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Interior Schemes

Interior of Mackintosh House © The Hunterian, University of Glasgow 2018

Whole interior schemes came into fashion through the influence of the Aesthetic Movement which sought harmony in design, perhaps the most controversial example of the time being Whistler’s Green Room. The interior schemes of artists’ homes, retail outlets such as Tearooms or settings from exhibition displays were reproduced in the journals of the day. Whole interior schemes allowed designers to be involved in every aspect, from carpets through to furniture, wall coverings, lighting and even cutlery in the case of Mackintosh and Walton. Almost all principal designers created or participated in interior schemes. 

Few images survive of George’ Walton’s first interior commission in 1888 for Miss Cranston’s Argyle Street Tea Room. The Buchanan Street Tearooms opened one year later in 1897, a commission shared with Mackintosh (who was responsible for the mural design, while Walton designed the majority of decorations, furnishings and fittings). These surprising interiors would introduce the city to a new style of furniture and interior design, vastly different to the norm of the day. The Billiard Room designed completely by Walton, featured heavy oak furniture and apple-green paneling, with a striking carpet framing the billiard table. The fireplace and Abingdon chairs include the flattened heart shape favoured by Walton and a medieval style frieze adorns the wall. In 1899 the first phase of the new school of art designed by Mackintosh opened. Externally the building references Scottish baronial architecture, yet Japanese influences are evident inside in the strong geometric forms and open-plan design, as seen in the Art School Library.


Wylie and Lochhead interiors from the 1901 Glasgow International Exhibition are brought to life from sources other than the few black and white photographs available. Reviews from The Studio (Vol. 23, 1901) and furniture featured at the exhibition which has turned up at auction, provide a colourful glimpse into the past. Rooms designed by Ednie, Logan and Taylor used variations on the colours purple, pink, green and grey. Butterflies, peacocks, droopy flowers, swallows and the Glasgow rose feature. The Studio review concluded the furniture had clearly been influenced by study of the best modern designers. 

The Rose Boudoir was an interior designed by Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald for the 1902 Turin International Exhibition, with The White Rose and the Red Rose gesso panel by Margaret Macdonald featured within it. This was sold at Christie’s in 2008 for £1.7 million. The interiors of the Mackintosh’s Florentine Terrace house where they lived from 1906 until 1914, re-created by the Hunterian would have appeared shockingly austere by Victorian standards yet feel modern, fresh and relevant today. White interiors would have provided a stark contrast to the fog and grime of the outside world. The bedroom from the Hill House, designed by Mackintosh, completed in 1904, shows a further light and delicate interior in white. It also features furniture in black and stronger, bolder geometric forms that form the emphasis of the Hall of Hill House. These interiors show the many influences of the Glasgow Style and it is useful to see objects in the context of whole decorative schemes. 


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