Designing interior environment – Mary Jean Alexander


” Space is a resource, to be treated thoughtfully and with care and respect. In earlier days it was treated as a by – product of the organization of enclosing solids. Today space can be given its rightful meaning and significance in a structure, equal in importance to the solids. Frank Lloyd Wright considered space intrinsic to an interior – the resource that provided for human use, the like that would go on within it. This is very basic concern for the human use of space is still too often ignored in the designing of interiors.

The growing interest in interior environment of the past forty years has brought the interior designer to a point where he is deeply concerned with the many complicated problems tha arise in creating spaces that satisfy equally the functional, esthetics, and even the spiritual needs of ‘man’. In planning an interior environment, a person will relate t the space in which he spends his time.”

pg 4

“Architects began to design structures on the basis of manipulating space, so that the surrounding solids now were determined by the solution to spatial problems, and the structure became a composition of enclosure and openness.”

pg 5

“Although many architects accept this new design concept, most interior decorators neither understood nor approve of it. They continue to think of their role in terms of a room, with walls, doors, Windows, and architectural elements, to be made comfortable and decorated appropriately. As the discipline has advanced interior designers have come to apply this concept and other ne theories in their design. The long-standing gulf between the so-called traditionalists and the proponents of modern design is disappearing, partly due to increase of collaboration between architect and interior designer: design has moved ahead, and contemporary and traditional – oriented designers, borrowing from one another, have moved closer together.”

pg 11

“The Renaissance – Where Gothic architecture had been vertical and soaring, Renaissance buildings emphasized the horizontal in their facades. Renaissance architecture is characterized by calculated simplicity, achieved through clarity of form, geometric harmony, refinement of detail and linear outlining of the points.

pg 12

” Baroque and Rococo – Baroque period, roughly from the early sixteenth to mid eighteenth century……….

In a Baroque environment, many different arts were combined to create a harmonious whole, with an emphasis on curves of great variety, and a strong feeling of movement. Form and applied ornament – simulated draperies and scrolls, cherubs, and many to gather with an exciting and sometimes unexpected interplay of farces.

Domestic interiors were furnished with impressive magnificence, and the visual effect was considered more important than comfort. Marble was a favourite material, and were not available, was simulated with paint on wood or plaster. Brilliant colours were popular.

The Rococo, an early eighteenth century out growth of the Baroque in Italy, was similar, equally complex, but less powerful, more delicate, and smaller and lighter in scale. Ornament, such as foliage, shells, flowers, and scrolls, was used profusely, both in architecture and on furniture, and little attempt made to relate them to the structure beneath. All geometric forms were abandoned; even circles were modified into ovals.”

pg 19

” In England – Georgian – The Georgian period (1714-1812) covers almost a century as well as the reigns of three kings George I, II and III- and parallels those os louisXV and XVI and the empire in France. There was a decided difference between the early and the late styles. After th death of Queen Anne, the mahogany furniture began tobe heavier and more ornate. Design was influenced by some of the outstanding architects, Inigo Jones and Sir Christopher when, for example, and classical architectural elements, such as pilasters and columns, were incorporated into furniture and interiors were simpler and smaller in scale. At the end of the period they had become classical and delicate, showing the greek and Pompeian influence. Satinwood became very popular during the latter part of the period.”

pg 23

” Regency The period of the English Regency (1810-1820)…..walls were mainly plaster, with many pilasters and pediments, usually in a colour contrasting with the background, providing strong value contrasts and silhouettes that emphasized the design. Light earthquakes or soft greens against rich browns and deep greens, as well as black with gold dominated. There were comfortable upholstered  pieces and a variety of tables. Many with a tripod or pedestal base. Classical ornamental detail, often in ormolu or bass, ebony, and lacquer were common; as were all over leaf and lower patterns in carpets. Windows were hung with elaborate curtains of velvets, satins, and damasks in brilliant colours with many swags and much fringe, stripes were popular.”

pg 23

“Victorian – The Victorian period (1837-1901) produced no genuine style. There were many movements, but no strong leadership, and Queen Victoria had little interest in design. The early designs  were adapted from Regency style, but in such a way as to be scarcely recognizable; later designs were adapted from the Turkish, Gothic, Venetian, and Egyptian. Chairs has fairly low seats and high backs. Upholstery was tufted, buttoned, corded, and draped. Curtains were heavy and elaborate. Everything was decorated – with inlay, paint,gilt, fringe, feathers, artificial flowers, mother of pearl. The effect was usually overdone and confused, with little unity. Historically, Victorian building has little significance, but some of it was both interesting and ingenious. The period saw the beginning of industrialism an mas production.”

pg 25

” Art nouveau – Another style started in the 1890’s. With a house in Brussels designed by Victor Horta and spread over most of eastern Europe. Called Art nouveau, it was a protest against the extreme electism and the amativeness of traditional design. Based on he idea that the forms of nature were a more valid source of inspiration than any classical forms, it made use of new materials, especially iron, and its organic, structural curves were covered with naturalistic decoration that was flowing, linear, and asymmetrical. As a style it lasted less than three decades, partly because it has little relation to architecture. It served the purpose of clearing away fr a genuinely contemporary expression. Its influence remains, providing inspiration for many designers today.”

pg 39

“To design is to create an arrangement of parts that gives order and tangible expression to an idea,”

pg 44

” Design principles – There can be no interior without space. There may never be complete agreement about the conception of space, but it is the first requisite for any interior. Actual space, in terms of interior design, can be defined as te area to be organized within enclosing forms. Visual space is apparent or sensed space and may include reflections in mirrors and areas beyond any transparent enclosures. The architect usually determines the forms that solve the spatial solution. For best results the architect and the interior designer work together from the beginning of the planning process. The design for the space should be based on an underlying concept, a central idea developed int a scheme according to which colour and all the either element are combined with the necessary furnishings to create an integrated whole.”

pg 44

” Unity, oneness, a totality of related parts, is absolutely essential to succesful design. The principles of unity encompasses all the other principles of design. It is achieved by choosing and arranging parts, both space and object, tha produce a ordely and esthetically pleasing whole.

In evaluating the unity of an interior, these questions can be asked

.1- Is the treatment consistent with the basic idea? ( if it is elegant in character, for example, do the materials and arrangement support this feeling?)

.2- Are too many materials or colours used?

.3- Does all the design, in properly varying degrees of strength, give support to the basic idea?

.4 – Is there sufficient variety to assure and interesting composition without interfering with the harmony?

pg 45

” Line – In the design of interior space for environment,line is so taken for granted that it affects is sometimes overlooked….

A line is versatile and can define or limit shape, divide areas, suggest movement.speed, or direction…

In an interior, straight lines – vertical, horizontal or diagonal – give a feeling of strength and severity. Vertical lines tend to be strongest and have a structural feeling, suggesting the vertical supports used in buildings… Horizontal lines are less strong than vertical lines, and are fundamentally more restful.


About hannahruthkellett

I am currently doing my Masters in interior design, this blog is to reflect and inspire my progress through out my time on the course. View all posts by hannahruthkellett

3 responses to “Designing interior environment – Mary Jean Alexander

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