Embracing Black in Interior Spaces

White and bright interiors seems to be a popular choice. Or at least most would probably choose an all white space over an all black space ... right? Well, meet a lady (video by Dwell) who completely embraces an all black interior. I mean black everywhere - floors, walls, ceilings, the whole chebang!

I think black is an important colour for interiors. It's a great definition colour. Other colours really pop against it. When used in larger quantities, it can be dramatic and elegant, mysterious and chic, serious and mature. In this case it was a good choice to go with a glossy black for much needed light reflection. I would say her space is quirky and dramatic, eclectically elegant - yes, thanks to all the shiny black but more importantly her 'out-there' collections and decor choices really express her style. I don't know this woman, but it seems like she feels comfortable and confident in her space and that it suits her need for expression; it seems to reflect her.

Would I live there? Most definitely not. Could you?

I leave you with just a few of my favourite images depicting black in interiors...

via Annaleena's Hem
via OWI
in Vogue via What Wilson Wants
via Freshome
via Freshome

... bis bald!


Beware: use interior design at your own risk! (Research Findings Fridays)

We often talk about the benefits of interior design and well designed spaces. But if we stop to think about the negative effects of spaces that are not well designed, that's when we truly appreciate good interior design.

So for today's Research Findings Fridays, I'm going to do something a little different. Instead of a research paper, I would like to share a scary story about a sort of architectural experiment gone wrong....

It all started when I read this sentence from a book called Place Advantage by Sally Augustin:

"Environments in which the sensory experiences are consistent are viewed more positively by those who experience them..." p. 39.

This led me to think about what happens when sensory experiences in an environment are not consistent. When things don't make sense, the inevitable outcome is confusion. When we are confused, we are uncomfortable because as humans, we are constantly seeking to make sense of things and fit them into our existing schemas of how the world works. When we experience something that doesn't (known as 'incongruity' in psychology), we have to make it fit into our perceptions of how the world works; so we either adapt our views or we reject the situation.  If we can't do either, we are left perplexed and this can be harmful.  This idea then led me to think about this article I read a while ago:

"The Architecture of Madness: Buildings can drive you crazy, but can they help resort mental health?" by Phillip Nobel.

And here begins the scary story.  Part of the article discusses the negative psychological impact of the Boston Government Service Center (BGSC), designed by Paul Rudolf.  It is a famous example of how architecture can confuse, agitate, and sometimes fatally overwhelm.

BGSC via Flickr

Oh gosh, you must be asking yourself - What!? Why? How?!  Rudolf believed that buildings and spaces should sometimes rise above mere function - above all, they should instead strive to bring out emotions. The BGSC sure did - especially in its Lindemann Mental Health Center.  Rudolf created a space overwhelmed by bush-hammered concrete on every surface with a curvy, labyrinth feel in order to express or mirror the mental state of the patients inside.  Basically, it seems he used this building to selfishly project his own romanticized view of mental illness. To me, it seems like more of an art project than anything else, at the expense of real people. Needless to say, spiral staircases that lead nowhere, eerie passages with no end, subliminal imagery and a creepy, dismal chapel that looks like it was meant for human sacrifice are not encouraging for anyone, especially not the mentally ill.  There have been lots of accounts of patient disorientation, onset of kinaesthetic disorders and even suicide.  It's like a freakin' nightmare this building, and not appropriate for the treatment of those suffering from mental illness.  Even those working there at the time claim that this building was physically and psychologically damaging.  I'm not sure what has come of this building now.  It's definitely still there and sort of neglected.  I certainly hope that they are not treating patients there anymore... actually does anyone know?

BGSC via Flickr

If we believe that architecture and space planning can affect people in a positive way, we must also believe that it can affect people in a negative way, especially if the context is wrong.  The Lindemann Center and the BGSC is an extreme example of the negative effects of creating an inappropriate space for the people who are supposed to be using it.

BGSC via Style Park

BGSC via Style Park

And that's the end of the scary story folks.

When things don't make sense, we can either adapt our perceptions and consequently our behaviour, but the outcome may not always be good.  In the case of some of the patients at the Lindemann centre, they didn't have much of a choice than to give in to the subconscious pressures of their surroundings.  That's why it is crucial to create environments that make sense to those who inhabit them.  If all the sensory information matches up, and everything is in line with our perceptions and mental schemas, then we have achieved harmony.  The goal of any interior designer is to help those who inhabit a space achieve that harmony based on their own individual schemas, perceptions and sensory associations.

Have you ever been in a space that makes you uncomfortable?  Can you remember why you felt that way?  Do you think there was something about the design or layout of the space that was responsible?

On that note, try to have a good weekend, eh? Appreciate the environments that make you feel safe, comfortable, productive and confident.  If you need help with that, you know where to reach me ;)


Charming and Stylish Home in Lomma

I'm glad you are taking a moment to check out this charming, stylish Swedish home. With all the wooden accents, achromatic colour schemes, the wonderful contrast of rustic and modern styles, Scandinavian style, designer furniture, DIY ideas and fruit and vegetable decor I've been talking about lately, I had to share this home.  It embodies a lot of what's been going on at HVH Interiors blog lately, like a nice little summary full of inspiration.  Enjoy!

Images from Hettinger via 79 Ideas.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!


Great Design Ideas by Hello Sailor

I came across the site Hello Sailor by designer Jonas Loenborg and fell in love with two of his pieces:

This is called Lightweights, literally a weight for pendant lights. This is an excellent idea especially for renters who can't make structural changes to a space. Often times a ceiling light fixture determines where a table should go, for example, even if it's not really the right spot. This allows for a creative and very cool way to put your pendant anywhere you want. Also good for those who change their minds or move around a lot - like me ;) The 3D prototypes show a weight or an anchor, both in polished, cast steel. Love how shiny and liquid-ey they look, reminiscent of mercury.

This is Slidy, an extendable table. Also still in the concept phase, it is a painted (white or black) metal table with hollow wood inserts that extend to allow 4 extra seats. A good reason for the hollow quality is storage of newspapers, placemats or items of this nature. Metal + wood + storage and versatile functionality. What's not to like?

I would love to see some of these ideas materialized. Here's hoping.

What do you think?

* all images via Hello Sailor.


blue joy - Moodboard Mondays

What does your space say about you? Research Findings Fridays (on Monday)

Ever wonder how much your living or working space can say about you, or if it can say anything at all? This interesting study proposes that our living spaces (in this case bedrooms and offices) reflect and reinforce who we are.  If that is the case, then these personal spaces must reveal information about us to those who do not know us.  The study reveals that blind observers are able to make accurate inferences about the personalities of people who inhabit those spaces. Click on the reference below to see the article.

Gosling, S.D., Ko, S. J., Mannarelli, T., & Morris, M. E. (2002). A room with a Cue: Personality Judgments Based on Offices and Bedrooms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(3), 379-398.

Basically they asked a group of observers to note their impressions about people based solely on the rooms they inhabit, without any prior information about the inhabitants. The observers rated the inhabitants' personalities based on bipolar scales for five personality traits (The Big Five, Costa & McCrae, 1992). The five traits include Openness (to experience), Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Emotional Stability (aka Neuroticism in The Big Five).

They found that observers generally agreed on (gave the same responses) and were accurate (based on previous self reports from the inhabitants as well as peer reports) about the personality traits of the inhabitants. Strongest agreement and accuracy were found for openness, conscientiousness and extraversion (emotional stability and agreeableness least agreement and accuracy) for both offices and bedrooms.

This is interesting because the findings suggest that although our personal environments are telling, they may only be for certain parts of our personalities - whether we have an openness to experience or not, whether we are conscientious or not, and how extroverted or introverted we are.

Our personal environments are crafted by conscious and unconscious choices and behavioural residue.  As an interior design consultant, I believe that these personal environments in turn affect the well being and productivity of people who live in them.  Additionally, this study shows that personal spaces can also guide the impressions of onlookers.  That's why interior design is an important factor in our lives and its effects are felt at a conscious and subconscious level.  Whether you are seeking to portray the right message (i.e. in your office) or you're looking to benefit from a well designed, familiar, comfortable environment (i.e. in your home), thoughtful interior design can play a big role in achieving those goals.

How do you think your living or working space portrays you?  What would you infer about the people who inhabit the spaces below (take styling into consideration - it is a powerful, reality altering tool)?

via OWI
via Dwell
 Home of Abigail Ahern via 79 ideas

See you later,


The Conran Collection at M&S - Holly's picks.

1. Conran Segment Clock, 2. Conran Nash Media Unit, 3. Conran Godwin Chair, 4. Conran Wood Photo Frame Holders, 5. Conran White & Wood Wall Clock, 6. Conran Wooden Stem Floor Lamp, 7. Conran Science Tall Vase and Science Conical Vase.

These are my picks from the Conran Collection at M&S.  Given my fun time spent working in a research lab in university, you can understand why I am smitten with those flask vases.  I love laboratories - not to live in of course, but ideas for the home inspired by the lab, that's right up my alley. These items are simply stylish, fresh and understated - all white, grey and brown. Do you have a favourite from my picks or from the rest of the collection?  

For those who may not know, the Conran Collection is designed by Sir Terence Conran, founder of Habitat and the Conran Shop. Although he hasn't been involved in Habitat since 1990, Conran has taken on many endeavours during his career, including retail, furniture and product design, restaurants, writing, property development and even founded the Design Museum in Britain. He will be 80 this year and he is not ready to retire. 

Read an interesting interview about Sir Terence Conran in The Telegrah.
Read Elle Decoration editor's view on the shaky future of Habitat

Have a great day!

ps. stay tuned for my regular Research Findings Fridays post tomorrow.


Floor and Wall Tiles by Fired Earth

I came across Fired Earth and really liked some of their floor and wall tiles. Naturally, I must share.

I like the wide range of styles they offer. These are just my picks, there is so much more where that came from.  How juicy are the Metropolitan tiles?  I'm always a fan of mosaics and sometimes even iridescent ones like those featured here.  I also enjoy how the Renaissance tile gives of a glam-ed up brick vibe.

As great as their tiles are, Fired Earth also offers a number of other interior products like paint, wood flooring and furniture for bathrooms and kitchens. They strive to provide beautiful, quality crafted products from across the globe.  Their main station is in London but they have showrooms all over the world.  Visit the Fired Earth website for more info.

Are you a tile fan?

*all images via Fired Earth.


Wonderful Reclaimed Wood Creations - Brooklyn to West

With a background in sculpting and a driving desire to create sculptures that fit spaces, Ariele from Brooklyn to West makes furniture out of reclaimed wood. She can pretty much make anything and fix anything and when she does, ART (not just things) is born. She recently even finished practically the entire interior of Restaurant Il Vecchio (floors, walls, tables, chairs, light fixtures ... you name it, she did it).  Here are some examples of her work:

table tops
table tops 
table in action...
hand made cutting boards and wood burned with the name and logo of the restaurant
and finally, here is Ariele doing what she loves best ...
I am so amazed by her creations and her skill.  Rustic, salvaged, full of emotion, I appreciate it so much.  If you are interested in custom made reclaimed wood furniture, do contact Ariele.  Find out more on her blog, Brooklyn to West.

*all images via Brooklyn to West. Discovered via 10 Rooms.