Hidden in plain sight, ceilings are often the final surface interior designers and architects think about, but the expansive plane of unobstructed plaster or concrete offers mar more creative freedom than we realize. Modern design rules demand that the ceiling is kept clean. Not with a telescopic mop attachment, but by stripping off the popcorn spray, wood-chip wallpaper, or plaster patterning that haunt my own memories of ceilings-past.
While many clients greet this contemporary need for clean lines with acquiescence, choosing smooth, skimmed plaster finishes with unobtrusive yet forgetful recessed spots, other bolder clients recognize the ceiling’s potential for the creative outlet it is.
Glass is one of the most important discoveries of mankind. Originally used as a cutting tool, it has been around for about 75,000 years. The first records of glass making, however, date back to the Egyptian and Mesopotamian. Since then, the mastery of the manufacturing technique has been developing in different civilizations and nations until the Industrial Revolution popularized the material and allowed its production on a large scale. In architecture, glass was first used as a sealing element around 100 AD.
As trivial as the act of flipping a switch and lighting up a room may seem, we've had to come a long way to have safe and reliable light sources. It is estimated that the first lamps were invented 70,000 years ago, consisting of hollowed out stones or shells filled with an absorbent material soaked with animal fat that could be ignited. The Egyptians, on the other hand, used decorated ceramic vessels filled with oil, which provided a constant flame. Candles were popularized during the Middle Ages, made of tallow (animal fat) or beeswax, and could be burned in simple candlesticks and chandeliers. It was in the late 19th century that Thomas Edison and his team invented an incandescent light bulb that could be mass manufactured and was economically viable, soon becoming the dominant form of lighting for much of the 20th century. Although it was a revolutionary invention at the time, we are now aware that these lightbulbs are not very efficient, and they were eventually replaced by fluorescent and, more recently, LED bulbs. But if we have already advanced so much in such a short time, what can we expect for the future of lighting, and more specifically, how will our interiors be lit in a few years or decades?
Research by the Science Museum Group based on objects from different periods of UK history shows how their colors have transformed over time, leaving vibrant tones behind and becoming grayer every day.
Cat Sleeman examined more than seven thousand photographs of everyday objects from the Science Museum Group Collection in research funded by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Center (PEC). From cameras to lamps and other household objects, they were organized into 21 different categories according to their use. The analysis was carried out based on counting pixels of different colors and also addressed the shape of the objects.
The bed, as an indispensable element, is an essential consideration in these experiments. Its functions can be fulfilled without completely losing the valuable space it occupies, and the bedroom experience can be enriched with careful thought. How can we reinvent and take advantage of the opportunities of the traditional bed?
Every day, architects and designers tackle an ambitious task: crafting spaces that not only captivate the eye but that also nurture the health and well-being of those who inhabit them. A key part of this mission involves implementing design strategies that foster a pleasant indoor climate, as temperature, humidity and air quality all have a significant impact on users’ mood, productivity and overall health. Humans simply operate better if they are comfortable and content in their home or working environment. Although air-conditioning, ventilation and heating systems have conventionally served as popular solutions to regulate indoor climate, they often carry with them undesirable consequences –the presence of dust and bacteria, the need for regular maintenance and a cluttered, unappealing look. There is, however, an alternative solution.
The transformation in the domestic spaces’ dynamics impacts the architecture inside and outside houses and apartments. Kitchens are the prime example of this transformation. Historically considered marginalized workspaces, they have gained more prominence as architectural spaces. This influences not only the size of the rooms and their organization but also the used claddings.
“Our planet is choking in plastic,” states the United Nations. While the man-made material has many valuable uses, our addiction to single-use plastic products has led to severe economic, health and environmental issues. Roughly one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, and five trillion plastic bags are used every year worldwide –used just once, then thrown away. Plastics and microplastics have found their way into every corner of our natural environment, from the peaks of the highest mountains to the depths of the deepest oceans. So much so, that they have become part of the Earth’s fossil record and created an entirely new marine microbial habitat known as the “plastisphere.”
Ceilings were once a symbol of grandeur and opulence, adorning grand buildings, churches and palaces with their intricate and elaborate designs. We still find ourselves looking up in awe at these mesmerizing historical buildings, with our eyes drawn to their magnificent vaulted ceilings, remarkable truss structures or distinctive works of art depicting mythology, historical events and landscapes. Contemporary design, on the other hand, has shifted towards a sleek, minimalistic aesthetic; one where plain white ceilings have become the norm in most modern buildings. As Rasmus Wærn and Gert Wingårdh suggest in their book What is Architecture? And 100 Other Questions, “Ceilings have devolved from being the focal point of a room to being a zone for mechanical equipment.” And yet they have extraordinary creative potential.
One of the most common decorative objects in projects, mirrors have existed since the Badarian civilization, around 4,000 BC. With several transformations in its material and manufacture, the mirror is a decorative object and can also serve as a design strategy.
When one steps into a Starbucks, they almost instantly know they are in the famed coffeehouse, and not at a McDonald's. Apart from the uniformed staff and a giant sign at the door, there are countless other factors that make a Starbucks look like a Starbucks. Textures, materials, shapes, colors, layouts, furniture, and lighting all contribute to the experience of being in a branded environment. These elements are replicated globally to create an identifiable image. As economic patterns change, brands are looking at extending their identities into spatial experiences in order to better engage with their customers in their daily lives.
When children first learn to draw a house, there are four basic components they illustrate: a wall, a pitched roof, a door and one or more windows. Along with the common structural elements, windows have always been considered to be indispensable architectural features for their multiple functions. While providing views, daylight and natural ventilation, these insulate from cold and heat, protect from external threats and enhance a facade’s appearance. They are also associated with a strong poetic or symbolic value; it is through them that we are able to connect with and enjoy our surroundings, be it a beautiful natural landscape or a dense urban environment. An expressive part of any building, windows serve as a visual bridge between the inside and outside, acting somewhat as a refreshing escape from our everyday routine.
The first image that comes to mind when we think of an office is a place with a table and chair. But it was not always the case. In the Middle Ages, monasteries were the main places for study and knowledge, with private rooms designed to help monks concentrate when researching. However, records state that such spaces were uncomfortable since scholars remained standing most of the time.
The traditional architecture of the past can sometimes seem a long way from the modern, open-plan environments we enjoy today. But while some seemingly bygone upper-class room typologies like parlors, drawing rooms, and smoking rooms still exist by other names – dens, snugs, and man caves, to name a few – other architectural intricacies are more rarely replicated.
Back staircases, sculleries, and drying rooms, for example, were at one stage imperative for properties of a certain size and status to function. But just like a woolen jumper accidentally washed on the wrong setting, technology has reduced the size of laundry workspaces over the past century. Small homes like Under the Barao’s Sky Apartment in Sao Paolo, Brazil, for example, are now able to replace separate laundry rooms and pantries with all-in-one kitchen-diners that integrated small washing/drying appliances into an open kitchen layout, leaving more room for living.
One plant makes all the difference with its color, texture, movements, and the celebration of its flowering. The green inside the homes offers several benefits. However, besides knowing which species are easier to grow, looking for more effective ways to blend the plants with the room can enhance the spatial experience. That is why we've selected some tips for placing the vases and planters around the house (or not).
Despite the initially slow and arduous process of molding glass into shape, mankind has used the material for thousands of years. According to archaeological evidence, the first human-made glass tools and jewelry were found in Eastern Mesopotamia and Egypt around 3500BC — and after the invention of the blowpipe in Syria in the 1st century BC and the Western Industrial Revolution made mass production easier, the material's signature traits of transparency and durability could finally be applied on a large scale in architecture and design.
Fast forward to the present day, and the use of glass for building facades and windows is well documented. But what about once we move inside? By treating glass for different levels of transparency, cleverly positioning it within a room, or employing its reflective surface to their advantage, interiors can benefit just as much from the material as exteriors.
The connection between interior and exterior is one of the most desired qualities in architectural projects. Such feature appears in several architectural narratives, and it is achieved with distinction. It appears in unusual places such as bathrooms or kitchens, but it gains greater magnitude in living and meeting spaces.
In a world that increasingly demands more from us, for many people the bath goes beyond a moment of hygiene. It can give you a few minutes to relax after a long day at work and recharge your batteries. Therefore, more and more people are looking for spaces that escape the usual when it comes to bathroom design. Showering can become a pleasurable experience that allows a momentary escape from everyday tasks, as the projects selected below can demonstrate.