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art first interior design project

Inside An ‘Art First’ Interior Design Project – Edinburgh New Town


Curious Egg was born out of my passionate belief in the power of art to make life better.  Our homes are our sanctuaries – the place we retreat to after a busy day, where we feel safe and can truly be ourselves. The things we choose to surround ourselves with at home play an important role in telling our unique personal stories, capturing our memories and reflecting who we are.

Often when we think of interior design there’s a tendency to imagine a colouring by numbers, identikit formula approach where everything is carefully co-ordinated to match and neatly packaged up in the designer’s signature style or according to their latest whim. All too often the usual design approach results in an interior that looks like something we would find in a glossy hotel where we’re afraid to sit on the furniture or mark the surfaces and the designer fixtures and fittings feel more at home than we do. A glossy hotel can be a great temporary escape of course – a glamourous place where we can pretend to be someone else for a day or two – but there’s nothing like coming home.

It seems to me that this approach to interior design is an expensive way to rub out any trace of our individuality and trade it for a slice of generic blandness – which doesn’t seem like a great deal to me. As an artist, my approach to creating spaces has always been very different to this – starting with the people and the place.

My first step is always to find out as much as possible about the people who will use the space or live in it; their style, their values, how they see themselves, their quirks and habits and of course their limits! Next, I look at place. The location of the space in a wider context – within the house, the town or city and then the country. This, as well as observing its unique qualities such as natural light or wonky walls, tells me about its potential to become the client’s vision in terms of how they want to feel in the space when it’s complete. It helps me decide which elements to keep and which to change up and improve upon; the materials, colours or textures I might use to create a certain sensation or experience.


diagram of art at the centre of design curious egg

All of these things are brought together in a circular (not a linear) plan of action. N.B the shape of the plan is important (!) I organise my thoughts and observations into a circle and by placing art at the centre of the design process ‘wheel’, I can take on a much more creative approach by integrating it into the fabric of the space from the beginning rather than a decorative ‘bauble’ at the end. Art has a unique ability to tell a story in a way design objects can’t. It’s one of the best ways to truly bring out people’s personalities and also to create a little theatre in the home.

This creative approach isn’t always high- tech, but it allows me to be flexible and responsive to the client’s changing needs as well as the physical character of the space – creating bespoke pieces and finishes if required and problem solving creatively throughout the project. I feel this results in a home that is built with the most important ingredients: love, emotion and individuality creating a place that is meaningful to the people that will live there.

We were recently appointed to complete a large scale interior transformation in a traditional three bedroom flat in the New Town area of Edinburgh. It’s a beautiful characterful property and I think, possibly one of the most challenging projects that we’ve taken on so far in terms of its scale and the fact that all the spaces need to be transformed simultaneously in a very limited period of time. I think documenting the project from start to finish will be a good way to illustrate our Art First approach to interior design, so I have asked our super talented summer intern Genevieve to do just that.

We would like to share all the ups and downs and ins and outs of the project and the various triumphs and challenges we face and hope to provide an inside, up close view of our process and what we mean by Art First design We’ll be posting regular updates as well as live stories on Instagram from the site – apologies in advance for any involuntary swearing ; )

Over to you Genevieve!…..

About The Lorraine Aaron

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