An experiment

A big thank you to all those who attended the Design School over the weekend, two lovely days of classes so thank you for being such a brilliant group we had such a fab weekend.

I thought I might yabber about one of those interior design rules that you learn in school, but that we ditch and fling out the window here. That is creating easy walkways, so by that I mean not having furniture in the way instead having wide-open spaces in which you can drive the hugest truck should you so wish down the middle of your living room!

This rule is one that probably gets my blood pressure soaring the most and I will tell you why. If a room has very little going on in the middle of it (i.e. no obstacles to manoeuvre around) then it will read to the eye as a very boring space. When you dare, say plonk a chair in the middle of the room or a table that’s when things start to get interesting. You might not be able to walk in a straight line from one end of the room to the other but that is the point.

Why not try the following experiment. Two sceneries,  first up in a room move things into the middle, so I’m talking the odd obstacle in the way. A chair with a side table and a lamp as an example. When you cross the room you have to weave your way around BUT watch what happens.  Subconsciously your senses are activated so it feels a far more exciting room to be in. Scenario number two, have nothing in the way, so I’m talking everything around the perimeter. Now notice any behavioural changes. Are you reaching for the whisky, popping pills, are you’re shoulders slumped you’re head hanging low? OF course the reason -decor deprivation.  There is nothing to make you linger, stay, hang out. You can read the room in a second, you can walk the room in a Nano second and that is my point!

Anthropologie purposely design their stores with things in the way. You can’t go into an Anthro store and see clear lines and paths in front of you like most other stores, no mam you have to chart you own course. You have to weave, you can’t walk in a straight line WHY because it activates the senses, it engages the senses, and you can’t take in everything all at once. The primary reason infact that the linger time in their stores alone averages 90 minutes which is pretty incredible.

elle decor

Happy Monday

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16 thoughts on “An experiment

  1. The morning after your retail class last year, I popped into Anthropologie at 10am sharp. When I finally left, I looked at my watch. You know what time it was? 11:29!

  2. Hi Abigail,
    Thanks for your inspirational posts and for sharing your expertise in such a warm and personable way. I wondered if you have come across the artist Clare Twomey at all? I think you might like her work. Something about your posts today reminded me of her. She’s a British artist

  3. Well here are the questions…
    Firstly, how do you dress a fireplace that is too high, in a smallish room ? I know it sounds impossible but it actually exists in my house, so it’s not.
    Secondly, I was going to ask what do you think of coffee tables ? I noticed you didn’t have any in your house, only “occasional” tables, consoles and small side tables. I have never settled on one (have been looking for 10 years) and can’t get on with the idea that one should have a massive square in the middle between two sofas. I don’t think so. The only thing I have ever seen that I really loved in that vein is a small wooden Pygmy day bed. But that was in a museum.

    • I think you have to forget its high so dress it how you would dress any fireplace. Vase of flowers, maybe a few pictures, the odd ornament, t-lights etc etc. It will look far more amazing if you forget about its height and just go for it. In terms of coffee tables I use all the time vintage African drum’s which double duty as my coffee tables. As a buyer its the one thing I can’t find, I see tons of them but don’t like any as yet so I kind of improvise!

  4. Dear Abigail
    A huge thank you for your class on Saturday. I’m the ex set designer hoping to forge a new career in interiors. Although I have been working in an interior design capacity I didn’t think it was okay to simply change hats and call myself thus! Your utter confidence and balshyness (especially hearing your stories about those 3 years in NY) has made me realise I’m just being ridiculous. I’m a big fat interior designer who embraces ‘the dark side. I’m country cool and don’t anyone forget it! Bring on the new country awesome. I’m here to move this ‘stuck in a rustic quaintness’ into ‘oh my god we can be all encompassing cool living’. You say time and time again that interiors transform lives. I’m on a journey to move my country comrades into a groovier existence. Abigail… You rock!
    Rebecca xx

    • Such amazing words thank you so much Rebecca, best wishes in your new career. I won’t say luck because you don’t need it!

  5. I have dragged poor male companions (including a long suffering father-in-law) through Anthro for at least my allocated 90mins – it’s great. You do find yourself studying the contents in more detail than usual – you can’t just look at a counter from a distance & say O I don’t like that stuff – you have to go close to see.

    I wish they’d open in Australia.

  6. Always an Anthro fan. When will we be blessed with an Anthropologie store in Australia. Please gods hear my plea !!!! Great post Abigail, always a fan xxx

  7. Pingback: Masculine Design Ideas - Leftovers, part 1 - Japanese Trash

  8. Love to chat about getting you in to talk to my students in Sydney Australia. any chance? Meanwhile, In the image above, of the grey living room, Who designed the green felt upholstered arm chairs with the western stitching and who supplies them?

    • Not sure who designed the chairs sorry, happy to chat, can we do so once I’ve juggled the schedule and figured out exactly how long we can spend out of the country. Right now its looking like another short burst but will no more in a couple of weeks hopefully

  9. Got it – they are called Utrecht chairs, sold through Cassina and designed by Gerrit Rietvelt. We get em here in Australia through Corporate Culture. Looking forward to your visit down under.

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