Elkus Manfredi Architects is kicking off our new series on inspiration walls, aka, where the magic happens – or begins. We’d love to see what wall, space, or install houses all your sources of wonder and feature it on www.boutiquedesign.com. Please contact associate editor AnnMarie Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to submit! But first, Elkus Manfredi’s principal and director of interior architecture Elizabeth Lowrey talks their ever-evolving “wall of ideas.”
How does yours measure up?…
Q: Where do you source these inspirations and how do you know when it’s time to remove one?
A: I find inspiration from all corners of my life — my travels, libraries, museums and galleries, the art world, food trends, conversations with colleagues and friends and definitely fashion. When I find something that inspires or impresses me, I’ll snap a picture on my phone to print or tear something right out of a magazine and up it goes, without too much thought to its placement. One of the pictures might become the kernel of a new project’s concept, so we’ll move it over to that project board leaving space for new inspiration. It’s an organic collage that is constantly circulating, blossoming and feeding more ideas.
Q: How does that technique encourage the unexpected in your designs? Does it help you stay ahead of the curve and spot trends?
A: Changing seasons; the way light streams through the wall of windows; the colors of Boston Harbor—they all influence the evolving aesthetic on the wall. Trends definitely start to emerge, threading their way through this visual bouquet of art and fashion alongside unexpected colors and materials. Those surprising combinations are what inspire fresh, edgy, refined, modern designs that are ahead of the curve.
Q: How does this process contribute to the collaborative nature amongst team members?
A: The wall is a catalyst for creativity. It’s not precious, anyone can stop in at any time to pin something up. If we get stuck in a session as we’re sitting around my work table, the team might pause to look up at the wall. Someone’s eye might fall on a nugget or an edgy juxtaposition, and that’s just the spark we needed.
Q: Do you have separate boards for Elkus Manfredi’s different project sectors?
A: Each project has a broad range of influences, regardless of its sector. I don’t like to segregate or silo ideas because you never know where that next muse might come from! So while each project has a board specific to that design program, my wall of ideas pools everything that inspires me and the team.
Q: Give us an example of how the idea board influenced a project’s design concept.
A: We’re currently designing a boutique hotel in Palm Beach with a fresh interpretation of the South Florida aesthetic. Our design had to remain authentic to the essence of Palm Beach while incorporating the aspirational lifestyle of today’s global jetsetter. Considering historical pictures of Addison Cairns Mizner’s architecture on Worth Avenue, sophisticated spaces from around the world, resort wear, residential work, and unexpected groupings from the wall helped facilitate discussions about the design. The result is the “new” Palm Beach: respectful of the unique history of the place while reflecting the mood, pulse, character, refinement, and ethos of the modern, sophisticated traveler.