Friday, May 22, 2009

Whilst I'm on the subject ...

... of walls, let me show you these two pictures from The Decorative Thirties by Martin Battersby. They are both of rooms by the architect Oliver Hill, one his living room and the second his dining room. 

The photo above caught my eye because of its somber clarity and then on reading the caption found that the walls of polished stone are incised with stylized naked figures (barely visible in the photo, I'm afraid). How wonderful is that? 

This is Modernism designed in the 1930s by an architect who had absorbed the decorative vocabulary of Art Deco and who, in a superbly austere manner,  could combine the two.  The almost mausoleum-like quality of the room above shows how when the walls are right there is no need to use them as background. They are independent works of art in their own right. 

The second photo is of Oliver Hill's own living room, from 1938, shows Modernist architecture combined with the decorative qualities of Chinese porcelain, book-bindings, a Chinese rug, 17th century fire dogs and exotic wood.  The chimney breast is defined by white line drawings by Eric Gill (a future post) under glass.  

In both these pictures there is appreciation of space for its own sake, as if not every void has to be filled. There is rigor of choice as only the best or the most decorative will suffice and each object is allowed to stand in its own space without clutter. For example, look at the fireplace: it is allowed to be what it is, an empty firebox, and is not ditzed about with birch logs, candles or other detritus. The fireplace tools are laid across the firedogs and signaling they are not in use and beautiful enough to be the only decoration. 

It is a lesson I wish many decorators could learn - let space do what it does best and that is be empty. 

So, whilst I'm on the last post of the week and the eve of Memorial Day weekend, the start of Summer in America, let me give a recipe for ... 

... the Tom Collins.

Two ounces gin
Two tablespoons lemon juice
One tablespoon simple syrup
Soda water

You can work it out from here. 

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!  

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