05/01/2016No Comments

Inspiration – Best small spaces of 2015

I've always had a thing for small spaces and buildings. For others large open spaces are brilliant, and I agree to a degree, but I think small scale architecture is really a work of art. I love the idea that no space is spared, and each area has been very cleverly designed and thought though in order to maximise the space.

small spaces outbuilding garden house room diyCosy home-made outbuilding.

So when this feature on Dwell popped-up, I thought it was worth a mention....

Most Popular Homes of 2015: Small Spaces

The article features apartments, outbuildings and floating homes, however my favourite has to be the home inside a grain silo!

house grain silo small spaces homeYou wouldn't expect a home here!

The house features all the things you'd expect in a home, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and living areas, but the really amazing part is just how brilliant it looks, and actually how spacious it appears to be!

house grain silo small spaces home kitchen livingroom livingFantastic custom walnut and black metal kitchen and stairs!

The 190 square foot space apparently all custom made, with the Eames Wire Chairs being the only non-custom items, very impressive! The contrast between the wood and black metal work is also very nice, and it's a real credit to the owner in their boldness and design to use these dark colours without making the space feel small and claustrophobic.

house grain silo small spaces home garden outside landscapeThe beautiful landscape garden.

Overall the building is incredible in almost every sense, and the attention to detail is fantastic! It really is a unique use of a very unusual building, and perhaps we as a society and culture should embrace these structures more. The individuality in this building is what makes it what it is, so don't try to copy it, instead be inspired!

So that's a little bit of inspiration for the start of 2016! To read more about the converted grain silo home, check out the Dwell article. I'll be sure to blog more about these incredible small buildings and architecture in 2016!



11/06/2015No Comments

May Design 2015 – Personal Highlight – Randonneur Chair

Last month I visited May Design by the London Docklands, and what a cracking exhibition it was. I had never been before, and although I had read the website and see the previews, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. True to its website, there was a mix of furniture, interiors, kitchen, bathroom, fabrics, and much more.

I found so much inspiration from all areas of the exhibition, and met many people, but one piece which really stood out for me was the Randonneur Chair.


I stumbled across this fantastic retro cycle inspired rocking chair in the new designers area, surrounded by other great new pieces I must say. The chair is unlike any rocking chair I have seen, and perhaps with my recent interest in cycling (I ditched the car for a cycle over a year ago to commute), I was drawn to this chair like a magpie to something shiny! Saying that though, it isn't that shiny, it's much softer, and inviting. The mixture of fabrics, wood and metal (Reynolds 631 tubing, as used on cycles) compliment each other brilliantly, it really is a thing of beauty!


The curved handle bars are the most obvious reference to the bicycle, as are the bottle holders, however once you examine the form you'll see more similarities with the bicycle. The front "leg" of the chair, and the two connecting bars are directly inspired from the cycles front frame and forks. Also the leather bag on the rear of the seat could easily be a retro style saddle bag.


The attention to detail on this chair is amazing, and really has to been seen to fully appreciate the craftsmanship in creating a chair like this. Sadly I didn't get the chance to sit in the chair, but perhaps, as with many great chairs, you could sit in it, but it's far better to stand and simply view the chair as a work of art.

Please head over to www.twomakers.co.uk to know more about this chair, and the two guys behind it!


I'm off for a ride,


12/01/2013No Comments

Using photographic references is the key in CG!

It's no great secret that the key to creating beautiful images and animations lies with using great reference material. References come in all forms; drawings, sketches, videos, but the one area which is always very important is photography.

We all need direction, and it's often little use just relying on our own perception of something, or even using our memories. We are by nature, biased, and our memories can be hazy at best, and as such can't really be relied upon. So how can we be sure that what we are creating is correct if we only use our brain? Well to put it simply, we can't! This isn't to say that it's wrong to use your head and imagination, sometimes accuracy isn't important and we can create beautiful things without directly using reference materials at all.

However, as with many visualisations, including architecture and product based projects, accuracy is very important, and without accuracy often we find ourselves questioning each other as to what exactly is "right". One person's right might be another person's wrong, and all this leads to confusion, compromise and often wasting time. So this is where references are important.

Photographic references can be used for just about every part of a visualisation project, from how something should look in, to how a visualisation feels, is lit and graded. CAD drawings and sketches are great for accuracy, but sometimes can be very clinical, or perhaps missing the finer details, so using photographic references along side other material will generally result in a much nicer and more accurate finish.

When lighting, grading and trying to achieve a certain "feel" to a visualisation, photo references are still just as important. Traditional photography can be very straight-laced, or very creative and experimental. These varying styles used in traditional photography filter down to the CG industries and artists, and using these photo references for all styles of visualisations is important, not only for the creative, moody visualisations, but also the typical day-time shots too. Again it's all about seeing the finer details, as well as the whole picture, and not relying on memories and experiences to direct us.

I would say however, that photographic references are probably most important when it comes to working with other professions. Using references through-out a job can give clear direction to both clients and professionals. Both sides know what to expect and what to aim for. More often than not, the desired out-come will be achieved quicker and to a much better standard.

So what really prompted me to write this post? Well I initially thought I would share some references I recently found useful, and also possibly go through the best places to start looking for them for future projects, but then I thought that just showing others what I've found isn't overly useful, unless you understand where I'm coming from, and you might think I'm a bit strange posting links to random photos!

I came across this set of photo references of metal cladding when looking for references for an architectural project. These images are absolutely perfect for reference images, and well worth bookmarking, but why? When I'm looking for references, I want to see how the thing looks close-up, far away, in context, in different lighting situations, variations, and pretty much anything else that gives me a better understanding on how to recreate things in 3D. The resolution of the photographs isn't always that important, if you are using a reference for lighting or mood, then low resolution images are fine, but if you want to see every detail of something, then obviously the higher the resolution the better.


Flickr is great for reference images, the content is great, and often the photographs are of high resolution. Also Flickr supports the Creative Commons licencing, and user can choose to opt in if the wish, allowing their images to be used in commercial projects if the licence allows. Flickr is usually the first place I look and often does the trick.

Googling for photographs can also bring nice results, although it is very hit and miss, and often the images are of low resolution as these images are usually from webpages where they have been re-sized. Also anything gathered from Google will generally be under copyright, so you wont be able to use the images other than to look at.

Various other blogs exist that are useful for references. Just Google search for a blog, and one will surely come up, but here are a few I check regularly. Architecture Paste Book is almost like a digest of other blogs and websites, and provides you with a mix of subjects and styles. Although it isn't too useful if you have something specific you need to find, it can be great if you are looking for inspiration or new ideas. Design Boom is a mixed genre blog which I find inspiring to view. It can often lead you astray with interesting articles and fascinating designs, but that's half the fun with this blog, you are never sure what it'll take you too! Finally in this short list is Architonic. It nicely describes it's self as "The Independent Resource For Architecture And Design", and like Design Boom has a mixture of architecture and design, but Archit0nic is more structured and designed to be an aid to professionals, making it easy to search by manufacturer, designer, material to name a few.

I hope that gives an insight into why I think using photographic references in CG is so important, some of the on-line reference I find useful, and just a general overview too. This post has focused on what the web can bring to using photographic references, mainly because the web is so easy to use and will often give brilliant results, but don't also forget to surround your self with books and magazines and also pick up your camera and taking some pictures yourself!





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