History has produced but a small coterie of architects and designers whose work continues to inspire us today. One person who figures prominently in this pantheon is Sir John Soane, the visionary British architect. Well versed in the Neoclassical style, Soane designed both private manor houses as well as public buildings (most notably the Bank of England). However, it is Soane's home at 12-14 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London (now known as Sir John Soane's Museum), that has inspired legions of fans through the years. Built in the late 18th c. and added on to during the early 19th c., the home is a sterling example of Soane's refined aesthetic and his no nonsense practicality.
There are a few rooms in particular that seem to enthrall visitors. The Breakfast Room is a marvel in design. In order to maximize the light in an otherwise dark space, Soane topped the room with a domed ceiling and oculus. He then added small convex mirrors throughout the room- in the archways, around the fireplace surround- to help reflect the light. It is highly effective and pleasing to the eye too.
The Library, characterized by segmented arches and Gothic accents, is noted for its rich Pompeiian red walls and bronze green trim. Trust me, the combination of these two rich colors is extremely handsome- you really have to see it in person to appreciate the complexity of the colors.
And I can't forget to mention Soane's collection of antiquities and architectural ruins, displayed en masse throughout the home: in the Dome Area; the Colonnade; the Sepulchral Chamber. It's staggering to think that one man is responsible for such an important collection!
So, how do modern day designers channel the spirit of Soane? Well, let me show you. And I'll add that I think Sir John Soane would be quite proud of their efforts.
An arch in the red and green Library of Sir John Soane
An homage to the Soane style, on a small scale, in a library designed by Josef Johns.
The home of Stephen Calloway. Note the rich red walls, the green trim, and trompe l'oeil painted arches.
Soane's Breakfast Room. Note the convex mirrors inset into the arches and the ceiling.
A detail shot of the ceiling of the Breakfast Room.
David Mlinaric designed this Soane-esque dining room/library in the home of Lord Rendlesham. Look at the marvelous ceiling.
A tribute to Soane's impressive collection in the flat of Peter Hone. Some of the antiquities and fragments are real, while others are faux (the columns on the walls are actually engravings that have been glued to the wall)
Another view of the Hone flat.