How do you create a beautiful home? From the gilded opulence of Versailles to the cool austerity of Japanese architecture, the answer really depends on who’s asking and when. Today, for example, we have a host of options to choose from. Design magazines, books, and blogs all showcase a steady stream of lovely residences and renovations, but how can you sort through the trends and the novelties?
Of course, beauty is in the eye of the remodeler, but if you’re looking for some sturdy inspiration in the shifting sea of design, it might be helpful to look to a genius. Below you’ll find some design inspiration from the iconic architects and interior designers who have shaped our modern skylines, living rooms, and tastes. Hopefully, you can take away some ideas that will inform your own masterpiece.
Charles and Ray Eames: Think inside the box, too.
It’s likely that you have coveted, sat on, or at least seen a chair that was designed by Charles and Ray Eames. The Eames lounger, for example, is a sleek symbol of rising middle-class hopes in Post-War America. Like all of their designs, the lounger was modern, mass-produced, and offered a (somewhat) affordable refinement. But the husband and wife duo weren’t just furniture designers. They were also architects, exhibition designers, and filmmakers. Their own private residence, the Eames House, or Case Study No.8, was the perfect place for all of their design ideas.
The house, built in Los Angeles, consists of two rectangular boxes made of glass and steel. The larger box was their residence, the smaller box was their studio. The main goal for the Eames was functionality. They kept a modern dweller in mind, seeking to solve contemporary problems in both utility and flexibility. But while their very practical concerns sounded a bit cold, the Eames made their modern case study both warm and fun. Two Hans Hoffman paintings hung from their ceilings, like abstract clouds. They also filled the space with books, shelves, objects, plants, and artifacts. Those boxes were their playground. Their artful experiments serve as a good reminder: if you use your creativity, it’s perfectly fine to think inside the box.
Philip Johnson: Keep an Open Mind
Before Philip Johnson became an architect, he was already thinking about and writing about architecture For a living. From his post at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Johnson championed and collaborated with titans of the field at the time, such as Le Corbusier and Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius.
Johnson later studied Architecture with Gropius at Harvard, at the more mature age of 35. Lending additional weight to the truism “it’s never too late to start,” Johnson went on to prove himself a true talent, and a soon began designing buildings that dot the skylines of large cities all over the world.
But it was Philip Johnson’s private home, in New Canaan, CT, that arguably became his most famous.. Known as “The Glass House,” the home is an open-plan, glass and steel box. Apart from the concrete roof and the central hearth, the panoramic glass experience is one of total natural immersion. At the same time, the interiors celebrate the triumphs of modernism, with a Mies van der Rohe “Barcelona” living room set on prominent display.
With Johnson’s Glass House we notice an embrace, both of the natural world and the ordered world of modernist design. When judging balance in your own designs, allow room for contrast. If you can blend the elements well, the results could produce a wonderful harmony.
Luis Barragan: See the light
Luis Barragán was a serious man. He was devout in his Catholicism, his Mexican culture, and his aesthetic convictions. Bold, colorful, angular and alive, the roof of his private residence in Mexico city is a prime example of his ideas and character.
Walking through the interior of the private home of Luis Barragán is to walk through a space that is somber, spiritually charged, and also transcendent.
If there is one material in which Barragán was a master craftsman, it was light. Often an allegory for the heavenly, Barragán used light to showcase, to summon, and guide the visitor.
1† Barragan†photos†Rene Burri for ArchDaily
Take, for instance, this angelic golden sculpture, located in a second-floor hallway. By the use of a well-placed skylight and bright yellow paint, Barragán bathes this sculpture in a glorious halo effect. Though quite heavy, this angel seems to be a spirit floating upwards.
So pay attention to the light in your home. Where is going? What is it saying? What could you make it say?
Finn Juhl: Above all, be yourself
If you’ve ever heard the terms “Danish Modern,” or even “Hygge,” it’s likely the speaker is referring, in some way, to the work Finn Juhl. With organic yet futuristic shapes, warms colors and quality craftsmanship, Danish architect and furniture designer Finn Juhl created furniture that is now emblematic of a regional design language. Now his designs are basically considered timeless.
Although Finn Juhl is most famous for his chairs and sofas, he was also a well-regarded architect, notably designing his own home in Helsinki. The organic forms of Finn Juhl’s furniture fill each room in the Finn Juhl house. The color palette ranges from cooler blues and greys to warm yellows and beaming oranges. Paintings, photographs, sculptures, design objects, and books abound. But there’s a natural unity.
The home is lively, but not dramatic. The building features are human scale, inviting. Everything blends to produce something singular, something distinctly “Danish Modern”, but even more distinctly Finn Juhl. His house is of him.
So put away the cookie cutter when designing your home. Allow your space to express your way of being and viewing the world. Home sweet home, indeed.