(design*sponge.guest blog) karen mccartney

Here is the latest instalment of the design*sponge guest blog post I did last year. The original post on Karen McCartney is here.

Interior books: pages to return to again and again

Yes, blogs and magazines are great. But I’m a book lover from way back. For me they will always have a special place in my home (one that’s getting increasingly cramped I might add!). And interior books are no exception. Before interviewing the two remarkable women below I re-read their books and was inspired all over again. My current project is decorating what has been labeled for so long the “front room”– my study and general dumping ground (I have to admit). I’m now filled with ideas to transform it into a nursery (with a little corner for my desk and a much larger wall for my books). I’m posting pics of my progress on Daily Imprint so keep an eye out.

Burst of inspiration: Karen McCartney
Editor of interior books Creative Homes (Harper Collins) and Iconic Australian Houses (Murdoch Books); also editorial director of Inside Out and Notebook magazines

How did the Creative Homes and Iconic Australian Houses books come about? Creative Homes was created from existing stories in Inside Out magazine. We took the line of creative people, and how they live, and I edited the selection of stories and wrote a forward and design notes at the back. Iconic Australian Houses was a much more demanding exercise. I took the book idea to Murdoch Books who commissioned it. I worked closely with photographer Michael Wee, art director Andrea Healy and editor Leta Keens. I had 16 months to find all the houses, arrange the photography, research and write the chapters plus a 6000-word forward. It was hard but a thoroughly rewarding experience, especially interviewing the architects themselves.

Photography Michael Wee

What did you want to achieve with them? Creative Homes was designed to celebrate the diversity of how people live creatively in Australia today. Iconic Australian Houses was to celebrate (and record) the work of forward-thinking Australian architects (working in the 1950-1970s) who have shaped architecture today.

What makes a great interior? Conviction.

Would you say there’s a distinctive Australian interior style such as Danish, Swedish, French, etc? If so, can you describe it? As with food Australia has created its own “fusion” style. The outdoors and hence “lifestyle” plays a predominant role in how we live and homes that cleverly connect inside and out are influential around the world.

What’s the most common mistake people make when decorating their home? Not allowing enough time. Good interiors ripen and develop and it can take several years for it all to come together. If you try to do it all in a weekend you end up with a show home.

Where do you look to for inspiration? I look to art, books, market stalls and my two favorite magazines – Italian Elle Décor and World of Interiors.

Who inspires you? My friend photographer Martyn Thompson.

How has your own personal interior style developed? It changed, from a sort of light industrial look, in 1996, when my husband and I started to buy 1940s Danish furniture at London auctions. We also bought art and furniture from student shows – things that we still love today.

How would you describe your home? After renting in Sydney for a couple of years we bought the Bruce Rickard house we still live in. The place dictates something of the style – it is timber, brick and glass – so demands natural tones. The Danish furniture is low and looks modest and quietly special (like the house) and we have added some modern pieces such as a Hella Jongerius sofa from Vitra. We seem unable to resist chairs and bowls – so the house is short of neither.

What are you passionate about? I love it when you see a new design that feels like a future classic – the Konstanin Grcic Diana tables (at Anibou) in powder-coated steel are a good recent example.