I think I've always be inspired by small, clever design. I've never been the type of person who thinks bigger is better, I drive a small car, live in a small house, and of course live in the UK, where space is always at a premium.
I find small spaces very inspiring, and this inspiration literally comes in all shapes and sizes. Recently I have found myself being fascinated by incredibly clever and beautiful design that utilises very small spaces. I love the constraints of small spaces, and the challenges they give. Living in a small house perhaps give me a personal connection, and a need to learn and be excited by how others have developed small spaces.
Designing for large spaces where space plentiful is still a great challenge, but when a small space needs to be functional as well as look good, then it becomes very tricky, but very interesting. I love these small spaces and the thought and design that been put into them, from the hidden storage, to the flexible living spaces. Every inch is treasured, and none is wasted.
www.hankboughtabus.com is something I stumbled across a few months ago, and was immediately in awe of. From the outside it looks like a classic America school bus, but when viewing the inside you can the incredible transformation of spaced achieved by Hank. The converted bus is used as a mobile home and a base for a road trip.
Instead of Hank designing a huge building for his final year project, he instead set about creating a design that he could create, build and actually make use of.
One of the reasons I love this space, is the unexpected. From outside you would never expect to see what lies behind the windows. The external metal shell of the bus is still complete, but the inside is where the transformation to modern, warm and homely design happens. The simple and straight forward design gives a very functional, rather than a design classic feel, however in using simple, but beautiful materials, the design has it's own unique beauty. I personally love the curved ceiling, the way the arch disappears behind the horizontal panel is fantastic, and I love that there are no visible fixings holding the ceiling in place. Perhaps for some, it will be a step too far towards the function over form, but for me it strikes a good balance, and perhaps you can see where a limited budget has left its mark, but in saying that, if Hank had been more elaborate and intricate, then I'm sure a lot of the buses charm would be lost.
The other part of the design I also love is how Hank has made the layout as flexible as possible. The beds, seats and other furniture are all easily manoeuvrable so the spaces can be re-jigged to suit individual needs, and can also be easily transformed for different functions too.
Another source of inspiration for me is "George Clark's Amazing Spaces" TV show.
Again, like Hank's bus, the spaces shown in this TV show are small, in some cases much smaller than the bus, but equally they are beautiful small spaces. The projects range from beach huts to modular pre-fab buildings, like the one shown below.
Throughout the series, many different projects are explored, but the project which connects each TV show is George Clarke's caravan. The series documents the conversion of a tired and dated 1979 static holiday caravan into a desirable, modern holiday home for a family of 5!
The caravan features some very clever design, such as the way the outside wall of the caravan folds down to create an external decked area, but perhaps the most inspiring use of space in my opinion comes from the way the the sleeping space has been designed. In a space barely large enough for a double bed, a total of 4 beds (1 double, 3 singles) have been squeezed and manipulated into the tiny space. To see how this is possible, you should check out Episode 6 on 4OD.
When working with CG projects, it's very easy to lose all sense of scale. The digital worlds in which I work can be infinitely large, which can literally means any thing is possible. Sometimes it's good to take a step back and give yourself some constraints, and by doing so it means you think more intelligently about the space or design, and you often find this makes projects more interesting and beautiful. This is especially true with interior visualisations, sometimes the easiest option is to create a room so large we can literally fit anything in we want, but this just doesn't happen in the real world, and views of the image or animation will notice this and won't connect with the images. Instead, using a realistic scaled room, beautifully designed and well planned, will engage and draw viewers in.
I could be talking nonsense, but that's my theory anyway!