A Thought Piece by James Balmond; Creative Director of Balmond Studio & Azara Jaleel; Editor-In-Chief of ARTRA Magazine

To create is to be human. Consequently both art and design are extremely significant. Not only does the creative act arguably satisfy some kind of spiritual prerequisite, thus enriching (and by default) re-affirming our very identity and humanity within an existential context. It simultaneously improves our environment, therefore enriching the physical and, as a consequence of the process, the experiential by proxy.

Traditionally art and design have been seen as two different aspects, neatly contained within their respective disciplinary paradigms. The former is defined by functionality, the latter by aesthetics or non-functionality. The opposition summarised in the famous axiom ‘form follows function’. However, this binary perception has been eroded over time, with clear distinctions of discipline becoming more and more tenuous as the years have progressed. The Glaswegian architect, designer and engineer Charles Rennie Mackintosh was one of the champions of this interdisciplinary fusion – labelling it integrated art-architecture. He was a firm believer in the pure integration of form and function, advocating the theory of ‘The room as a work of art.’ In other words every detail, from structure to furniture and fixtures, works together - contingent parts forming a universal whole. Or to use Frank Lloyd Wright’s words ‘form and function are one.’ The philosophy permeates both the conceptual and physical core of the Guggenheim as he wanted both the building, and the art contained within, to exist in a ‘beautiful symphony’, a harmonious inclusive balance void of any metaphorical distinction.

We need to take this thinking and apply it to our homes. So we should no longer distinguish between art, design and space per se. Rather it’s more about adopting a holistic approach, dissipating distinction and focusing on the objective totality. We aren’t simply ‘designing’ or making ‘artistic’ interventions within an external space. In fact we’re taking a series of creative actions that affect and define the nature of space, culminating in an enriched experience. Moving forward, when using the terms art and design in relation to the home, we will be placing both disciplines under the umbrella of ‘creativity’ meaning they are synonymous and interchangeable. This reinforces and emphasizes the overlap and universal qualities both possess from a philosophical, conceptual and practical perspective, rather than their differences.

As previously mentioned, art and design can enrich your home and life. In summation they can have a positive effect on an individual’s psychology, self-identity and existential sense of being, as well as enriching the physical environment itself. To increase argumentative clarity we will be analyzing these two processes in isolation. However all four elements - art, design, consciousness and home - are intertwined, affecting and feeding back into each other. This is because space exists in relation to us, a balanced nexus of function, form, aesthetics and spirit. For example, a certain colour could improve a space by making it feel bigger. This is obviously physical enrichment. However, the colour is in fact, the aesthetic catalyst for a new causal chain of stimulus and response within our brain. Essentially we see this colour and how it affects the environment (stimulus), and we then react psychologically to the space (response). In this case, we see the big white room and feel a sense of freedom, calm and comfort. This modality can also be reversed. Using the same example of a colour inclusion, perhaps you choose a colour to trigger a particular emotive response. You will now interpret the space within this emotive framework, so the environment takes on physical characteristics determined by this particular emotion. The starting stimulus and flow of these cause and effect networks always changes. Often there are many running simultaneously. A beautifully complex way of how we make sense of the world around us.

How can a work of art stimulate your home and daily life? Works of art enhance the quality of life. When frequently engaged with, be it in a private or public space, they expand one’s appreciation of culture and the consequential intellectual stimulation as one views them intently, prompting multiple interpretations; be it personal, social or even political. In fact, in a home setting, art offers hosts and guests chances for added elements of interactions encouraging meaningful connections that trigger riveting conversations, whilst also functioning as a creative source of reducing strain by provoking inner calm.

Art is meant for many things and inside your home, art is meant to evoke your emotions. Choosing the type of art you want to display in your home not only speaks of your personality but also where you come from, and the copiousness of the history and culture of your country, or values and beliefs. While art can simply be means of interior design to some, art on your wall can more importantly be a means of your life’s reflection connected to that of your past, while the intertwining of the artist’s narrative interlinks to create a unique interpretation.

Living with art on your walls means, you chose to live with your extended personality. Art is influential in the way it translates into an experience that broadens knowledge, strikingly highlighting the grandiose vision of the artist. Art doesn’t expire, it renews, and grows across generations, with offspring learning of stories through the times of their ancestors. By enriching your walls you are enriching your life. If the walls are the body, the art is the soul of it. Imagine your living room having a figurative work of art, your bedroom with a vivacious abstract work, your dining room with a charming landscape and bathroom filled with romanticism. Each wall in your home will be different in style possessing its own individuality, its own stories and emotions thereby collectively defining its extended character.

Top Tips in Designing The Kitchen 

Turn Your Kitchen Floor into Something More

The floor is always there. Unassuming and quiet, it grounds us all. We walk on it. Create on it. Live on it. Our very existence played out on a barrier breaking gravity’s grasp. And yet for the average person in the modern world, something so significant is often overlooked or just not really considered. The floor does its job in any space therefore we take it for granted. However your floor is alive with aesthetic and functional possibility.

Shifting from philosophical thought to practical design, the world of flooring is teeming with variety. It’s a diverse landscape of different materials, colours and patterns. Each flooring option has a set of aesthetic and functional pros and cons. This reality is just as valid when it comes to kitchen flooring. To hone our focus, we will be concentrating on tiling and hardwood flooring in your kitchen - offering an overview, style and visual considerations as well as functional qualities.

What Can You Expect From Tiling In Your Kitchen ?

On reflection, tiling appears to be a natural choice for the kitchen space. It is durable, easy to clean and (most importantly) water and stain resistant. These properties are so beneficial especially when dealing with water and food spillages that occur often in the kitchen. From a visual standpoint, tiling offers a myriad of styles, colours and shapes. This gives you so much customisation and control over the look you want to achieve.

There are some other factors you need to be aware of when it comes to tiling. Generally it provides an extremely hard surface with minimal energy absorption. So if you drop glasses or dishes they will break on impact. A tile in itself is fairly durable (depending on the material) however the grout between the tiles can accumulate dirt over time so it must be maintained. You can use a grout sealer when necessary to keep your tiling and grouting looking immaculate. Tiles are also slippery when wet, so hidden spillages during cooking or a drying floor after cleaning may be a little hazardous.

Asethetic Considerations of Kitchen Tiling 

1. Colour

As mentioned previously, a floor in any space is an integral part of your conceptual ‘foundation’ pertaining to any creative design choices. So when contemplating your kitchen tiling colour you need to think big picture. Your floor should compliment and match the entire room and not just your backsplash or secondary wall tiling. Factor in any appliances, cupboards, accent colours and worktops into your colour decision-making process. If you have a pre-existing style or colour scheme, the floor needs to bring everything together, encompassing while simultaneously balancing your chosen aesthetic.

Most kitchen floor tiling is extremely durable meaning that it will stand rigors and tests of time. Consequently neutral colours are ideal, as they tend not to really age looks-wise and go out of style as the years progress. Neutral tones can also help to augment other colour accents and design features within your kitchen, drawing the initial focus elsewhere, at least initially, before the secondary visual layer of flooring becomes more apparent. The reaction between tiling colour and natural light is another dialogue to consider in your kitchen. If you have a large amount of natural light penetrating the space, then you can use that to your advantage, choosing lighter colours that will reflect this light and make the room feel larger. If you have a larger kitchen but less natural light, darker tones (that absorb light) can be used to help ‘contain’ the space making it feel slightly more compact.

2. Size and pattern

To use a musical analogy: if tiling colour is like a chord setting an emotional tone, tiling size and pattern is the rhythm of the composition, creating a kinetic and dynamic energy. To understand why this is so, we need to have a good grasp of the idea of tessellation. Tessellation of a flat surface is a covering using one or more geometric shapes (in this instance tiles) with no overlaps and no gaps. It is a system of repeated pattern where we take the individual unit and repeat it over and over again to form a bigger total surface. The tiles exist in syncopation, each one is like an individual drum beat and together they form a rhythmic pattern. To think of tiling in this way should open up new creative horizons for you in your kitchen.

There are all kinds of sizes and shapes to choose from, and an individual tile follows a modular pattern for each square meter. The tiles come in different dimensions and the size that you select will affect the perceived size of your kitchen. If your kitchen is small, then you should use wider and longer tiles to make the floor simpler and the surrounding space appear bigger. In a larger kitchen you can use thinner and smaller tiles to create contrasting a visual texture to the bigger surrounding spatial volume. Or if you wish to re-enforce the larger kitchen size, choose larger tiles as this gives a lower tile quantity hence ‘opening up’ the floor. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the size of your kitchen floor tile determines the amount of visible grout lines. Fewer grout lines create the illusion of more space, so again bigger tiles in smaller kitchens is a smart design idea.


14th October, 2020 Applied Art