Thursday, November 5, 2009

Writing Essays

I know the word 'essay' gives people sleepless nights and hair-pulling days and while I've had my fair share of those I've had a fair bit of experience writing essays, thanks to school and uni.

I'd read a lot of tips and instructions on writing essays which are all helpful but the best method I've ever had (primarily for History essays) is the way we were taught in my history subject at high school. It allows you to structure your research logically and makes it easy to reference your essays when you write them.

First, get a lined book took take your research notes in (I decided to leave my sketchbook for more illustrations and got a different book for research). At the front, write down the assignment question and then break it down into the different things you need to consider to answer the question.

For example, one of the questions for HD1 is:
"The Romans were great builders. Describe some of the techniques and special features in evidence in their buildings. We now focus on Roman interiors and much detail on their layout, materials and richness is expected here. You should be able to provide good descriptions and examples and to comment on the Roman way of life."

If you break this question down you see some key points:
1) What are some Roman building techniques or special features of their buildings?
2) How were Roman buildings laid out?
3) What materials did they use?
4) What did the interiors look like (considering richness and detail)?
5) What was the Roman way of life?

Now you clearly know what you need to look for in your research. Write each question on the top of a page, leaving enough gaps between each to add your notes. I often like to add a more general question if I don't know much about the topic, then go into more detail from there. As you research, you might discover you need to ask other questions to clarify topics for yourself.

For example, I used these research questions among others:
1. What is the history of the Romans?
2. What characterised the Romans as a civilisation and what was their way of life like?
3. What are some well-known Roman buildings like?
4. What materials did the Romans use in building and interiors?
5. What building techniques are the Romans known for?
6. What is the typical layout of a Roman house?
7. What characterised the Roman interior?

As you research, look specifically for information that relates to these questions and write it down uon the appropriate page. Sometimes it helps to summarise useful information in your own words so you don't accidently plagarise later.

Keep a reference list at the back, giving each source a number and writing all the information you need to write a reference/bibliography list later. When you write your notes under each question include the source number for easy referencing later.

Then, when you've planned your essay and start writing, you have a summary of all the research you've done, with sources clearly marked.

This may not work for everyone but I find it keeps all my notes in a logical order (and the questions can often be used as a paragraph topic!) and stops me taking notes on something irrelevant.

Hope this helps!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

History - Ancient Rome

I have done a few History assignments and particularly enjoyed the Ancient Rome HD1 assignment. I went there when I was 16 and fell in love with Italy and Pompeii was fascinating. Here a few of the pics I took which I found inspiring when working on the assignment.
Mosaic mural in Pompeii.
Staircase in Rome.

A street of Pompeii.

A church ceiling.

A beautiful courtyard in Assisi.

And, of course, the Colosseum.

- All photos by Anna Williams, 2005.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

1000 Chairs or just 1

I was recently given a fantastic book called '1000 Chairs'. I'll post the full details later but it's very interesting if you're a bit of a chair enthusiast.

Each week I want to post a little about some of my favourites:
Michael Thonet. Chair, Model No 14, 1859.

Everybody will recognise the 'bentwood' chair. It's iconic shape is seen around the world. The No. 14 Chair was the result of experimentation in the bending of solid wood in the 1850s. The simple form allowed Thonet's goal of mass-production - 50 million were sold worldwide by 1930.

This chair is a design classic and is seen in rooms all around the world. Would you believe I saw one, or a very good copy, in my local 'op-shop' (second hand store) dressing room and asked if I could buy it. The lady told me, rather rudely, that it was not for sale and there were plenty of other chairs available (which were all of the pea green velour, nasty veneer or plastic variety). I didn't see the point in trying to explain the difference!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Introducing Lisa Canning

Lisa Canning is a Toronto based interior stylist with a modern fresh take to interior design. Many many bloggers follow her blog where she features her own work, along with ideas, fabric and furniture. Lisa's approach is simple with interesting colours and a touch of glamour. I find it really inspiring to see how designers started their careers so I thought I would tell you how Lisa Canning Creative Consulting came about.

Lisa studied a Bachelor of Design in Fashion Communications from Ryerson University. She told me that while she was working on magazines and fashion shows she realised her love of styling and prop styling. According to Lisa, close to graduation a 'very random thing happened' - a production company contacted her and told her she would be perfect for their new show 'Marriage Under Construction', a HGTV show. With no interior design training and a $30,000 budget, Lisa had to learn the trade very quickly! She now works as a residential designer and set design.

Here is a few shots from her portfolio (available from her blog)...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rental Decorating

I always wonder if anyone hires interior designers to decorate their rental apartments and homes. I think it would be a worthwhile investment if you planned to spend some time in the house, especially if you focus on 'removable' decor.

I am currently moving out of home into a rental home. We have some leeway as we know the owners and were allowed to paint. However, we are still left with some fairly average looking walls that need some quick fixes to brighten up the rooms.

Some ideas...
Removable wall decals
(From Jenny Mac Wall Art on Etsy)

Cheap Artwork (hung with rental-safe double sided tape of course)

Try a photograph collage

or paint a poem on a canvas
(Design by Catherine Ekstrom via Desire to Inspire)

Frame some of your favourite things...frame your favourite fabric...mirrors...cork tiles...wall hangings and carpets...frame some doilies...hang some baskets...or hats...or shoes...shelving with objects...frame old boardgames...paint something yourself...the list is endless!

Another option I am desperate to try out (especially after seeing the amazing wallpaper options during M6) is a removable wall fabric idea. Find the instructions by googling 'Fabric as wallpaper' or check out the Apartment Therapy instructions here.

(From Domino Magazine)

(From Little Green Notebook)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Some ideas for M7

I just realised that after all my talk about ideas for M7 I never showed you my finished product! I eventually decided to keep it simple in an off-white so the hall could update their look regularly. I found a lot of community halls I saw used strong colours like orange, maroon, blues and greens. This is fine while the colours are fashionable but date so quickly - a community hall doesn't have the money to update their paint colours every season!

Here is my moodboard which I created to inspire my final design.

And my final sampleboard:

I thought I'd also share some of Richard's comments for anyone else's benefit. He said to include the title to presentations like these in the lower right corner, since work is typically found to the left or top (I had my title on the back). He alo said to consider the wider community for supplies, sponsorship and sewing.
He also commented that he liked my use of varied and interesting types of paint. I chose to look at a metallic paint, milk paint, 'venetian glaze' and low VOC paint. Of course there are many interesting varnishes and stains as well - personally, I chose not to use one as I couldn't get an appropriate sample.

Some of the main paint suppliers in Australia include:

British Paints:
Designer Paint Company:
Porter's Original Paints:

Of course there are many small producers that make specialised products - do some careful research and you are sure to find some fantastic products you've never seen before.

Monday, June 8, 2009

History Lesson: The Edwardian Period

The Edwardian period is one of my favourite periods of design. Following the elaborate and cluttered rooms of the Victorian era, Edwardians brought pared down airy rooms. Colours were fresher, ornamentation simpler and dados, pictures rails and extensive paneling began to vanish. Although more detailed than modern homes, the Edwardian era is the beginning of more modern sensibilities, and works beautifully with modern furnishings and design.

The picture below shows some of the key architectural features from the Edwardian period. Although less detailed than Victorian rooms, Edwardian design still often featured a picture rail (the mouldings which run above the doors and windows), a dado or wainscot (moulding which rungs just below the hip level) and of course, cornices and skirting boards.

Image from Paint & Paper by David Oliver

Colours schemes of this era were also fresher; pastel tones and pearly greys were used extensively.

Here are some pictures of modern interpretations of the Edwardian style.

Image from Paint & Paper by David Oliver

Image from

Above two images from design Hillary Wallace

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A delay...

My business degree is taking over for the next few weeks as I prep for exams. I did get a good mark for my last assignment though - 87%. I have never manged to get over 87% with Richard Edgar and was wondering if it's just me or if it's the same with everyone else? Back to the books - shall start working on Fabrics seriously in two weeks.

Thought I'd leave you with a pretty picture for inspiration...

image from: Desire to Inspire

Friday, May 29, 2009

A History Lesson - Warren Platner

So I thought I'd do a mini history lesson on a furniture designer that caught my eye recently. An icon of 60s Modernism, Warren Platner designed beautiful steel formed furniture. I recently bought myself four dining chairs in a similar style, and when I saw a photo of his originals on Desire to Inspire I decided to find out a little more!
Here's some information from Design within Reach (a site which has mini biographies of many designers):

Of the furniture and interior designers who began to make their talents visible in the 1960s, Warren Platner was among the less flamboyant. Nevertheless, he earned for himself an international reputation for elegant understatement and the steel wire furniture he designed for Knoll has become an icon of '60s modernism.

Born in Baltimore in 1919, Platner studied architecture at Cornell University and, following graduation in 1941, worked in the offices of legendary designers Eero Saarinen and I.M. Pei. He opened his own New Haven office in 1967, which quickly became a significant design studio, creating furniture, lighting and textiles, as well as residential and commercial interiors.Modernism became more expressive during the 1960s, reflecting a dramatic shift in cultural values. In Platner's words, "I felt there was room for the kind of decorative, gentle, graceful design that appeared in a period style like Louis XV." To pursue that concept, he focused on the design possibilities of steel wire and ultimately arrived at a collection of chairs, ottomans and tables that rest on a sculptural base of nickel-plated steel rods. Introduced by Knoll in 1966, the Platner collection has been in continuous production ever since.
Platner's architectural background enabled him to experiment in a number of design areas. Working in the office of architect Kevin Roche, Platner won acclaim for the interior design of the Ford Foundation headquarters (1967), using a muted color scheme to create warmth within the soaring steel, granite and glass building. Also notable, was his design of the Georg Jensen Design Center (1968), a showroom for high-end Scandinavian furniture and lighting. Platner's interior design for the glamorous Windows on the World Restaurant (1976) captured the public's notice perhaps more than any other project. Paul Goldberger, then architecture critic of The New York Times, described the lush interior, with its subdued pastels, fabric-covered walls and brass railings, as an example of "sensuous modernism."Platner also designed the interiors for Water Tower Place (1976), a vertical shopping mall in Chicago and, in 1986, directed interior renovation of the Pan Am Building lobby for its new owner, MetLife.

Still active in his firm, Platner Associates, he died in 2006 at the age of 86.Warren Platner received the Rome Prize in architecture in 1955 and in 1985 was inducted into Interior Design magazine's Hall of Fame.

Here are some of his pieces used in interiors:

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I've started reading Fabrics by Marypaul Yates and its going to be very useful as a student and a design professional.

The chapters cover the following:

  • Aesthetics (Colour, Lighting, Texture, Pattern)
  • Sustainable Design
  • Fibres & Yarns (Great for M8!)
  • Fabric Structure (Wovens, Embroidered, Vinyl, Laces etc)
  • Fabric Designs
  • Colour Application (Colourfastness, Dyeing etc)
  • Finishing & Treatment
  • Fabric Applications
  • Performance, Testing & Flaws
  • The Fabric Industry (Designer's Sources, Fabric Manufacture, Role of fabric designers)
  • Professional Practices (Fabric selection, specification, costs and budgets)

There's also lots of close-up's of fabric types, weaves and styles and a full glossary at the back of the book. The only complaint I have is some of the interior pictures seem a little too traditional, but that's just personal taste.

I thought I'd include some of the glossary definitions relating to fibres which I haven't seen in the Rhodec texts.

  • Filament fibres are produced in a continuous form, which results in a smooth character e.g. silk.
  • Staple fibres, such as cotton, wool, linen, are naturally produced not in a continuous form like silk, but in ‘cut’ lengths that vary from plant to plant, or animal to animal.
  • Texturized, air-texturized or air-entangled yarns are synthetic filaments that have a mechanically achieved rough surface.
  • Plied yarn consists of one or more strands of finished yarn twisted together.
  • Bulk describes a yarn’s appearance of fullness with respect to its weight.
  • Loft refers to a yarn’s springiness and resilience to its bulk when squeezed.
  • Dimensional stability refers to a material’s ability to retain its shape and size after use or cleaning.

After all that work, it's nice to have a little eye candy of beautiful fabrics...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Designer Closeup: Paul Hecker

Paul Hecker is an Australian designer from the Melbourne firm Hecker Phelan & Guthrie ( . He was designer (along with Hugh Lane and the sister of the owner) of Ivy in Sydney, an entertainment centre featuring 18 bars, nine restaurants, a hotel and swimming pool - an 'urban playground'. For more information on Ivy (and more amazing photos) see their website

The interiors are colourful, dramatic and creative while creating a feeling of comfort which comes from being in your own home. The various rooms and bars take on different characters from dark and moody to bright and cheerful.

The penthouse apartments are less flashy than the rest of the centre and are done in warm neutrals and natural materials.