Wednesday, 20 January 2010
In the early 1700's English design was influenced by French fashion. Chinoiserie was popular and the strong reds and yellows were due to particular types of metal thread that were widely available.
Silk Design by Anna Maria Gaithwaite 1740
As you can see the fashion for images of nature remained popular but by the 1730's designs were becoming more 3-Dimensional, this was possible due to a shading technique called 'points rentres' developed by the French in 1732.
Silk Design by Anna Maria Gaithwaite 1744
The work of Anna Maria Gaithwaite and James Leman helped to develop this distinctly English style of silk.
Samples from the order book of an unknown French Merchant from the early 1760's.
By 1760 the influence of French design returned with typical designs combining silk/lace/ribbon with floral motifs to create a stylised trompe-loeil effect.
By the late 1700's patterns had become much more geometric and abstract, neo-classical stripes and rosettes of formal flowers were popular, colours were predominately pastels although dramatic darker shades were also popular for a few years.
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
Exterior of the Houses - originally built in 1690 the facade and shop fronts were added in the mid 1700's by a Huguenot silk merchant and it was altered again in the 1830's when the windows were dropped on the first floor and an iron railing added. This railing has not survived but inspired the use of cast iron cladding on the back facade.
Raven Row consists of a modern gallery space in a newly built basement and refurbished historical rooms on the upper levels. Much of the building's interiors were destroyed by a fire but their damaged remains were left and they were able to restore them. Also a complete intact interior was discovered in Chicago, it had been sold to an American in the 20's and had survived in storage. The interior was returned to the building and painstakingly pieced back together over 6 weeks.
This fireplace is part on the original house from 1690.
The details such as the stair and door knob were inspired by materials and form found in the building. The stair is based on an 18C cantilevered stair but was formed out of concrete instead of stone to give it a contemporary twist and the handrail is based on the shape of the existing stair.
Along the Southbank walk it is easy to see how London has changed from an industrial city reliant on the Thames for success to a modern commercial centre and tourist destination. The converted warehouses of the Oxo Tower Wharf and Shad Thames are now luxury apartments, restaurants and boutiques. I think that the Oxo Wharf has been a very successful project, it was developed in the 1990's after facing demolition in the 70's and 80's. The architects were Liftschutz Davidson who won the RIBA award for Architecture for the project in 1997. I found the walk inspiring and I think that some of the projects such as the Tate Modern and Oxo Tower will be useful in my research.
The Design Museum
My final stop along the Southbank was the Design Museum to see the exhibition on David Chipperfield Architects. I was aware of his work before this project but it was only when I researched the Neues Museum that I became really interested in the practice. The exhibition explores Chipperfield's increasing interest in historical work and his sensitivity to architectural history and memory. I thought the exhibition was very good and it had a lot of information on the Neues Museum as well as an interview with David Chipperfield about the design of the project and the approach they took to restoration. The line drawings on the wall are graphically very strong but simple and represent the essence of his designs. I also really enjoyed the models on display and thought that they really added to the photography and drawings.
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
'Here they have found quiet and security, and settled themselves in their several trades and occupations; weavers especially. Whereby God's blessing surely is not only brought upon the parish by receiving poor strangers, but also a great advantage hath accrued to the whole nation by the rich manufactures of weaving silks and stuffs and camlets, which art they brought along with them. And this benefit also to the neighbourhood, that these strangers may serve for patterns of thrift, honesty, industry, and sobriety as well.'
The silk weavers mainly came from Lyon and Tours where the best quality silks were imported from, soon though the skills of the London silk weavers meant that some of the best silks in Europe were being manufactured in Britain. The refugees passed on their skills to local people and the area thrived. This is a drawing by William Hogarth from 1738 called Noon depicting the rich and godly French Huguenot's with the British residence of Spitalfield's.
In 1721 silk weaving was described as one of the countries main branches of manufacture. Parliament raised the tax on imported goods to further encourage the growth of local industry and in 1764 after protests from weavers they also reduced the import duty on raw silk and prohibited the importing of silk ribbons, stockings and gloves.
In Fournier Street many of the houses were owned by wealthy silk weavers. The looms would be in the generous roof spaces and the family would live below. To stop the noise of the looms from travelling through the house the weavers would stuff the spaces between the floorboards with silk throwsters waste. Throwsters waste is the virgin silk fibres that are discarded during the reeling process. When reeling the silk cocoons the fibres can become tangled and they have to be cut from the machine. This tangled fibres are still soft and lustrous but not any use for weaving. In modern crafts throwsters waste can be used to make felt, silk paper and as a quilting material. It comes either in it's natural state; still coated in the sericin gum from the cocoon or it can be cleaned. In it's clean state it can be spun to form silk yarn. I bought some of the cleaned throwsters waste:
I also pressed some of the fibres to try and create a material, it was quite successful but I think that it would unravel over time so I have decided to purchase some the uncleaned, natural waste to try and create a silk paper.
I really like the natural properties of the throwsters waste, it is very soft but also very strong and I would like to find a way to incorporate it into my project. For now I am going to continue to experiment with it.
Tuesday, 5 January 2010
Time-lapse video of the wrapping process:
Monday, 4 January 2010
Gilbert and George's Eastenders - Alistair McKay for the Evening Standard (31.01.07) talking to Gilbert and George
"Fournier Street was occupied by buttonmakers, furriers and hat-makers, and the area was Jewish. "The front doors were open all day," says George. "All the windows were open, so people would speak to each other from one side of the street to the other. Extraordinary antique behaviour. "This area has been everything. It's been a Roman cemetery, it's been part of the hospital for the returning Crusaders. It's been a manufacturing base for guns which, curiously, was staffed entirely by Germans. "In between the Jews and the Bangladeshis, it was briefly Maltese, then Somali. It was extraordinary when it was Maltese because they all had Alsatian dogs, they kept ferrets, they played cards all day."
Me and My Home: A House with History - Caroline Wingfield for the Independent talking to John Nicolson.
"The room in the basement, which is now the kitchen, was completely underground and I've restored it back to its original proportions. There was a staircase that came down from the shop above, but it was really just a tunnel that you could barely crawl in. It had originally been a room, and the fireplace is still there. We think it was used to dye silk and they would use the chimney for ventilation. The strange thing is that because they were very poor, the people who lived in the house didn't, as we would do, renovate by ripping everything out and replacing, they renovated by enclosing. So each new generation built walls across the walls and ceilings over the ceilings, floors on top of floors. So the whole thing gradually became like a Russian doll, all boxed in, and it was much smaller when I came than it is now. What I did was peel off layers: plastic wood, then hardboard, then metal sheeting, then layers of wallpaper and finally you got to the original panelling."
"The Huguenots used to hide horseshoes round the house and I've found four so far. After the discoveries, I decided to leave a time capsule in the house myself. I thought to myself, 'What would I like to find?' I thought I'd like to find who was in the house, what they thought about their period, what they thought about the house, where they came from, what their families' names were, what they thought about social attitudes at the time. When you think what this house has been through, it's been through wars and famine, through the Jacobite rising of 1745 - that was happening when this house was 30. I would love to know what the people living here thought about these big issues. So I put in some pictures of the way the house was before I renovated it and now, wrote about the job of renovating it, wrote about my job. I then wrapped it in plastic and put it in a wooden box. They'd have to do major work to find it, but if they did major work, they would find it."
At Home in the 18th Century - Caroline McGhie for the Telegraph talking to Dan Cruickshank
"All these streets were derelict in the early 1970s," he says. "The houses were gaunt, open to the sky and the street. I walked into this house over a pile of rubble and through that window." He points to the black shutters at the back of the house. It was incredible. Perfect. With rain pouring into buckets on the top floor. The families had left their furniture. The whole street was up for demolition. The fact that houses were listed meant nothing."
"Indeed the City Fringe is now so sought-after that it is no longer thought of as East London but as
"More money is being spent on them, but they are empty. These people come and go and don't make a community."
24 to 28 Fournier Street is at the end where it meets Brick Lane, opposite the Mosque. 24 to 26 is relatively modern warehouse style building which has recently been converted into offices. 28 is a gap between this modern building and 54 Brick Lane. The gap extends all the way back to Seven Stars Yard. It is currently being used as a garage and kitchen area for the restaurants on Brick Lane.
An Image of the site taken from Google Street View
I do not yet know exactly what I want to put on the site but I do want to continue my work on recording memory and history in buildings which I started with my earlier castings. I intend to design a new intervention for the gap (number 28) and also to propose alterations to 24-26. I want to use this historically interesting and unique street to explore my ideas on alteration, restoration and preservation. I hope that this will link into my research ideas and help me to understand the difficulties of designing in a historical context.