Chelsea Flower Show 2015: when the gardeners are inspired by Piet Mondrian!

Photo: Oleksii Popovskyi / Getty / Helen Guest / Alamy / Elaine Lesser
Photo: Oleksii Popovskyi / Getty / Helen Guest / Alamy / Elaine Lesser

The challenges of building a successful show garden for Chelsea are many. Such a project calls not for proficiency but for excellence across every discipline, from concept to construction, plant selection to plant placing and material choices to fabrication. So it’s a natural and necessary step for any designer embarking on this journey to enlist a team of collaborators who help drive up standards and test horizons of possibility. Marcus Barnett, designer of the Telegraph garden for Chelsea 2015, cites plants as a priority in all his projects. His design for Chelsea, in particular, demands considerable planting ingenuity to fulfil the vision.

The result is a hard-working, intensive space, pulsing with something of the rhythm of an art gallery’s changing exhibition and demonstrating that a small urban garden can deliver interest and beauty over a full year. This is a playground for the informed gardener, one who is seduced by the saturated hues and exotic structures of bulbs and annuals as well as perennials, and yearns to exercise their creative flair in different ways each year.

Planes of colour at different heights are designed to be viewed from the ground or from above, where an upper-storey balcony, for example, might offer a different perspective. The importance of visual “rests” becomes apparent, so we’ve used foliage in green, silver and burgundy, to build bridges and transition points between the intense primary hues. Marcus has a personal colour guru in his wife Louise, an accomplished portrait artist. Their discussions on colour chemistry and perception during the design process have contributed to the interpretation. While the colours are to be saturated and intense in accordance with De Stijl principles, nature has imposed a micro detailing in the interpretation through flower groupings. First impressions from a distance deliver rectangles of primary colours, but closer inspection and engagement with the garden reveals tonal variation and movement through the medium of flowers, which bring life and sensitivity to the interpretation.

Source: The Telegraph.


Could anything be cooler than a Mondrian inspired house in the middle of nowhere in Wales?

This family home nestled against the remnants of an ancient stone cottage on the Welsh coast features a composition inspired by the client’s interest in abstract art.


Cefn Castell is a three-bedroom property designed by Manchester-based architecture practice Stephenson Studio on the west coast of Wales, overlooking Cardigan Bay – an inlet from the Irish Sea.


The design of the house takes its cues from the client’s love of the linear patterns and block colours present in abstract art. Large expanses of transparent glass that maximise sea views are framed by sections of pristine white wall, defining the house into a series of boxes that mirror the regimented floor plan.

A primary-coloured Mondrian-styled painting that hangs on the wall of the living room is actually a simplified version of the building’s plan and outlines its grid-like organisation.


“The clients’ passion for art and sculpture was to be referred to in the design,” explained the architects. “The house plan is abstracted as a Mondrian-inspired painting, which is hung at the heart of the house.”


A small upper storey containing a master bedroom and balcony perches on top of the ground floor like an observation tower.


“The extrusion of the first floor references the maritime theme of coastal observation stations, whilst massing up the approach view of the house set within its own private walled courtyard,” said the architects.


At the rear of the property, a long outdoor walkway runs along a stone wall that is part of the ruins of a cottage that once stood on the site. Outdoor utility spaces including bin storage are located under a portico-like structure that brackets this pathway.


The stone wall extends out on either side of the new property, providing a perimeter wall and sheltering a patio by a glazed ground-floor bedroom at the rear. A sliver of glass runs along the roof of this bedroom, separating the new build from the ruins.


“The stone remains of a 400-year-old cottage were re-used for the new boundary wall, offering privacy and textural contrast of the traditional juxtaposing the new,” said the design team.


“The new house separates from the wall with a glass slot roof, visually suggesting the house delicately ‘kisses’ the wall,” the team added.

“The new house is a defining and epoch-making change to what existed previously. Elevations are about framing, layering of materials, and solid and void.”


A combined living room, kitchen and dining area occupies the front of the ground floor, nearest the sea. Two ground-floor bedrooms and a utility room can be separated from this open-plan space by pivoting wooden doors.


Floor-to-ceiling glazing slides back from the neutral-toned space onto a pale grey terrace in front of the property, and to the more secluded terrace to the rear.


A sliding glass screen opens to the external secluded courtyard into the plan of the living spaces. Two bedrooms have been arranged to provide closure of the plan to the private inner courtyard.

Photography is by Andrew Wall.

Source: de zeen magazine