Inspiration has many origins and can be somewhat unpredictable. A great designer understands their inspirational source and becomes a conduit for the creativity to flow. The skill is in taking seemingly unrelated imagery and conceiving a new visual context that inspires a body of work.

Christopher Elliott is truly passionate about great design, continuously seeking and anticipating the current global trends and forecasts. This visual diary reflects products, styles and images that both inspire and guide Christopher’s work.


Black on Black

OK, so I am a little bit obsessed with black right now, so much so, I like pairing it with more black; to create designs featuring a ‘black on black’ palette. I think it’s Sarah’s influence; she is the latest member of our team, and black is her signature style. So naturally, I too have come to appreciate the dark moodiness of this colour, and I love when you layer it with other black materials, any textural differences between them are highlighted, adding depth and a sense of luxe to a design. The colour historically has evoked opulence and prestige, as well as being the all-time ‘go to’ in design, and really what’s not to love? Black goes with everything, considered classic, easily maintained, readily available and looks slimming.

We couldn’t ask for more!

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Pinterest - Random inspiration

 


Colour Directions

Burgundy, Marsala, Beetroot, Ruby, Magenta and Claret; these are all possible names for a particular colour that I am loving and using right now. For a long time, we have seen a spectrum of cool colours featured predominately in both interiors and fashion, all the while some of the warmer tones took a back seat. All this is about to change!

Even though blue is always seen as a classic, evident by the use of Navy in many interiors, which I love I might add, but what is also emerging is a particular ruby berry toned colour range. These sumptuous colours compliment a palette of deep blues beautifully and work harmoniously within a grey scheme. However, there is one distinct tone of this colour I adore, but trying to find a name for it is proving difficult. The best description I can come up with so far is Pink Burgundy. Meaning it’s on the pink side of a dark burgundy, giving it more luminosity and vibrancy. This unique saturation of colour has a modernity to it, as opposed to an old world gentry charm that a true burgundy would conjure. Though, I am baffled to think of an appropriate name for this elusive colour; my current reference to it relies on a small swatch of velvet fabric by the European fabric house, Chivasso, and their reference to the colour is called 080. Great! (Insert ‘rolling eyes’ emoji) Even they couldn’t think of a good name for it! But as with all things design wise, it is best to show you what I mean than to describe it. So here are some images that evoke the ‘Pink Burgundy’ colour I am loving.

P.S. If you think of a good name for it, let me know.
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Photography credit for final image: Photographer Mike Baker for Dulux.


Sofa Trends

Aren’t we all just sick of our sofas looking like boring square boxes wrapped in fabric? The description may be a little simplistic, but the reality is not far from it. As a designer, I have seen plenty of sofa designs and there are only a few classic shapes, many of which are based on a rectangle, and I am just a little bit bored with that idea. So I am happy to see that a strong design trend with sofas is to be anything but square. Rather the look is sculptured organic forms, which are moulded to hug your body, providing that “perfect” individualised comfort. The new style is lighter, designs float on timber legs or steel frames and gone is the cumbersome boxy look, that these days just seems crude and unrefined. Given most sofas are essentially one of the largest pieces of furniture in people’s home, it makes sense that it should also be a thing of beauty. These current designs are like elegant useable art forms, taking centre stage in our living rooms. Here a few designs that are capturing my interest.

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(Image source: Dulux; Photographer: Lisa Cohen)


Yabu Pushelberg Design Studio

I recently discovered this formidable design studio, Yabu Pushelberg, based in Toronto by founding partners; George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg. Let’s just say I have design envy! Their work is undeniably brilliant, regardless of your personal taste. The level of detail and execution exhibited in their projects is exceptional, and I am in awe of their work. However, their designs are far beyond the reach of most, but there are some design cues that can be transposed for more accessible design. So here are my ‘take-away’ tips.

1. Layering – Layering of sumptuous materials; natural stone, metal and timber adds warmth to a space. 2. Colour Palette – A subdued colour palette creates a sense of timeless elegance. 3. Simplicity – Keep the design simple but use unique details to create interest. 4. Geometry – Bold geometric shapes give strength to a design. 5. Unexpected – Create character with the use of unexpected and unique elements in a design.

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What’s Hot?

Often when I first meet someone and they learn of my profession, I am asked “what’s the latest ‘thing’ with interiors”? Usually, my response is evasive; trying to formulate my answer to this question, at the time seems somewhat short of impossible. How do you provide an on-trend snapshot of design with only a few clever lines, said to a complete stranger with no visual references? Some of you might be wondering; why is that so hard to communicate, after all, you are a designer and work with these ideas all day, every day? And the answer to that is; I don’t want to be misinterpreted, for a picture tells a thousand words and in those instances I only have time for a few hundred, at most. So here’s my answer to all those asking “what’s hot?” in interiors now. Pictures, really do tell a thousand words!

CED Robyn Cosgrove 'Tamssin Rug' - Inspire 091015CED Minotti 'Seymour Sofa' - Inspire 091015CED Minotti 'Leslie Armchair' - Inspire 091015

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God is in the Details

It can be said that both “God is in the details” and “the devil is in the details”. For any designer can put the basic elements of a design together, but true mastery of design is in the details. Details expose a designer’s imagination or lack of; and the ability to go beyond the expected. Beautiful designs are often the result of well-resolved components, interconnecting to achieve a harmonious result. The more each element of a design is considered, the more the design will stand as a whole. It is often the junction points between differing materials or elements of a design that problems arise or to put a positive spin on it, where opportunities arise. Opportunities to create details that are unique and opportunities for a designer to truly express their talent. With interior architecture, one of the most prominent ways to showcase interesting details is, with joinery design. Whether it is a mitred join, shadow line rebate or interesting junction of materials, joinery design is like the tailoring of a fine suit. At Christopher Elliott Design, we are working on developing distinct joinery details for several of our projects and here are some fine examples of stunning joinery designs that are inspiring us.

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Patterns as a Visual Language

All over the world; pattern specifically, has and continues to play a vital part in most, if not all, cultures. Some of the most ancient of these cultures have taken the idea of simplistic geometric shapes combining them to form very complex patterns, to the absolute pinnacle of design. One might ask, “for what reason?” Other than they are beautiful to look at. I would suggest that these are marks, signatures, even records of important life events, much like an intuitive, yet visual language. Each design specific to the artist and reflecting their unique point of view. These designs are deeply personal, giving rise to the belief that the creation process is cathartic.

So given the current apocalyptic state of the world it is no surprise that this approach to design is making a return. Not that it ever is considered out of style for those people who lives and culture are founded in this ancient craft. These beautiful entrancingly kaleidoscopic designs evoke a history and memory of a time and place that appears to be in balance with nature, not at war with it. So as we move forward into the future it pays to remember the past, taking forth that which has brought us a sense of peace. Check out Balmain Resort’s 2015 stunning collection.

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Less is More

As a designer it is easy to be overwhelmed by choice and one’s own creativity. The mark of a great designer will be what to edit out of a design as opposed to what to include and it’s important to strike a balance between these opposites. Some designers like to throw more into the mix and others apply more restraint. Neither approach is right or wrong, but for me, personally, as I mature (some may say I haven’t) I am drawn to the path of restraint. I have found to pare back a design requires a level of confidence about my work, allowing the purity of the design to shine through. This minimisation of my designs is also born from a yearning to simplify and de-clutter my life, which is reflective of a greater need for environmental austerity. That being said, my aim is to not strip designs of their complexity and interest to that of a clinical form, but rather simplify and strengthen their impact though clarity. Here are some great examples of this restrained design ethos by an international Polish architect firm, Tamizo.

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Skewed Perspective

As our increasingly fast-paced lives become more complex and rigid, we still yearn for a sense of freedom. Humans don’t emotionally relate to the confines of a controlled and artificial world, even for the anally retentive amongst us… myself included. I believe there is a longing to feel connected to nature and although most of us don’t want to go back to living in trees or caves, we could change aspects of the way we live to better incorporate this feeling. Architects and designers have responded to this by creating designs that break free from the confines of rigid forms and regular boxes. These irregular shapes are like a breath of fresh air to a designer: they open up a new frontier of design.

 

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How is it that these shapes relate to nature, you may ask? Well, I challenge you to find a perfect square or rectangle in nature. Granted, there are many examples that come close, but nothing is perfectly square or rectangular. In fact, forms in nature are often made up of many geometric shapes, faceted together like the rock face of a mountain. It is this complexity that gives us space to be multidimensional human beings. Welcome to the home of angularity: here are some of my favourite examples.

 

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Cultural Eclecticism

Get ready for a colourful clash of cultural compositions because a hot new tread is emerging and it’s called ‘Cultural Eclecticism’. What’s that you may ask?

According to Pantone, Cultural Eclecticism conveys a contemporary fusion of global design, a vibrant aesthetic direction fuelled by an uplifting mix of cultural and semiotic references. It’s about combining culturally diverse patterns to create a look of harmonious conflict. A mix-and-match look showcases the unexpected and unpredictable, creating hypnotic visual results. Hypnotic is an understatement! Check out the designs for yourself.

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