What is Mackintosh Style?
When the Scottish architect, designer, and artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) was commissioned to design and build Hill House, before “creating an elevation drawing or even a floor plan,” he spent a few days with the family of his client, Walter Blackie, in their then current home and observed their everyday life so he could “build from the inside out.” The focus on the lives of his clients didn’t stop after the construction had begun. For Mackintosh, building was not “a single creative act,” writes Barbara Bernard, but
a social process in which the adaptation of the original design to suit the changing needs of the client was vital. He altered the design of Hill House, for example, while building progressed, to accommodate a nursery for a new baby — an unexpected addition to the Blackie family.
In our custom furniture galleries, you can find individual pieces and projects that span entire homes created in this unique style. Some are replicas of Mackintosh’s own works; others are new pieces inspired by his designs. You can identify the Mackintosh style by its characteristic combination of right angles and floral motifs and its attention to the play of light and shadow.
To fully appreciate this project you need to see the numerous photographs of every nook and cranny in the kitchen on the project gallery page. You can also watch Patrick working on the kitchen, from research and planning to construction and completion, in the the following video, beginning at 4:08.
The straight lines, right angles, and floral motifs in this kitchen can be found in the cabinetry, light box, and even the curtains. (Like Frank Lloyd Wright, Mackintosh’s architectural designs included extensive specifications for the decoration and furnishing of his spaces). This combination of linear forms with natural motifs shows Mackintosh’s affinity with the Art Nouveau movement, which turned simultaneously to modern technological innovations and natural forms as a departure from the traditions of 19th century design.
In Japanese furniture, designed to bring a sense of calm and fit organically in a home’s space, Mackintosh found an appealing aesthetic. An important aspect of Japanese design was the use of light and shadow, as opposed to ornamentation, to engage those who would use the furniture and share its space.
The contrast of light and shadow that you can see in this kitchen window seat area by PCH Furniture & Design is neither accidental nor an afterthought. You can find the same play of light and shadow utilized on a larger scale in the buildings Mackintosh designed in his native city of Glasgow, Scotland, as this video demonstrates.
The eclectic nature of Mackintosh’s designs lends some adaptability to works inspired by his style. You can find custom furniture in our galleries that combines the Mackintosh style with Greene and Greene, Arts and Crafts, and Art Deco.
Interested in Mackintosh style for your home? Find local custom furniture makers through CustomMade’s “Location Search” and see if you can have your next project built “from the inside out.” If you’re planning a trip to Scotland, see if you can arrange a stay at the Hill House in Helensburgh.