As a child I grew up surrounded by both innovative and traditional design. My father, Jim Roberts, was an architect famous for pushing architectural boundaries. He worked primarily within the commercial sector however his passion projects where in the restoration market. I would sit in our home of beautiful antique furniture and muse at my father's drawings. I specifically remember his futuristic plans for a cylindrical high-rise building, the Rotunda in Birmingham- which once completed I discovered to be a perfect launch pad for paper aeroplanes. This background has heavily influenced my career and especially my passion for combining traditional and contemporary design. It is a style that is difficult to master as each element has to balance perfectly, however when achieved can be incredibly rewarding.
As a designer, I like to work from the skeleton of a building and incorporate the client’s lifestyle and preferred aesthetic. I feel that recently we have started to lose our architectural identities. Formulaic buildings are popping up all over the world stripping their surroundings of cultural roots. This is not to say that there aren’t any fantastic architects or fresh projects out there (large commercial architecture has produced a variety of groundbreaking structures) but I believe it is very important that the small or old isn’t forgotten among the big or new. Architecturally, I think now more that ever it is important to adapt our run-down buildings to the 21st Century rather than replace them. Unfortunately, creating these spaces can, admittedly, come at a higher cost than building anew but hopefully people are starting to see the long-term benefits and necessity to invest.
Modern minimalism with its order and pristine finish can be stunning however I feel there is always something that I'm drawn to in a building that has been around for a while. I find that buildings that have had a previous life, or even many previous lives, carry a magic and character that is near impossible to simply create or ‘design’. The beauty of traditional/contemporary design is being able to pick and choose, we can eliminate all the bad bits and play with the good. We can have our cake and eat it.
There are a lot of benefits for the interior and exterior by introducing simple luxuries such as light. In many old buildings the windows are pokey and there is little natural light to see the structure’s internal beauty but that can now be improved by building with glass and incorporating portals of sunlight to reveal it all. We can have fun and extend from existing structures as well as open them up inside to create beautiful modern spaces (otherwise known as playgrounds for the interior designer).
As an interior designer I believe my passion for this combination of old and new is fuelled by its allowance for a customer to make their mark on the design. It is very fulfilling to create a space that is aesthetically beautiful, practical and personal to an individual. Antique furniture doesn’t have to make way for a modern house and vice versa. I find it fun to play with mixing textures, colours and shapes. It is an exciting process and can be very liberating in comparison to ultra-modern and strict traditional. I guess you could compare it to the feeling of breaking the rules and getting away with it.
I think that in a time where design and technology is advancing so fast it is very comforting to have spaces that allow you to appreciate the past as well as the present and future.