Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Natural Wonders & The Alhambra

The switch from admiring man created design to the admiration of the natural world happen toward the end of the grand tour era. The pilgrims flocked to the spectacular cave on Antiparos Island and the Sea of Ice in the Alps.
When the camera spanned the magnificent formations in the cave I thought of a statement made by the great artist Cezanne; ‘I proceed to a logical development of what I see in nature’ I also thought of the brilliant interior spaces of the Alhambra Palace (Citadel) in Granada Spain. The palace was built in the 13 hundreds by the Moors.

You can find information and images of the Alhambra Palace at

You can hopefully see what I mean by the images in this blog.

The main feature of Moorish architecture is the horseshoe-shaped arch. Later the shaped changed to become slightly pointed at the top. This shape in turn developed into other forms such as the poly-lobed arch which is made up of a number of smaller arches. The detailed architecture and decoration reminds me of the cave on Antiparos.   

I must admit the Gothic architecture in the Victorian era is not too my taste. I prefer the classical styles. However I can appreciate some of the enchanting designs of the Victorian era.  

When Kevin mentioned William Turner I did wonder off. I just love Turners work. He certainly was ahead of his time. His wonderful misty atmospheric paintings did inspire many later artists.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Classical Greek buildings and Golden Daffodils

What a great end to the Grand Tour. Lots of memories tumbled through my brain as I watched Kevin on his last adventure of his grand tour. I have this terrible habit of finding a song in everything. In the middle of a TV show or a conversation a song will pop into my head. For example when someone says time to go home I start to sing the theme song from Andy Pandy the old TV show ‘Time to go home time to go home Andy is waving goodbye…’ Then the song will get stuck in my head and I can’t help but sing it.

Golden Daffodils
When Kevin mentioned William Wordsworth I could not get his poem ‘I wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ out of my head. The only problem was I could not remember all the words. So I then had to go and find the words. It can be so easy to get wonderfully distracted.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud (first verse only)

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

William Wordsworth

Classical Greek Buildings
Straight lines dominate the post and lintel constructed Greek buildings. The entablature contains the cornice, frieze and architrave. Columns are made up of the capital, the shaft and the base. The Greeks followed strict mathematical rules. All the measurements used by the architects such as the height of a column were expressed in multiples of the diameter at the base of the shaft.

Each order had rules concerning the size of the component parts. The Doric column is between four and six times the diameter of its base. The height of the Ionic column is nine times the diameter of its base. The Corinthian column is ten times the diameter of its base.

I was amazed years ago to discover Greek buildings had originally been brightly coloured.

I wonder how all the copies of the Classical Greek style of buildings around the world would have been interpreted if the colours used for the original buildings had been known. What do you think?

Will finish the discussion on Kevin’s Grand Tour in the next blog

Friday, March 26, 2010

Design Life Audit

Do you need to do an audit of your design life?

Interior design has become a trendy profession. Students often comment about how much more is involved in interior design than they originally thought. Although it can appear glamorous, it takes hard work and long hours to succeed.

‘Intelligent people are always open to new ideas’ 
Proverbs 18:15

I was amazed when I looked through the list of interior designers in the yellow pages in the major cities of Australia to see how many designers are listed. When I first started out in the 1980’s the lists were much shorter.

To succeed in interior design these days’ designers need to be many things. Besides having creative and organizational skills there are a number of things a designer needs to be and things they can do to stay ahead of the game. More than ever interior designers need to be aware and adaptable.

Designers need
• Creativity
• Organizational abilities
• Technological expertise
• To be a team player
• To have time management skills
• People skills
• Selling skills
• To be adaptable
• To be flexible
And the list goes on……

Work out your niche
It is important to work out your niche in the market place. To do this you need to know your strengths and weakness. Target your business to your strengths. This may appear obvious but sometimes we struggle along trying to fulfill the many roles involved in interior design practice. It pays to do an audit of our design life every few years. Ask the hard questions. Am I enjoying my work? Am I making as much money as I desire? When do I feel a sense of achievement? Am I stressed? How could I improve my work life?

Work out your strengths and weakness by asking questions
1. What do you love about your work?
2. What do you hate about your work?
3. Am I enjoying my work?
4. Am I making as much money as I need/want?
5. What activities give me a sense of achievement?
6. Am I stressed?
7. How can I improve my work life?

Some experts in the field recommend designers specialise. To base your design business to a particular niche that enhances your strengths. It can be based on something you excel at or the most popular need in your area.

Success comes by:
1. Continuing to learn as much as you can
2. Being professional
3. Adapting yourself to different seasons in the market
4. Looking at opportunities to increase your options

For example:
• Solar panel installation
• Help others become green
• Clean technology consultants are in high demand
• Emission Trader

You may be very successful and completely happy with your design life. So you can ignore all of the above. But it is helpful and encouraging to see the number of diverse skills and the abilities we need and often have.

I left the field of design for a number of years. When I came back I did a refresher course and had a close look at my strengths and weakness. Although I am a good organizer and manage my time well my weakness was in the business side of the design business. I hated dealing with money, doing quotes and accounts.

My main strengths were my people skills and creativity. I had also found I loved to encourage others, to teach and write. So I have found my niche I now combine my people skills, training skills and artist skills by tutoring, writing, some consulting and doing the occasional painting. I don’t think I have ever been as happy in my work as I am now.

‘Get all the advice and instruction you can 
and be wise the rest of your life’
Proverbs 19:20

One of my favorite books is the book of proverbs. Every time I read it (which I try to do every day) I find new gems of wisdom to help me along life’s way.

I hope you find or have found your niche, success and happiness.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Funky Graphic Illusion of Quantum Innovations Join Sample Board Online

Sample Board Online welcomes Quantum Innovations on board. Funky Graphic Illusions 3D decorative surfaces can be used in the home, retail, corporate and hospitality industries. This Australian company is a market leader in the design, production and supply of decorative panels and merchandising display systems.

Use Sustainability Initiatives
Quantum Innovations is a company also committed to the reduction of carbon emissions, energy saving procedures, recycling procedures and follow other sustainability initiatives.

Graphic Illusion 3D Decorative Surfaces
Graphic Illusion is a range of 3D decorative surfaces. They come in a range of textures, colours and patterns. The panels are 1200 x 2400 and can be placed horizontally or vertically. Made of MDF the panels have a Thermolaminate finish.

A Vast Range of Colours, Textures and Patterns
Quantum’s merchandising display systems include: Slotpanel, Slotpanel Display and Smart Slot Slotpanel come in a range of 20 solid colours including midnight, illusion and expresso. There is also a range of wood grains and patterns including; Victoria Ash, Jarrah, brushed aluminium, stainless steel and silver mirror.

Slotpanel and Slotpanel Display
The Slotpanel Display is available in hundreds of colours trimmed with aluminium. The five most popular colours, white, black, blue, straight beech and seal grey are always in stock. The displays come with lockable castors, removable legs and numerous accessories.

Smartslot Panels
Smartslot panels consist of routered slots that can be machined in the horizontal or vertical position. The MDF boards are available in a wide range of colours, prints and woodgrains

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Grand Tour Continues

The influence of ancient Rome and the Roman Empire on Western architecture and interiors can’t be under estimated. I was at Art College studying visual art when as a group we visited an exhibition from the city of Pompeii. The colours used in the interior decorations were spectacular. My favorite design style at the time and continues to be classic modern. My paintings abstract. I was not into period design at all.

But this exhibition impressed me. Over the years I have come to appreciate the wonderful designs of the past. The eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79 buried the town of Pompeii in lava. As a result the town was buried until 1748. Since then this Roman town situated not far from Naples has continued to be excavated. The brilliant treasures discovered have given a clear picture of the structure of and what it would be like to live in a Roman town.

The excavations have exposed theaters, temples, shrines, baths, fountains and meat markets. A number of private houses and shops are now also on view.

In Roman buildings rounded arches and classical orders were a dominant feature. Greek influences are unmistakable. So Kevin this week is off to Greece. What a great privilege it is to encounter all the wonders of the past from my comfy sofa. The wonder of technology. I heard the other day students entering their first year of university have never known a life without computers, mobile phones and many other modern gadgets.

Irish Joke
Due to an unfortunate error, the wrong name appeared in a death notice in the morning paper. When the man alleged to be dead read the notice he was very annoyed and rang the editor. ‘I’ve just read my death notice in your paper’ he said. ‘Really’ the editor replied, ‘and where are you ringing from’

Friday, March 19, 2010

Interiors Of The Grand Tour

The rich and luxurious interiors of Renaissance Italy were unbelievable. The walls were decorated with frescos by the great artists of the day. Ceilings were nearly always gilded and boldly carved. The floors were inlaid with marble. Oriental rugs were used on tables and sometimes hung on walls but not often used on the floor.

Opulent fabrics damask, velvet and silk brocade added to the richness of the atmosphere. Furniture was limited. The large gilt beds had curtains of crimson silk and sheets hemmed with gold tread. Dinning tables were very simple boards and trestles covered with damask cloth, velvet or oriental rugs.

If you are interested Stuart Interiors have a selection of renaissance textiles.

Italian homes did not have a room set aside for dining. The table and rarely upholstered chairs were moved from room to room. In the memoirs of a Sicilian Prince he remarked it was his practice to dine in whatever room he fancied. He apparently did this until his death in 1957.

Brass nails were used to attach fabric to the roughly made table and chairs. Cassone is a chest or coffer made in Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries. A credenze or sideboard was also one of the few pieces of furniture used at this time.

All in all Renaissance Italy was a feast for the eyes and the grand tour visitors had difficulty finding the words to fully describe the wonders of Italy.

'The aim of every artist is to 

arrest motion, which is 

life, by artificial means and 

hold it fixed so that a 

hundred years later, when 

a stranger looks at it, it 

moves again since it is life'  

William Faulkner

Monday, March 15, 2010

SBO looks at Grand Tour Delights

Florence the birth place of Renaissance architecture would be a wonderful place to visit. We did visit Italy but only had time to tour Northern Italy. We travelled from Northern Germany and visited Austria along the way. I remember my mother quickly working out each currency. Salzburg was delightful. The Alps were beautiful awesome yet terrifying, the roads so narrow and the car horns deafening.  We had a wonderful time.

It’s nearly time to watch Kevin McCloud as he continues his journey. I am still thinking about last week’s program. I have discovered he has written a handbook to go with the series. But I am not going to be tempted to buy it until I have finished reading a number of other books on my book list. I went through the book 1000 Books You Should Read before You Die in January and have made a very long list from the recommended books. Now back to Renaissance era.

Roman Architect’s Book Found in 15th Century
Vitruvius the architect and engineer who served Emperor Augustus wrote a ten volume work. In these books he gave detailed information on the different styles used by the Roman architects. This book was rediscovered in the 15th century. Vitruvius’ rules governing correct proportion and other requirements were then accepted as an authority on how building should be constructed. The great architects of the Renaissance were greatly influenced by the ten volumes.

Roman Arch Vault Gable and Columns Copied
Exact copies of the ancient Roman buildings were not created but the rules and outward forms were observed. The Roman arch, the vault, the gable and the five Roman orders Tuscan, Doric, Corinthian and Composite were incorporated into Renaissance buildings.

2 Main Periods Early and High
Some suggested renaissance architecture can be divided into two main periods; the early Renaissance in 15th century and high Renaissance in 16th century. Roman ornamentation of buildings is a feature of the 15th century. During the 16th century the Roman influence extended to the structure of buildings. 

Renaissance palaces were very different from Medieval castles. They were not designed to be defended against attack. They were created for entertainment and fine living. The ground floor windows however were small and covered with a grille to prevent theft. The iron work was based on Roman motifs. The windows on the other floors were larger and more ornate.    

Homes of Florence
The styles of the stately houses of Florence were influenced by the Roman amphitheatre with arches and plasters. The ground floor walls are formed with large blocks of stone. Windows often consisted of a single arch enclosing two openings separated by a single column. Later windows tended to be rectangular surrounded by mouldings with consoles a pediment above. Sometimes windows had curved pediments some had pointed pediments. In some buildings windows with curved then pointed pediments were alternated.

Statues For Niches and Roman Columns Doric, Ionic and Corinthian
Doors usually had pediments above and columns with an entablature on either side. A dominating feature of Renaissance buildings is the cornices. The facades of buildings were decorated with rows of pilasters between the windows. The bottom row is Doric, the one above Ionic and the top row Corinthian. Niches for statues, a fountain and delicate arcades are found in the courtyard. 

Painted ceilings
Ceilings are either vaulted or flat and decorated with paintings or panel work. Rooms are interconnected with only few corridors. During the Renaissance one individual architect would design the gardens as well as the house. Some like da Vinci and Michelangelo worked as painters, sculptors, architects and inventors.        
Next blog and then there are the wonderful Renaissance interiors

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sample Board Online’s newest supplier Satara has brilliant success at AIFF

Sample Board Online is excited to present the new supplier Satara who offer a range of classic and contemporary European designed all weather outdoor furnishings. The response from interior designers and retailers to the new range of Satara Outdoor Living furniture at the Australian International Furniture Fair was amazing.

All Satara furniture can be manufactured in 12 different colours. They hold stocks of the most popular 4 or 5 colours and offer other colours by special orders. They can customise table sizes and modify any of the designs to the designer’s requirements. All the tables are available with a weave top or a teak top. Glass can be placed on top of the weave if required.

Easy Clean and Easy Care
Woven aluminium frames can be simply hosed down if dusty or cleaned with a mild detergent and a sponge. Some of the furniture has teak frames and tabletops. Teak is used extensively in outdoor furniture because of its weather resistant properties. If left untreated teak develops a grey weathered look which doesn't affect the quality of the timber. If you do not like this look the teak can be protected with a specific teak protector.

Satara recommend the protection be applied once a year when the timber is dry. At Satara Outdoor Living they are committed to providing the Australian market with a range of quality constructed and stylish outdoor furniture to meet the evolving needs of the great Australian outdoor lifestyle.

With the continued move towards incorporating indoor and outdoor living spaces Satara’s stylish range of hand woven synthetic furniture provides a myriad of options for maximising the use of outdoor spaces, for relaxing, socialising, dining and escaping from the hectic pace of life these days.

The company works closely with designers to achieve the best outcome for both residential and commercial clients  Satara aim to continue to provide refreshing new designs and innovations to the market and have just released the new Votsalo Range.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Remember Sample Board Online is a one shop designer stop

In a few words Sample Board Online 

Is easy 

Is fun 

Is eco friendly 

Is cost effective 

Looks professional

Is great

 At Sample Board Online you can

Source and Select Products

Upload your plans and drawings 

Create professional sample boards

Develop specification sheets

Cost a project

Submit ideas to your client

You can do all this at the one stop designer shop 
Sample Board Online 

Are you taking full advantage of all the SBO features?
Do you have suppliers you would like to see on board?

Please let us know what you think and what you want. We would welcome your feedback

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sample Board Online has a great New Tool

Ros and the Sample Board Online team continue to improve the SBO site

A great Text Tool has been added. We at SBO feel sure the additional tool will add value to the users experience.

Please have a play with the Text Tool and let us know what you think

You probably do not need instructions on how to use this brilliant new feature. But just in case you don't I thought I would show off the new tool.

Happy boarding