Evening Standard - ES Magazine
Our interiors columnist muses on how fresh ideas can flow from the most unexpected places…
I“With images of nature in such well thought through proportions, all I needed to know was there in front of me”
am struggling with a scheme. There are individual rooms and I can’t pull the whole thing together so there is a seamless flow. I’ve had two runs at it and it’s not working out very well. I just can’t get it right. Sometimes decorating a house or finishing a room can seem like a cryptic crossword puzzle where all the words are laid out in front of you but you can’t crack the code. Sometimes the balance is all wrong — too much floral, too Victorian in feeling, too dark, too bland, nothing gelling, all very frustrating.
It’s at times like this, I think it’s best to put the project down and seek a palette cleanser. For me, inspiration can come from the least predictable places: a quiet walk around the neighbourhood or painting some colour boards with my headphones on while listening to Miles Davis at ear-splitting volume (side note: I prefer live concerts because I like the applause).
I often work early in the morning or late at night when it’s quiet and I’m calm, so that when my team start arriving in they can tinker with it and tell me where I’ve gone wrong. It’s no different to any creative endeavour. There is a moment when you look at it and you know you’ve got it right, and that is the moment to walk away.
When I’m really stuck I find it helpful to have a serious upload of new information — a nugget of something new from an exhibition, a movie, even a novel, can flick a switch that will resolve the problem. So on Sunday morning I went to The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace to look at Japan: Courts and Culture.
Wandering around this wonderful exhibition, I found the solution to my scheme in an extraordinary set of samurai armour incorporating lacquer, silk, iron, doe skin, bear fur and made with such delicacy and care. It included images of nature in such well thought through proportions that all I needed to know was there in front of me. It let me see how you can marry disparate elements and still tell a cohesive story. There were many beautiful things on display that made me stop and tuck them away in my mental library, but the accrual of elements and finesse of manufacture for something made to protect life itself took my breath away.