Vaults, Jumps, and Other Leaps of Faith
Cheers to the organizers of the London Olympics for using the games to highlight some of Britain’s most famous architectural landmarks. Take the
the symmetrical Horse Guards by William Kent (1753) in central London made a very theatrical backdrop for beach volleyball (photo courtesy Eurosport.com). Indeed it became a marvelously improbable stage set — like an urban, open-air
version of Palladios’s Teatro Olimpico (a serendipitous name) of 1585 in Vicenza, above, no less (photo courtesy wikipedia). Kent would have known a lot about Palladio and his theater but probably not much about volleyball, not to mention
Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings (photo courtesy London2012). Horse Guards Parade Ground was an inspired choice of venue because it was designed as a ceremonial setting in the first place. One good parade — or should I say, ace serve – deserves another.
London definitely had a starring role, which made me think about how British design in general has contributed to the shape and character of the home. It’s a huge subject but here are three especially influential figures.
1. In the late 1800s print maker, textile designer, and author William Morris helped found the English Arts & Crafts
Movement and gave us wallpaper designs like this one, called “Vine.” The movement’s hand-crafted, nature-oriented approach lead to the development of the Craftsman style (image courtesy Historicstyle.com).
2. Early twentieth century Scottish architect Charles Rennie Macintosh designed his iconic ladder- and oval-backed chairs, which remain popular today (image
3. London-based designer/author/impresario Terence Conran has been influential through his modern design shops (Conrans) and books promoting an eclectic functionalism. In the kitchen and living room of Conran’s own house
and abundant daylight with subtle colors and the warmth of wood (photos by Paul Massey courtesy HousetoHome.com). A good place to toast a British accent in design.