Design School- Developing a Good Eye

During my intro to design class, I observed that although it's easy to learn how to draw things to scale, create a floor plan and elevations, and learn color theory, it isn't so easy to learn how to see. People often say that a good designer has "a good eye".  Is this something that is a gift?  Or can it be developed through training?  I think it is a bit of both.  Although it is undeniable that some people are gifted with a special way of seeing things and can imagine what isn't there and create it, I believe anyone can develop an understanding and appreciation of good design. So, I decided to make Wednesdays' posts about great design.  Looking at beautiful rooms and objects and learning to analyze them will help you develop your eye and therefore help you to develop your own style with confidence. IMG_5105-

Our first design class features one of today's greats , James Huniford.  We will tour his own vacation home in Bridgehampton, NY.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the Hamptons, Bridgehampton was not considered terribly chic.  That may be the reason why James was able to scoop up a modest 1865 Farmhouse before it fell to the invasion of the mega mansions.  Let's go through a few rooms this morning and analyze why they work:

This room is a great example of rustic meets refined.  Notice the humble, almost plain materials.  The simple flat trim used around the doorway and windows, the exposed beams on the ceiling and the large planked wood flooring installed as it would have been 150 years ago with the nails showing, all combine to tell us to relax.  The second thing I see is that the color palette is very restrained.  White, brown, gray, caramel and cream all neutral colors making the room feel peaceful and calm.

Turn your attention to the bay window.  Notice how the lack of a window treatment not only lets the light stream in, highlighting the beautifully burnished antique table, but also introduces an interesting grid pattern that draws our eye.  Hanford is also a master of scale. Look at those Rauschenbergs flanking the window!  Notice where they are mounted on that wall.  By installing them close to the window, it makes that entire wall read as one tight unified composition.  This helps your eye rest there rather than dart from thing to thing.

I could go on and on about this view, but rather than bore you, I will limit myself to mentioning how good Huniford is at bringing unusual objects into his spaces to create drama and interest.  The pieces over the stark fireplace were created for him by a welder. The rustic table and lamp on one side and the very unusual iron fireplace tools on the other are all unique and unexpected.  And what about that pencil?!  It is like an exclamation point in the room. The room captivates us with these unusual pieces even though at first glance it is restful, tranquil and restrained.

one kings lane_james huniford_KITCHEN

Spend a minute looking at this photo.  Notice the materials, the objects, the way things are placed and where they are mounted on the walls.

one kings lane_james huniford_DINING ROOM SIDEBOARD

Again, this is about the objects, the restrained color palette and shapes.

one kings lane_james huniford_DINING ROOM

Don't you want to hear the stories behind each object?

one kings lane_james huniford_SIDE LIVING ROOM

Today's designer takeaway:

"When you walk into a room, consider what your eyes are going to be drawn to.  There always needs to be a calmness, a tranquil moment, to make you want to be there.  The rooms I design are always curious and inviting and comfortable."     James Huniford

Come back next week for the next Developing a Good Eye class!