The New Serenity
“Eye on Design” Archive from Mann Report (Article By Gail Green)
With the onset of a new century, there is a calm sensibility prevailing over lifestyles. This New Serenity embraces design where today’s renovators and creators are seeking a timeless, classical quality that invites a refuge from the hectic pace of living.
In its appeal to the practical as well as the aesthetic, the New Serenity envelops all areas of design. Undertaking the large investment of renovation and/or building requires that every dollar spent be of lasting value, so that when the time comes to move it will prove to have been money well spent. A move toward simple elegance in design is not merely dictated by financial concerns; it is perfectly suited to the lifestyle of a mobile society that is discovering the joys of entertaining at home. Sumptuous materials and classic furniture are set against sleek and graceful backgrounds to create designs that are unobtrusive and visually comforting. Space becomes light, bright and airy. Modernity becomes classic, clean and clear.
What distinguishes this New Serenity from the “less is more” modernism of the past? Initially, the public spaces of the apartment or house have a casual formality that is appropriate for entertaining. A new emphasis on the entry foyer as a memorable space where guests are greeted in style distinguishes these spaces from the narrow corridor entrances of most modern apartment layouts. Rather than the ubiquitous open plan, spaces are clearly defined as individual rooms, yet open to each other creating a sense of openness and airiness lacking in older apartments. Sumptuous curves and niches carved into walls form a counterpoint to rectilinear spaces. Classic ideas such as the colonnade, the Palladian motif, the inglenook and the rotunda are abstracted and reinterpreted with a modern sense of detailing. The result: an interior which is sleek and crisp, yet elegant and classy – a reference to the elegance of an earlier era.
The New Serenity retains the best elements of modernism set within the idioms of the past. Recessed and indirect lighting highlight architectural features. Flying beams and screen walls add a sense of scale and frame the views between the spaces. This framing enhances the view by focusing attention on the vista beyond. Glass block and sand blasted glass are used sparingly and subtly to give rooms “borrowed” light while retaining privacy from adjacent spaces. Built-in cabinetry reduces the visual clutter and reiterates the decorative and architectural motifs of the space.
Synthesis is the key to the New Serenity: a marriage of the elegance of the past with the clarity of the present. Classic form making is combined with a modern sensibility to create spaces which are memorable, timeless, and above all, serene.
*Note – Article adapted from print. Images reflect reduced quality.
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