Timeless Trait Tuesday – Unity. or, Cohesiveness. or, Interior Design Complements Architecture.

Were it not for architecture, we would not have interior design. For that matter, we would not have interiors. Architecture is truly a fine art of form, function, innovation, structure, engineering and vision. Architecture has defined the landscapes of all our great cities, all our great societies. If you ever have the chance to take the architectural boat tour in Chicago, it is well worth the 90 minutes to understand how architecture has shaped the city as it proved a haven for both European and American talent. (I am biased because I spent a summer internship there, but Chicago has such a rich architectural heritage. Keep reading long enough; I’m sure you’ll hear more about it!)

I stated this in yesterday’s post: a successful project, as a whole, is greater than the sum of its parts. That requires a unified and cohesive project, one where the architecture and interior design, and all the finishes, materials and furnishings, are of the same vocabulary. That means that inside and outside not only relate but complement each other to the extent that one could not exist without the other. I think restraint is applicable here also; fewer materials unify a project.

Take, for example, the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe. A pioneer in architecture and architectural theory, this home was created for single female doctor (completed in 1951) as a complete expression of Modernism. Its simplicity centered around the focus on the landscape; the furnishings are all of the same period, created by artisans that held the same Modern ideals (in terms of material and process). Truly, the architecture would not be successful separate from its interior, and vice-versa. It is a unified presentation. Photos below from http://www.farnsworthhouse.org/photos.htm; visit for more images and a complete history of its development.

Yesterday I introduced you to Bobby McAlpine and his work. This is his take on the cohesion of interiors and architecture:

“I don’t see houses as objects. If you go by a big-columned classical house, and the primary emotion it evokes in you is ownership—wouldn’t it be great to own that—that’s one thing. But if you go past a house, and your primary instinct is how wonderful it must be to be behind that window, then I promise you that was a house conceived with the intimacy of its interior as its primary driving force.”

— Bobby McAlpine quoted by Logan Ward in The Poet of Place for G & G  (source)

If you read about renowned designer/architect John Saladino, he relies on the juxtaposition of materials, styles and scale to produce his work. But in doing so, he still creates successful projects by carrying themes from outside to in and ensuring that there is one feeling that each expresses.

So, what else could this concept look like?





There are, however, many projects which do not adhere to this unity principle.  But does that necessarily make them less successful?  Less beautiful?  Less timeless?  The interior of this lovely English country home, by influential architect Edwin Lutyens, was recently “revamped“.  Check out the article and the slideshow.  What do you think? 


8 thoughts on “Timeless Trait Tuesday – Unity. or, Cohesiveness. or, Interior Design Complements Architecture.

  1. John Saladino is my favorite designer! He pulls things together so beautifully to create such timeless classics. I practically drool over everything of his. 🙂 I really adore that English home however, I nearly passed out. Yeah, I’m pretty passionate about these things.

  2. Pingback: Fabulous Finds Friday – NYC Rowhouse Renovation | amaranthine aesthetic

  3. Thank you so much for linking up to “A Little Birdie Told Me…” at Rook No. 17! It is a departure, and a welcome one at that, from the recipe and craft fare. I thoroughly relished the opportunity to read about unity in architecture and interior design. Although we covered some contemporary architecture when I studied Art History in college, the Farnsworth House is new to me, and is a fascinating study — thank you! Chicago is one of my favorite cities, although I haven’t been there in almost 8 years. I long to take my family there for a visit, and will definitely take an architectural boat tour when I do.


    • Jenn- if you loved what I showed you about Farnsworth, definitely do some more research! van der Rohe’s theories and the intentions behind his deliberate design decisions are fascinating!

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