Design Notes Archive



The world is a surreal place these days which may explain why we’ve become increasingly drawn to design that feels like something out of a dream. It seems everywhere we look compositions of sculptural forms in abstract organic shapes are blurring the line between art and interiors.


Take the work of photographer Jan Hardisty. His carefully composed still lifes trick the eye into thinking you’re looking at a painting. In some examples (left) he arranges objects with cut pieces of paper, suspending the shapes at different depths to challenge our perception of space. In others, he manipulates single sheets of paper to create the appearance of 3-D objects. Each one is precisely composed, right down to where the shadows appear—a trickery no doubt influenced by his early work as a theatre lighting designer. The real beauty of Hardisty’s compositions lie in how they engage the viewer. You simply can’t help but study them, getting blissfully lost in the illusion.  

Garance Vallée has also mastered the art of staging a scene (literally earning degrees in scenography and architecture). The multihyphenate artist and designer has shaken up the design world with her distinct aesthetic, cross-referencing ancient architectural elements with hints of 70s and 80s modernism. But it’s Vallée’s ability to translate her style across mediums that really inspires. Drawings and paintings become objects in plaster, wood or concrete that become physical installations with surrealist overtones. Think an ancient Utopia that’s been revealed during an archaeological dig. Scenes like these have now inspired a collection of wallpapers, made in collaboration with Asteré. The series of nine patterns include this trompe l’oeil depiction of vases (center) in cavernous alcoves along with fresco-like abstracts that call to mind the influence of Jean Arp and Le Corbusier. 

Interiors stylist Laura Fulmine has a knack for curating this look, as evident by the One in One out installation she produced for this year’s London Design Festival. In Dalí-like fashion, wooden chair backs were stretched high and a lampshade teetered on a base base evoking a puddling rope. Her company, Modern Art Hire, makes artisan works like these available for loan or sale as well as facilitating private commissions. While Claude Home, the brainchild of Maggie Holladay, has become a go-to source for those seeking more timeless designs. You’ll find curvaceous classics by Vladimir Kagan and Herman Miller alongside amorphous sculptures by contemporary artists. Holladay is also designing her own line of furniture set to debut next year. Even the originals are returning—Jan Ekselius’ iconic Etcetera chair (right) was recently reissued by Swedish firm Artilleriet. The 1970s showstopper, with its dreamy undulating lines, is now available in eight colourways produced by craftsmen at the original factory in Småland.

Photographs © Jan Hardisty, Asteré, Artilleriet