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.


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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Marblecious!

So it seems that all things marble have made a statement at the recent international Milan Fair (it is the designer’s equivalent of a Catholic visiting the Vatican). What is it about marble that has inspired contemporary designers? I think marble has always evoked not only a sense of permanency and luxury, but also a sense of history. An example of this is the exhibition ‘Marble across Time’ at the Milan fair, where the stunning gravity defying cantilevered table by Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka is displayed. I keep looking at this and wondering just how he managed to engineer this design.

“A massive stone frees from gravity and exists own presence as floating in the air. To the future, this is also my dream to the universe.” Tokujin Yoshioka.

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Inspiring Accessories

When designing an interior there are many elements to consider but none more important than the accessories or jewellery of a room. It is surprising, even to me, how everything in a space can come to life with the addition of a few key accessories pieces but what to choose with so many options available? Try to steer clear of mass produced generic pieces, although that being said, they can work in conjunction with other more individualist pieces to create a interesting collection. With accessories you can really express your personality and infuse a space with the things that you love. I personally like to browse through vintage shops for interesting pieces and I love finding that special piece that is unique. Often they are better made than today’s mass produced product and they evoke a sense of history that is intriguing.  Here are some of my favourite things to watch out for; West German ceramics, Mid Century Murano art glass and Teak timber sculptures & bowls.

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Magnificent MONA

After a recent and rather indulgent culinary trip to Hobart where I visited the world renowned MONA, Museum of Old and New Art, I was in awe of the architecture and general sense of design. Everything has been considered, from the moment you step on to the army camouflage painted fast catamaran ferry (which is the best way to get to MONA) to the cool iPod portable information device called ‘The O’. The architecture was designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects and is a brilliant example of raw industrial modern sculptural design. The architecture also incorporates an original Roy Grounds, architect, residential house that has been adapted into the entrance and gallery foyer. It is very clear that David Walsh, the eccentric millionaire private owner of MONA, has been the brain child of the museum and has had a hand in maintaining a current, controversial and liberal point of view towards art and life. It is a must do experience to go to MONA and not once but regularly, as the displays change continually.

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A Twist on a Classic

Paramount to creating an inspiring interior is the selection of materials & finishes and nothing beats what nature has to offer. Natural organic textures will often harmonise beautifully creating a timeless classic scheme. But what’s new in that? Using materials in unexpected ways, ways we haven’t seen before, is how designers are re-interpreting a classic. At the forefront of design more effort is going into using recycled materials and minimising waste, so these design quirks are usually born out of necessity. Here are some clever ways natural materials have been adapted, which may have you reconsidering how you look at the world.

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Piping Hot!

There is a strong trend towards using metal tubing or piping as a flexible material to fashion into either furniture or light fittings. The soft curves made possible with these materials are a welcomed relief to the hard square lines of recent designs. They are also reminiscent of the 1980’s tubular furniture designs made popular by IKEA, who have returned to the trend with a re-release of their classic 1980’s PS 2012 sofa design. I love designs that combine both the simplistic shape of the metal tubing in brightly coloured painted finishes with raw timber like those of Spanish designer Tomas Alonso. So watch out for more creative designs and interiors using these cylindrical forms.

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Heavy Metal

If you have been stranded in a desert or marooned on an island then you can be excused for not knowing that copper is hot right now! It seems everything is available in copper but I particularly love designs that combine copper with marble. The precious metallic lustre of copper with the cool dense matte finish of marble, is timeless. Copper and marble are pure raw materials that historically have been used to create magnificent sculptural statues and monuments. And so these materials have become synonymous with wealth, majesty, history and art. Undoubtedly they add a sense of luxury and evoke a natural understated quality. Contemporary designers are coming up with new ways to showcase these gorgeous materials and here are some of my favourite copper clad and marble made products.

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Matte is the new black!

Black is a design classic! Though it doesn’t always appear in the same way. The current preference is for black with a matte finish, like the charred remains of a fire. A matte texture softens the hard appearance that black can often have. Allowing it to sit beautifully with organic raw materials like wood and copper. It also seems to evoke a sense of history and masculinity, reminiscent of Victorian times when gentlemen’s fashion was dominated by black. I really like the way the finish is being used unexpectedly with these products, bringing a fresh approach to a design classic.

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Pantone’s Dazzling-blue

Get ready for some electrifying bolts of blue! Pantone has just announced their colour of Spring 2014, ‘dazzling-blue’ 18-3949 and it’s sure to mesmerize you in all its forms.

Although blue colours have been in vogue for the last few years they were more green based, teal tones. So this is a definite move away from that spectrum, with a classic more traditional blue but enhanced with a luminosity that gives it a modernity.

“So if you’re feeling blue because your blue collared boss is making you work until your blue in the face then don’t scream blue murder or you have the boys in blue on your door step quicker than you can say blue-eyed boy but instead out of blue take a trip across the wide blue yonder and you’ll be back to feeling true blue.”

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Serious Skys

Trevor Mein’s latest exhibition titled ‘Cirrus’ is a collection of photographic works, depicting dramatic cloud formations.

“All we have to do is look up. But most of the time we don’t bother. Or if we do, it’s to check for rain. We go about our busy lives, eyes fixed on the ground or on the computer screen, barely giving these star performers a second glance. And yet to look at Trevor Mein’s cloud photographs is to wonder how we can keep our eyes off them. Why aren’t we cloudstruck, immobilized with awe, scanning the sky every moment we get. Sometimes it takes an artist to show us what is in front of our noses. To make us stop and marvel. To capture the most nebulous, most ephemeral of phenomena, and help us see them anew.” Fiona Capp

Having used one of Mein’s previous works in the South Yarra project, I personally respond to both the simplicity and complexity of his beautiful cloud images. From his latest exhibition these are my favourite works. To view the exhibition and see his latest works check it out at ‘Sofitel Melbourne On Collins’ between 27 Nov 2012 – 18 Feb 2013.

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