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The British Library

The British Library – which is Grade I-listed – was the largest public building constructed in the UK in the 20th century.

The next time you visit, take a moment to notice the superb quality of the materials used in the interior of the building.

How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand

“A fascinating and indefinable book … How Buildings Learn is a hymn to entropy, a witty, heterodox book dedicated to kicking the stuffing out of the proposition that architecture is permanent and that buildings cannot adapt.”
– Stephen Bayley

“Evolutionary design is healthier than visionary design.”
– Stewart Brand

How Buildings Learn is Stewart Brand’s remarkable and memorable book which proposes – convincingly – that “buildings work best when constantly refined and reshaped by their occupants”.

What, Brand asks, “makes some buildings keep getting better, and others not?” The approach he took was to “look at buildings after they’re built. That’s when the users take over and begin to reshape the building to suit their own, real needs. What kinds of buildings work well with that evolution, and why do so many buildings work so badly?”

“Magazine architecture” is the phrase Brand coins to describe the sort of famous, or would-be famous, buildings which are functional failures. “A major culprit is architectural photography. Clare Cooper Marcus said it most clearly: ‘You get work through getting awards, and the award system is based on photographs. Not use. Not context.’ Tales were told of ambitious architects specifically designing their buildings to photograph well at the expense of performing well.”

Do seek out the book – it is out of print, but secondhand copies are easy to find online; and the six-part TV series broadcast on BBC2 in 1997, can be found here.

Owl Design

We discovered Owl Design – established in London in 2012 by Simone Gordon and Sophie van Winden – on Instagram recently – their website, which you can find here, is a ready source of interior design inspiration.


Colour Makes People Happy

We hope that more painters and decorators in London discover the fine paints made by Colour Makes People Happy, which is run by Simon March in East Dulwich. 

In Port Magazine’s interview, Simon nicely removes the mystique which so often surrounds the marketing of paint… 

“Making paint is no more difficult than making bread. It’s made of three basic ingredients. If you want your paint for outside use, you put more resin in it: if you want it interior use, very often people want it to appear “flatter” so you take resin out and put more chalk into it. It’s quite a simple thing to do.”




Miles & Wilde

A brief nod on a Friday afternoon to a firm of craftsman whose work we have respected for several years.

Miles & Wilde, founded and run by Leigh Miles and Jason Wilde, specialise in the manufacture and supply of fibrous plasterwork such as cornices, ceiling roses, corbels and panel mouldings.

We recently recommended Miles & Wild to clients in Belsize Park; by the time we arrived at the project, new cornices had already been installed by M&W in the living room and main bedroom. We used an XVLP sprayer to paint the cornice; we’ll post the photos of the work in the next couple of weeks.



Best of Houzz 2017

best-of-houzz-2017-badge-e1484941514302 We’re delighted to have won a 2017 Best of Houzz Award – the awards were announced recently.

We have been active users of Houzz since early 2016, and intend to expand our presence on the site during 2017.

Houzz is a trove of diverse information and inspiration related to domestic renovation and decoration – at the latest count there were almost 13m photos on the UK site, all rigorously categorised according to the rooms and styles they represent.

Even if your plans in 2017 are modest, a visit to Houzz will almost certainly repay you with some handy guidance and ideas.

Our profile is here.

Screenshot 2017-02-06 at 16.09.58


Salon Drab No.290 by Farrow & Ball

There is real richness to this colour, Salon Drab, by Farrow & Ball — it pairs intriguingly with Yeabridge Green.

 A two-part name, combining Salon, the small outer room off a drawing room, with Drab, a term favoured by true colourists, which simply describes a colour as lacking in brightness. The richness of this colour is instantly appealing and equally at home when used to evoke a classic 19th century feel, and the perfect go-to ‘chocolate’ for a modern look. 

Salon Drab by Farrow & Ball

Salon Drab by Farrow & Ball

Knox Bhavan Architects combine two flats

We’ve written before about our admiration for Knox Bhavan’s work, particularly their residential projects in south London.

The practice has successfully combined two neighbouring flats in a converted school in south London.

Dezeen has written about the project here.

Photographs are by Dennis Gilbert,.





Vardo by Farrow & Ball

Vardo — very close to a colour known elsewhere as teal — is an interesting strong colour from Farrow & Ball.

The photograph of the sitting room below usefully illustrates the successful balance of several strong colours.

Vardo by Farrow & Ball

Interiors by Lisa Ho Studio

We encountered Lisa Ho Studio on Instagram (do take a look at our page on Instagram, which is full of inspiration on interior design and colour schemes).

High levels of envy are currently being experienced, particularly in relation to the high-ceilinged, and beautifully lit, kitchen shown below.

Kitchen by Lisa Ho Studio
Hall by Lisa Ho Studio

Bathroom  by Lisa Ho Studio