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Our Design Intervention

I have always counted myself unbelievably fortunate to have been able to forge a career from doing what I love. Design for me is not work, it is a joy but as much as I love my job, from time to time, we all need a break and last week, I escaped for 4 days to beautiful Chiang Mai. 4 glorious days of Thai massages, great, clean , organic food, days lazing by the pool with my kindle (no design magazine in sight)- a total and complete unwind- utter bliss.

After an early morning flight, I reached the resort by 1pm and the very next morning, as I sat enjoying my breakfast amidst the lush jungle foliage, I realised that I was already in a state of total relaxation. Incredibly, in less than 24 hours, the cares of city life had all but vanished and I found myself in a calm, blissful state.

Design Intervention

How could that be possible? As I sat there, contemplating the verdant beauty that surrounded me, listening to the hum of the jungle and the sound of birds and taking in the heady fragrance of the frangipanis, I recalled similar trips to Ubud in Bali and remembered how those too induced similar feelings of serenity. What was it about these jungle escapes, that had such a powerful calming effect?

Design Intervention

As designers, we know the power our environment can have in shaping our mood and influencing how we feel. Good design should be more than just a visual creation. We experience our environment through all our senses so by working with fragrances, textures and sounds, as well as  visual stimuli, we can  create a total sensory experience to genuinely influence how we feel. And for me, this lush resort, in the midst of the Chiang Mai jungle had certainly succeeded in creating the perfect place for relaxing.

Design Intervention

So now that I am back in the office, conscious of deadlines and thinking about of my mounting to do list I am asking myself, is it possible to create a similarly calming ambience right here at home?

 

The science of serenity

In 1984, a doctor in a hospital in Pennsylvania noticed a curious pattern among patients who were recovering from surgery. Those who had rooms with a tree view were being discharged almost a day earlier, than those in otherwise identical rooms whose windows faced a wall. This observation  led to a flurry of recent research which has since proven emphatically that looking at trees has significant measurable healing effect on our bodies and mind-  Yes, scientists have proven that the simple tree can ease blood pressure , slow pulse rate, calm breathing and loosen muscles -in other words plants helps us relax. Indeed, clinical  studies have proven that people living in green areas have lower rates of cardio vascular, respiratory disease and stroke.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/50947039508394672/

The Japanese have longed practiced Shirin-yoku, taking in the forest atmosphere or “forest bathing,” to alleviate stress,  fatigue, and feelings of depression or aggression. Experiments conducted in Japan found that either walking in the woods or even stationary viewing of  trees reduces levels of the stress hormone ,cortisol. Cortisol reduction and calming our metabolic rates can actually bolster the immune system. The science of forest medicine encourages breathing in the woodsy air because plants emit phytoncides, gasses that ward off rot and attack from bacteria, fungi, and insects. More than 5,000 of these compounds are recognized and such compounds have been used in traditional medicine for centuries to boost the immune system and now science is proving the herbalists right.

But it is not just about these chemicals, natural images have a particular structure : they are “scale invariant,” meaning that no matter how much you enlarge them they contain the same amount of detail. Such images are easy for our brains to process. In contrast, unnatural images are scale variant, and the greater the variance, the more uncomfortable we find an image.

http://www.allfinweb.com/gallery/traffic-crowd-people.html

Unnatural images, are measurably more uncomfortable to look at than natural ones and require larger oxygen intake in the brain and requires more brain energy. In other words, constantly looking at unnatural images is physically draining.

 

Creating calm environments at home.

The good news is that we can employ some of these scientific findings in our designs to create environments that promote relaxation. If we are lucky enough to live in a home with a garden , then positioning a seating arrangement to optimise a verdant view would be an easy design tactic.

Design Intervention

But for many city dwellers, that is not an accessible luxury. Luckily, research shows that simply incorporating house plants into our rooms or even pictures of trees into our designs can help lower our metabolism and alleviate stress.

Design Intervention

That’s why in many public buildings like hospitals, designers incorporate murals of natural images into the interior design.

Design Intervention

These inexpensive design elements, not only look great but can genuinely improve our health at the same time.

Design Intervention

And ultimately that is the true purpose of design- the creation of built environments that make us feel good and improve our wellbeing.

 

 

May 6, 2019 0 comment
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https://www.pinterest.com/pin/155303887163036450/

We use the word “trend” a great deal these days and guaranteed to draw our attention is the catch phrase “trending now”.   However, I find it odd to apply this to a creative process that is almost as old as time which has crept back into the world of design and is still “trending”.   And….. as you may have guessed, I refer to the watercolour trend!

Design Intervention

So why does this trend work so well and why has it endured?  It’s probably because its brush strokes are familiar – it feels nostalgic and pleasant since it depicts nature and familiar surroundings.  The timelessness of watercolours brings gorgeous accents into our interiors with watercolour prints to suit both vintage décor and modern interiors. Colour is an integral part of our everyday lives and our interiors at Design Intervention attest to that.

Design Intervention https://www.pinterest.com/pin/411797959661899588/

The watercolour trend really began some years ago with the ombre style of watercolour which works perfectly on window treatments, where it is shown to best effect and on bed linen and napery.  It can really open up a room and being such a flattering colour scheme in any space, it’s application is endless.

Design Intervention

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As a painted finish, the ombre technique is fabulous on walls where it uniquely reflects an individual’s personality and taste. The end result can dramatically influence a room and is relatively inexpensive to achieve. Additionally, as you will be fading the paintwork out, you can opt for rich, daringly dark colour tones when you use this style, so you can afford to live dangerously!

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/36028865754115490/

Painting a wall or a room in the watercolour style is a great way to include it in your home.  There are endless colour schemes which will work wonderfully, plus there is something in the fluidity and lightness of the colours bleeding together that create dimension and depth.

Design Intervention

I love the artistic feel of dark moody blues and blotchy inky tones, especially those that look like a blot of paint spread over the page!  Aside from blue, deep greens, greys and black work superbly and the watercolour effect helps to soften the colour scheme.   While this tonal palette might suggest a masculine vibe, it wouldn’t require much tweaking to achieve a unisex feel.  The shading and combination of colour tones can be amazing and result in a piece of contemporary art with an ethereal vibe.

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Of course, if murky hued colours are not your thing, you can unleash the artist in you and plunge into something colourful and abstract instead! A client of ours did this in her home, where a watercolour was transposed onto a customised kitchen backsplash and we all loved the end result.

Design Intervention

Design Intervention

I am sure we have at some time visited art galleries and viewed art works so vivid and realistic which drew us into the scene.  When space is not at a premium, a mural is an enviable option which can deliver the same effect, injecting a shot of atmosphere that transports you to another place or another time. Especially in bedrooms where soft waves of colour similar to the hues of sand and sea create a calming and reflective mood.

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It is impossible to discuss watercolours without mentioning flowers, as their depiction in this traditional medium gives them a sense of movement and freedom as no other.  Flowers are currently famously on trend in both interior design and fashion and bloom happily as well on china and linens.   The soft and subtle floral watercolours on wallpapers and fabrics evoke Monet’s beautiful art works and their soft, harmonious colours which echo nature.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/563090759656710152/ https://www.pinterest.com/pin/742812532269479335/

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As with all design trends, if you can’t bring yourself to leap in, save yourself the angst and add an accent in the form of a painting or fabric on the back of a dining chair – even a small hint can make a difference and requires very little effort! Embrace your inner artist!

Design Intervention

 

April 12, 2019 0 comment
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The new year’s crop of design magazines and blogs are full of articles declaring a new age of opulence, a resurgence of colour, or a re-discovery of Maximalism, and this self-confessed maximalist aesthete could not be happier!

At Design Intervention, we have been championing this Modern Maximalist Style for a few years now. But 2019, is seeing the Maximalist look becoming mainstream. Even Ikea (yes the purveyors of stream lined Scandinavian lines) has launched a new collection with distinct Maximalist leanings. And quite frankly, after well over two decades of clean lines and neutral palettes, a change is long overdue.

Design Intervention – Modern Maximalism

So what exactly is this New Maximalism?

This design style mixes eras, patterns, textures and materials, incorporates elaborate detailing and showcases treasured artefacts. These interiors are multi-layered, delivering a dynamic and multifaceted environment that is uplifting, revitalising, empowering and always utterly unique.

Design Intervention - Modern Maximalism

Design Intervention – Modern Maximalism

The Minimalist interior has dominated the design landscape since the mid 1990s, and the New Maximalism could not be more different.

Design Intervention – Modern Maximalism

Minimalist interiors imbue serenity, Maximalist ones radiate energy.

Minimalist interiors embrace simplicity, Maximalist delight in unexpected elements. Minimalist rooms are understated, Maximalist ones are luxurious. Minimalist interiors include only what is functional, Maximalist ones are filled with details and embellishment.

Where Minimalists celebrate the uncomplicated, Maximalists celebrate life with all its nuances and idiosyncrasies. Minimalists follow the less is more mantra, while Maximalists espouse if it makes you smile, it can’t be wrong.

Design Intervention – Modern Maximalism

But there is one important  similarity and it may astound you…

Everyone knows that Minimalists are all about removing clutter. It may surprise you to learn that decluttering is essential for a chic maximalist interior too.

Maximalism is not chaos, it is a result of deliberately curated choices.

Design Intervention – Modern Maximalism

The great Artist Joan Miro once said:

 The works must be conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness

– and there could not be more perfect a guideline for the would be maximalist. With Minimalism there is a distinct aesthetic and clear, easy to follow rules. Maximalism embraces everything, all eras, all colours, patterns and textures- and that can be a little daunting.

Design Intervention – Modern Maximalist

1. COLOUR

One of the easiest ways to bring energy to a room is with colour. The Minimalist look was about neutrals. Maximalism, is about all colours, in any combination. There is no right or wrong. Just pick a colour or colours you love. If your choice is a mix of bold colours, make sure you incorporate some neutral elements to add balance.

2. PATTERN

Either through rugs, upholstery or wallpaper or a combination of all three! Experiment with layering patterns of different scales… Ensure, sufficient negative space, so your eye has a place to rest.

Design Intervention – Modern Maximalism

Design Intervention – Modern Maximalism

3. TEXTURE

Combining different texture can take Maximalism to the next level. Metallic elements, sumptuous velvets, feather trims and tassels can all be combined to bring a visual and tactile diversity.

Design Intervention – Modern Maximalism

4. SYMMETRY

With so much visual stimuli, symmetry will keep the room looking balanced and allow you to add multiple layers and yet still retain a harmonious feel…

Design Intervention – Modern Maximalism

5. A COHESIVE ELEMENT

It is important to retain a link, or visual thread that runs throughout the scheme so the interiors  feel connected even with a mix of colours, patterns and textures. This could be a colour, or a motif.

Design Intervention – Modern Maximalism

And finally, and perhaps most importantly

6. RESTRAINT

At Design Intervention our mantra is “just because we can, doesn’t mean we should”.

Successful Maximalist Style is a meticulous balancing act. These rooms can be bright, bold and mismatched yet each element is carefully curated to achieve a style that inspires and revitalizes rather than overpowers.

Design Intervention – Modern Maximalism

 

March 11, 2019 0 comment
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Valentine’s Day is almost here; hearts abound on greeting cards and even on the occasional piece of furniture, which got me thinking of all the things and people we LOVE!

Bouquets of red roses, tempting boxes of chocolate, cakes and heart shaped Verner Parton chairs are visual markers so we remember to acknowledge that special someone – as blotting our copy book would have serious repercussions!

This most romantic day of the year centres around LOVE, but if you lack a significant other to fete, that should not preclude you “loving” many other things instead!

Take colour for example.  Nikki and I LOVE colour and our project portfolio online showcases this in abundance. This year we have been drenched by the colour coral, but, having just celebrated Chinese New Year and with Valentine’s Day just days away, red is all around us.

Design Intervention

I personally lean towards darker, richer and moodier tones.  The tempting hues of rich reds, plum, mulberry, purples and burgundy are punchier, deep and sexy and decidedly more appealing.

https://www.behance.net/gallery/3666893/MaxAlto-Collaboration-with-Lukas-Machnik

Design Intervention

Those who know me well are aware of my penchant for black and white, not forgetting my passion and love for all things zebra……  no home of mine is ever complete without a touch of this added to the interior. This gorgeous bar is the perfect setting to make that special pre-dinner cocktail for my special someone! Love potion coming right up!

Design Intervention

Happily, black never goes out of fashion, so expect it to feature strongly in design this year.  However, by way of a difference, think HIGH GLOSS black instead – making a statement in homewares and interiors in a myriad uses – lighting, kitchens, decorative objects and furniture. Paired with other colours it grounds the spaces and makes colours pop!

Valentine’s Day may deliver a gift of serious bling and who amongst us would say no to a touch of glitz and glamour?  We are seeing glitz in interiors too this year, as gold is back in a big way. Check out this romantic gilded sleigh bed, I’m sure many of us would welcome our macdreamy into this space!

Maximalist Modern, Design Intervention

And… this his and hers bathroom is sure to ensure marital bliss because there is NO fighting over the toothpaste tube in this space!

Design Intervention

Should you be feeling a little risqué, then this Burlesque-inspired dressing room will be sure to elevate your mood!

The Bachelorette Pad, Design Intervention

Love is a wonderful thing and don’t we have a lot to love!  We are spoilt for choice as we have a mind boggling menu from which to choose and our collective appetite shows no signs of diminishing.  Running parallel to our enviable list of ‘must haves’ is an ever growing list of ‘lust haves’ which keep us yearning for more….

With that in mind, I am taking this opportunity to toast you in advance, so – Happy Valentine’s and may it be memorable in every way!

February 14, 2019 0 comment
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Its been a frantic weekend! Saturday involved repeated trips to the nursery in search of pussy willow, pink orchids and orange trees and Sunday was spent, decorating the house for Chinese New Year. I finally have some time to relax with some coffee and some yummy pineapple tarts and reflect on my hard work.  And I realize, just how much traditional Chinese motifs have influenced our work over the years.

Andrea and I just love, love, love Chinoiserie and a quick look back at our past projects reveal just how often we have incorporated this design style into our projects.

The Chinoiserie Chair by Design Intervention

Design Intervention

So what is CHINOISERIE style?

The word Chinoiserie is French and means “in the Chinese taste”.
It describes a decorating trend that has been used for centuries to infuse drama, and a sense of fantasy into some of the world’s most glamorous interiors. Many popular Chinoiserie motifs will be instantly recognizable to us in Asia and people often, mistakenly, assume that the style originated in China. But it is, in fact, a trend that began in Europe in the 17th Century.

This was a time when European merchants were establishing trade routes across Asia, bringing home whimsical products and incredible stories of distant, mysterious lands. The Europeans didn’t distinguish between these Eastern cultures and everything from China, Japan, India and Persia were termed “Oriental”. Owning a piece of, “Japanned” furniture, as some pieces were called, became the height of fashion amongst Europe’s elite. They were fascinated with all things Asian and throughout the continent, aristocrats, began decorating their castles and palaces with Chinoiserie elements. As authentic products were rare, European manufacturers produced imitations, often adapting traditional Asian designs and symbols, altering scale and proportion to better suit European taste.

In essence, Chinoiserie is the original East Meets West design style.

Design Intervention

Typical Chinoiserie Designs

European craftsman decorated everything from wallpapers, pottery, porcelain, and painted furniture with scenes from the orient. Typical Chinoiserie motifs included the Dragon image which the Europeans regarded as the symbol of the mystical Eastern lands.

Dragon Sofa by Design Intervention

Dragon Sofa by Design Intervention

The Dragon Rug by Design Intervention

Another common feature of Chinoiserie decoration are figures wearing Chinese clothing. Some artists chose to copy figures from genuine imports but, in many cases, the images they drew were products of the designer’s imagination.

Design Intervention

Birds, flowers and fanciful landscapes were also popular, as were pagodas. So different from English architecture, the pagoda was incorporated into the design of many Chinoiserie objects.

Design Intervention

Chinoiserie Today
In a reaction to the minimalism that has dominated the design scene for much of the past decade, designers are embracing luxury and pattern. There is a return to glamorous and colourful interiors and Chinoiserie is at the forefront of this trend. Four Hundred years after it originated, some of the worlds best known designers are reinventing the Chinoiserie style, reinterpreting it in fresh colourways, proportions or materials to make it as relevant today as it was centuries ago. 21st century Chinoiserie is still glamorous but it is a glamor mixed with humor invoking a sense of luxury without formality. Chinoiserie rooms don’t have to be busy: the look is more streamlined and crisp than it was centuries ago.

Sometimes, we use it to spice up interiors with little architectural interest or to add another dimension to contemporary rooms. And, because Chinoiserie reflects so much of the culture and colour of life in Singapore, we often incorporate Chinoiserie accents to give our projects a sense of place.

But perhaps, the reason that Chinoiserie is such a particular favourite of mine, is that it brings a light-hearted, playful feeling. The stylized oriental figures, patterns and colours make me smile. And there can be few better reasons to decorate your home, than to create an environment that lifts your mood and makes you feel good. And, for me, Chinoiserie does just that.

 

January 28, 2019 0 comment
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