Bold or discreet?

So, I was watching Antiques Roadshow the other day. It doesn’t happen often, but I am aware that every once in a while something grabs your attention. And it’s always a bit of fun to watch people’s faces when they find out what their hoardings are worth.

A chap rocked up with a piece of furniture that he’d bought in an auction in the hope that it was a Pugin. He’d taken a £700 punt on something that might be worth ten times that. And he was a bit of an expert in as much as he spends his life in Westminster Palace that is choc full of work by Augustus Pugin, a celebrated architect and designer.

Now it was a finely made piece, and exhibited some very original and interesting jointing. The TV expert mentioned that is was part of Pugin’s philosophy that you should be able to see and understand how a piece is made, just by looking at it. Nothing should be hidden.


Now one of the last people who thought like that created the Lloyds Building, putting all the ducting and pipework on the outside. Dubbed “Bowellism” by some critics, it was not universally popular. Sir Richard Rogers probably disagrees, but let’s just say you wouldn’t call it elegant.

Style and taste are very much a matter of opinion, and for sure neither the LLoyds Building nor the similarly extruded Pompidou Centre are not nearly as controversial as they were when they were created. But where is the subtlety? Where is the humility? Where is the quiet confidence of not having to put it all on display all at once? (Love Island watchers will know exactly what I’m talking about here, apparently!)

You can follow the Pugin style, put everything out front, or you can let some of what you do remain a mystery, hidden away to be discovered at a later date. Subtle, calm…

There is furniture that makes a big loud noise the moment you see it, and there is furniture with depth. The choice as a designer-maker is always yours.

And no more analogies! 

Until next time,



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