no longer feel trapped by the ideas of my past.

I’ve decided to share some of my favorite books here. I’m not selling them or recommend where you buy them, but these are by far some of the best. If you have any favorites you’d like to share with me, please send me a comment. I’m always in the market for a fresh read. These are not listed in any order of preference…that can only be decided by you.

Architect and interior designer, Jose Solis Betancourt is a regular on the AD 100, Architectural Digest’s list of top designers, sometimes called the Oscars of the design world. “Essential Elegance: The Interiors of Solis Betancourt” covers 14 of his projects. These are rooms where you find refuge and comfort. His use of luxurious fabrics contrasted by his simple arrangement of furnishings and accessories create a subtle and sometimes dramatic effect.

Axel Vervoordt is a Belgium antique dealer who, along with his family, runs an 85 person design firm, a multidisciplinary center of decorative arts and crafts in the Kanaal, a complex of restored nineteenth-century warehouses and silos. His is considered to be a master of color and light. “Timeless Interiors” contains over 20 of his best projects.

Alexa Hampton’s “The Language of Interior Design” demonstrates the exposure and expertise she acquired as the daughter of interior design icon, Mark Hampton. Now regarded as one of the top interior designers of our time, she also licensed product lines from different manufacturers. Her style runs from the classic to the contemporary…each with an astonishing eye for proportion, finish and details.

“Mary McDonald Interiors: The Lure of Style” combines vintage Hollywood glamour with everyday life. She is consistently ranked one of House Beautiful’s Top 100 designers. Her personal style of layering and collections are neatly organized to add intrigue without appearing cluttered. Her combination of styles has been called many things…it needs to be seen to be appreciated.

“Victoria Hagan: Interior Portraits” is the first collection of works for this seasoned designer. First discovered by New York magazine in 1998, Victoria Hagan has become renowned for her” intelligent integration of architecture and interior design.” This is a book about an artist with interior design…relying on what’s not there as much as what you see. Her rooms are magically calm and organized, clean and crisp. This is a book you’ll pick up more than once.

“Vincent Wolf, Lifting the Curtains on Design” is his most recent release from 2010. It provides a glimpse into the mind of designer from concept to completion. His work is clean, sophisticated, and uncluttered. His palettes are weightless and his uncanny sense of using surprisingly affordable objects as focal points is refreshing. Based out of New York, his work spans the globe in both residential and commercial projects.

Also released in 2010 is David Easton’s “Timeless Elegance: The Houses of David Easton”. The book features mostly work that has been unpublished prior to this book and includes blueprints and drawings from the projects to better understand the design decisions that were made. His work is layered, classic even when doing contemporary styling and finished with tons of detail. This is a man who understands art as much as interior design and architecture. Although his clients have great means, the rooms carry an artful refuge and calmness.

Thomas Jayne’s “The Finest Rooms in America” is a collection of 50 interiors spanning the history of the United States. It includes everything from Monticello to New York loft. It’s about the best of the best in both design, periods, furnishings, accessories and fabrics. Jayne himself is an accomplished interior designer but he has chosen not to include any of his own work in this book. This is a book you will reference over and over.

I’m sure all of these books are available through your local bookstore or the like should you care to purchase any of them for yourself or someone who might really enjoy them as a gift. They will provide hours of enjoyment. You’ll probably find that if you leave them lying around on your cocktail table, your friends are likely to pick them up and get immersed in them…and probably ask to borrow them. All of them provide excellent examples of some of the finest interior design work of our time. You’ll find them to be an endless resource of ideas and inspiration. But of course, as with libraries, the collections grow and designers rise to the top. As I discover new books, I’ll be happy to share them with you.

Happy reading.

Famous Interior Designers and Their Styles in Interior Design – Part 3

Modern Interior Designers

Jean Royere Jean Royere is often considered to be one of the all time great French famous interior designers. His career spanned from 1931 to 1970 in which he opened galleries on 3 different continents for the sole purpose of exhibiting his designs. His list of clients included some of the world’s elite and royalty where he was entrusted to design the interiors of palaces and some of the most exclusives houses in the world. He was also a world redounded furniture designer and his works were displayed in various art galleries and exhibitions.

Jed Johnson Jed Johnson started his interior decoration and design company in the 1960’s from Andy Warhol’s Manhattan house. He was to undertake projects for the celebrity clients including Pierre Bergé, Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall, Richard Gere, and Barbara Streisand. In 1996 he was awarded the Interior Design Hall of Fame Award as recognition to his remarkable contribution to the profession.

Verner Panton Verner Panton is generally regarded to be the most talented Danish interior designer and furniture designer of the twenty first century. His not only characteristic of the 1960’s, they helped to define the furniture and interior decoration styles developed in the era. His work was often considered to be modern ad futuristic, utilising vivid colours and technologies of day. He was the first designer to create the ‘form-moulded chair’ which was constructed in plastic without the use of joints. He is considered to be one of the most important contributors in interior decoration and design in the 20th century.

Terence Conran Terence Conran’s contribution to architecture and interior design has enabled him to win a great number of awards. He is the founder of the highly successful ‘Habitat’ furnishing chain which grew to 36 stores in Britain France and Belgium. He also founded the Conran Design Group in 1956 and went on to establish the leading European interior design consultancy, Conran Associates. One of his most important projects was the renovation and restoration of a large historic riverside area of London. He has also authored many books on various subjects, although mostly on interior design.

Kelly Hoppen The multi award winning interior designer, Kelly Hoppen, is recognized as a modern day trend setter in the world of interior design. Her style is renowned for its individuality, simplicity and excellence where she incorporates colours and shades inspired by nature to give a luxurious timeless and simplistic ambiance. She is also a respected author on the subject, successfully publishing several best selling books. Although her designs are varied and dynamic, she is perhaps most well known for the signature ‘East Meets West’ Style.

Mauro Lipparini Italian Mauro Lipparini is another eminent interior designer. He is probably best known for his ‘natural minimalism’ style. Lipparini’s style is characterized by wonderful touches of pleasure and joy. His use of bold colors and innovative visual ideas conveys several elements of the artistic. Lipparini has made several commendable contributions to the industrial design industry, including developing products for Japanese and European firms of high repute. Accolades that he has won in the course of his career include the International Du Pont Award Koln and the Young & Designer Milano.

Ron Arad A celebrated name from the Middle East that has graced the interior design world and met the needs of the rich and famous is Israel-born Ron Arad. Ron Arad achieved popularity in the 1980’s for being a self-taught maker and designer of sculptural furniture. He is the creator of the Ron Arad Studio in Como, Italy and his works appear in many architectural and design publications across the world. He has also exhibited at a number of galleries and museums.

In Part 4 of this article – which can be accessed through the ‘Article Source’ link below – we look at the careers of celebrity interior designers including Rachel Ashwell, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Linda Barker, Nina Campbell, Tara Bernard.

New Zealand Interior Design

In terms of architecture and interior design, New Zealand is a relatively young country when you compare it to the likes of America and England. The design choices, both interior and exterior, have traditionally mirrored that of the countries where most migrants originated from – predominantly the Pacific and Europe. However, over the last few decades New Zealand has developed its own tastes and architectural design elements that blend together the built environment and the unique surrounding natural environment. To compliment this style, interior design has also changed. New Zealand has created its own style that celebrates its heritage, and combined it with modern touches and creative flamboyance.

If you look back to the first half of the 20th Century, New Zealand homes were decorated very sparsely. Traditionally interior decorating included antique furniture, floral print fabrics, fine bone china and sparsely decorated rooms. By the 1940’s state housing was predominant and interior decorating remained minimal.

Post-war immigration during 1950’s could be seen as a starting point for subtle changes to our interior design choices. New Zealand experienced a large influx of immigrants leaving post-war Europe, including architects who brought with them the principles of the ‘modern’ architectural movement. At this stage Scandinavian designs were also taking the world by storm – both for exterior design and interior wooden pieces.

The 1960’s and 1970’s saw the beginning of more Pacific influences in design. Colourful and adventurous fabrics started to make their way into New Zealand homes. These fabrics complemented the new ‘open plan’ living and ‘indoor-outdoor’ flow of homes that started to emerge during the 1970’s. At this stage New Zealand’s distinct design tastes began to emerge.

By the 1980’s there were a broad range of architectural styles available – colonial, American colonial, Cape Cod, Ranch, Swiss, Japanese and English country, Mediterranean, to name a few. As a result interior design also started to become more creative, and many consider the mid-1980’s as the coming of age of interior design in New Zealand.

Over the next three decades New Zealand homes became truly international. All designs were tried, and architects also started to construct houses to fit New Zealand’s unique environment. Homes were built to maximise sunlight with main living areas facing north, allowing more natural light. The open-plan look became the most popular with less internal walls and better flow, again taking advantage of natural light. And New Zealand’s popular pastime of entertaining around the barbecue meant the popular indoor-outdoor flow was here to stay.

As a result, interior design changed also. Over the next three decades designers mixed all the cultural influences of European and Asian migrants with Maori and Pacific design, to emerge with what has become a distinct New Zealand style. Many homes started using fabrics and patterns that mixed outdoor elements with indoor décor colours. Interior designers combined different patterns and textures to bring homes to life.

Now you will find a mix of interior design choices in New Zealand homes. Floral, stripes, Maori koru and weaves, earthy tones and bright pacific colours all cleverly blended together to create a unique style. As well as the popular Pacific theme, many modern homes combine classic or antique pieces with modern décor, and retro interiors are also currently in vogue. Fabrics range from classic linen, cotton, and silk to new fabrics such as bamboo, merino and possum fur (sourced in New Zealand).

This comfortable blend of Pacific, Asian and European styles celebrates New Zealand’s cultural heritage. Combined with modern touches and creative flamboyance, New Zealand has truly created its own unique architecture and interior design.

Designing For Life – Architecture and Design Psychology

Design psychology is the use of psychology as the fundamental principle for design decisions in architecture and interior design. Cultural patterns of architecture reveal many fundamental principles of design psychology. A group of architects led by Christopher Alexander compiled what they learned about architecture around the world into a book called A Pattern Language (1977, Oxford University Press). This book discusses virtually every aspect of buildings including entrances, windows, hallways, fireplaces, kitchens, sleeping areas, home offices and workshops, walls, and storage spaces.

The research done by these architects revealed the need for people of all cultures to feel safe and nurtured in their homes, neighborhoods and towns. Simple patterns for positive environments included things like designing rooms to have light coming in from at least two sides and more than one entrance or exit if possible. Our eyes are built to handle visual processing with multiple light sources rather than a light from a single direction. This makes seeing more difficult in environments where light is coming from only one direction. In addition, we have an instinctual need for an escape route and recoil psychologically when confronted with cave-like rooms where we may feel trapped.

A closely related field to design psychology is proxemics, the study of cultural differences in personal boundaries and space requirements. Proxemics is intimately connected to design psychology and the placement of physical dividers such as doors and walls. In offices and homes alike, a social order is established by proximity. The offices that are the most distant from the waiting room and closest to the boss are for the most important staff members. Likewise, master bedrooms are usually the most distant from shared spaces such as entryways and living rooms. The rooms closest to the kitchen, family room and gathering areas are for those lowest on the totem pole, usually the children.

Proxemics also has much to do with issues of privacy. Those who have important activities and conversations to engage in need to have their space. When material dividers aren’t available, visual and auditory clues can serve to define boundaries. Signs, frosted glass, bells and intercoms can serve to separate places where others are welcome and places where they must have permission to enter.

Design psychology and feng shui share many principles. Although the two approaches often come to the same conclusions, they differ in their foundations. Feng shui practice generally relies on a combination of tradition and intuition and design psychology generally relies on a research model. It could be argued that feng shui is a right-brain approach and design psychology is a left-brain approach. Perhaps a combination of these approaches with equal measures of common sense and practicality will yield the best solutions for architectural environments that meet both the basic and higher needs of their inhabitants.