Drow me a Chair

Are you nuts about interior design? Do you consider yourself a home shopping afficiando? Would you like to express your passion in a new way? Then read on…

Does your love for beautiful things spill over into your life in other ways? Do you order “shelter” magazines and hungrily pore over every issue? Do you attend every showhouse in your region? If so, have you thought about illustration as a relaxation, hobby, occupation?

Chair-Design-IdeasThere is a fabulous book for lovers of furniture and those who can appreciate ravishing room composition and art. It’s called The Illustrated Room: 20th Century Interior Design Rendering, written by Vilma Barr, 1997, McGraw-Hill Publishing, 272 pages, ISBN: 0-07-006131-9. There is learned interesting information right from the Preface.

“The Illustrated Room shows a wealth of renderings, sketches, presentation drawings, elevations, vignettes and room paintings. The author says, “Drawings can communicate the personality of a space, the intent of the designers, and the talent of an illustrator far more effectively than can a photograph.”

I have always toyed around with the drawing of simple vignettes–you know, a small rendering of a favorite spot , a sketching of the window seat, a lamp, etc. I find myself gravitating toward a wallpaper pattern that has “chairs” on it–there is a nice one called “Traditional Splendor”–and Waverly has wallcoverings with various motifs including design elements like topiaries. This look is very inspiring.

The Illustrated Room travels through the decades, which is an inspiration in itself. You can see the social trends and important events that illustrate each period. For example, the era 1920 through 1929 tells us that a love of art deco, with its sleek, smooth lines and abstract painting was the first total interior look to emphasize new technologies and materials. Japanese lacquer-work, exotic patterns on walls, floors, and screens, plus beautiful glass from ashtrays to chandeliers, tubular steel, and glass tables were all the rage. It’s hard to believe that such contemporary tastes were designed during what we might otherwise consider was an unsophisticated time.

From 1930-1939, several worldwide events sent decor into modernism. Homes were enhanced by using lacquer, mirror, cork, and taken into a totally new trend following the blond cabinetry designed by Scandinavian cabinetmakers. Galleries displayed exhibits about “internal space” and model rooms proclaimed an absence of applied decoration, their walls were devoid of color. Books and plants were introduced as accessories. The New York World’s Fair of 1939-1940, put the best design minds to work illustrating what would come with the advent of television electronics and issuing in a new era of technology.

In Virginia, “…the opening of the Rockefeller family-funded Williamsburg, Virginia, restoration focused attention on Colonial and Federal period designs and initiated the historic preservation movement. Copies of licensed Williamsburg pieces sold in retail stores.”

Not only are the decades exciting to read about in this book but the drawings are a fascinating peek into other times, and the artwork depicted is varied. There are reproductions shown from all over the world and in different mediums: watercolors, gouache, acrylic, pencil and charcoal, pen & ink, felt tip pen and computer-rendered images. There are also a lot of public places depicted, including huge malls, airports, hotels and transportation terminals which probably took each individual artist hundreds of hours to complete.

For a treat check out this book, or–at the very least, break out the colored pencils and do your own renderings. *