Monday, January 5, 2009

cold stark living.

Everyone these days is used to checking out some new residential architecture and finding spaces or complete homes wrapped from floor to ceiling with a single material or finish. Art collectors with 'stark' white-wrapped walls, often throughout the rest of the house even where there isn't any art for the desired contrast. The 'cold' concrete homes where it looks like someone was hired to pour the foundation and ended up doing the framing, finishing, casework, and often the furniture. I put the words stark and cold in quotes in a sarcastic way, since they are adjectives I often hear used to describe interiors finished in this way by those who seem to not get along with spaces defined only by lights and shadows rather than the hard edges of differing materials.

Image: Chalet de vacances aux Diablerets,
by Charles Pictet Architecte.

It came as a surprise to me when I saw these photos of the first home I have come across, where the same uniform material style was applied, but with exposed grain wood rather than a concrete or matte blanket. This seemed fresh, maybe it's the contrast it has with the previously mentioned materials or that due to the light wood finish it feels like I can experience the aroma of the place (smells like freshly sawed pine), the interior just felt new to me.

With a material which is thought of as warm, like wood, would someone who's comfort is offended by complete concrete and matte houses, find this 'stark' or 'cold'? If so, I wonder what material or color in this kind of excess would work for those individuals, or if none to that excess what saturation would be acceptable.

Image: Chalet de vacances aux Diablerets, by Charles Pictet Architecte.

What about a house where every bit of the interior is wallpapered with... wallpaper? Surely it must be a very rare fetish to enjoy frilly patterns, 70's flowers, pinstripes, or cartoon dinosaurs surrounding you, dominating your eyes, feet, and thoughts until you run from the house screaming from an architecture induced panic attack. A constant of carpet may be acceptable to most. It just seems to me that most who think a concrete house feels like a prison, find satiation in spaces lined with various materials and finishes any of which done in an extreme would be headache in comparison to concrete or white everywhere.

Image: Chalet de vacances aux Diablerets, by Charles Pictet Architecte.

I would love to know more about this, and why people develop these associations. Of course no design should work for all or it wouldn't be design, it's the flippancy and the writing off of such design I would like a stronger grasp on. I more understand (but don't excuse!) the hardcore minimalist's anti-ornament comments more than the traditionalist's comments about living in a prison. I guess I can relate more to a fight against the comfort zone, rather than never having traveled out of it.

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