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First a disclaimer:  these articles in this blog are written from passion rather from expertise.   Today, let’s explore design.  Interior Design.  I recently came across an old copy of Architectural Digest and as I leafed through the pages, I came across, Juan Pablo Molyneux.  It was a first encounter with this interior designer who is on the running to become my all-time favourite.   But before I decided that I liked his work, I just stared and stared into the pages holding the images that are in this post.  All the images you find above and below belong to the same house which was designed by Molyneux.

When I first beheld the pictures, in the order attached here, I kinda gasped.  All the rules, I thought I knew about Interior Design had been broken.  Actually, smashed to dust.  Whatever happened to the rule that one wall needs to be left empty so that the eye can rest?   The eye doesn’t rest in Molyneux-land.  The eye darts back and forth until hypnotized by the glorious excess of wonder.

Then there’s that unspoken rule that if the curtains be bold, then let the sofas be plain.  Or if the centre-piece is the carpet, loud and obnoxious, then let’s have plain, timid drapes.  But Molyneux never heard of the word compromise.  In the same room, (see top room above) he has bold floral curtains competing with loud and shiny black and white floor.  The same room has bright patterned sofas, some striped, some not.  The carpet in the same room calls for attention.  I would bet that this guy has a rebellious streak.  He digs up the rules so that he can break them.

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Then the question of accessories.  No wonder one cannot stop staring.  The accessories are so numerous that if you or I arranged them in our homes, they would cease to be accessories to become clutter.

Finally, the question of colour.  Most decorators will stick to one colour, sometimes two with a third accent colour.  In many such cases, the end product can be described as a yellow and blue living room or a brown bedroom.  Not Molyneux.  In his projects, it is often impossible to pin-point a colour scheme because there is none and anything goes.

If there any such thing as a maximalist, opposite of a minimalist, then that’s how I would describe the decorator.  He will use everything he learned in training at every design opportunity.  The miracle of the matter, the reason why his work is so hypnotic, is that it is harmonious.  Despite all the broken rules, things look good and the roving eye is happy to roam and does not want to rest.

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There are a few design lessons to be learnt from the work of Molyneux (more images in Architectural Digest).  Here are a few:

1.  Symmetry – Merriam-Webster Online describes symmetry thus:  correspondence in size, shape, and relative position of parts on opposite sides of a dividing line or median plane or about a center or axis.   Symmetry is a law of nature.  If you draw an invisible line from the middle of the forehead down to the chin or down to the body, you will discover that the left and right of the body are identical to the naked eye.  Scientists with powerful equipment will beg to differ.  But most of us do not go about our lives with powerful equipment.  That feature of left to right equalness brings about balance and beauty.  Tiny inbalances such as a small birthmark on one cheek sometimes bring about quirky beauty.  Large imbalances, such as one shorter leg produce disturbing imbalances such as limp, which are very noticeable for both watcher and owner.

Looking at object and accessories in Molyneux decor, you will find that he used perfect symmetry most of the time.  In decor, a tall lamp on the left can be balanced with a tall plant on the right side of a room.  But this decorator does not do shortcuts.  He uses a lamp on the left and an identical lamp on the other side.  Many arm chairs, stools and mirrors in his work are arranged in twos.  This is very relaxing to the observer and it will calm you before you know why.  It may also point out, in true feng shui fashion, that the decorator has a personal philosophy of twos, of couples, of balance in even numbers.  Bet you that he’s married and has never heard of empty space.

For normal folks who want to try this at home, I would warn that this style is expensive because of the fact that things are bought in twos.

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2.  The guy is bold, unapologetic, he goes all the way.  A Swahili saying goes thus: Ukitaka kula nguruwe, chagua aliyenona.  Referring to Muslims, the proverb suggests that if you are going to eat pork, you might as well choose a fattened one.   There is nothing shy about Molyneux work when it comes to the use of pattern or colour.  It is like meeting an opinionated person.  You hate their extreme opinions on anything, but your admire their consistency and faith in their opinions especially when they hold fast and long on to them.

In any work by Molyneux that is available online, the style is consistent.  The drapes are long and elegant like tall brides, the prints are common, the colours are rich and the pieces are numerous.  That’s his style.  Might he be a drama king?

His style is also large and most of his work is in large houses and castles.  I don’t know how this style would translate into a tiny flat.

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3.  The style is soft and comfortable – Molyneux does not use futuristic furniture.  His style is traditional and warm.  That means that there are no neon coloured, plasticky hard chairs.  I have also not seen much leather sofas in his work.  That means that most of his chairs and sofas as uphostered with fabric making them comfortable to sit and lie upon.  He used lots of wood.  Wood is warm.

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4.  Character – I think that doing things differently is the kind of thing that makes your space have character.  The character in Molyneux decor comes from bringing harmony by using so many elements – colour, symmettry, pattern and objects.  His style is definitely unique.

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