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Discovering Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Posted by Cristina Escofet on 13 Jul 2016

Glasgow, a city famous for the rain and cold opened its door to me and the sun last weekend.  As I watched the people walk through the streets, talking with smiles on their faces and the sun in their eyes, I started to understand the motivations of a man like Charles Rennie Mackintosh.  For in Glasgow the sun is a distant friend, something to rejoice when it visits, but not to be relied on.  The buildings of learning, work and home are the constants that provide shelter from the elements and it is to these that you add beauty and design.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born in 1868 in Glasgow and started as an apprentice to a local architect.  In combination with this he also attended evening classes at the Glasgow School of Art where he met his future wife and partner in work, Margaret McDonald.  Charles would later go on to achieve many things, but he is best known for his masterpiece, the Glasgow School of Art and his distinctive floral motifs that would later become the base of the Mackintosh or Glasgow style.  However my personal favourite is The Hill House in Helensborough, a commission from Walter Blackie to create a family home.

Glasgow School of Art facade Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Glasgow School of Art facade

While walking around The Hill House it was obvious to me that the Mackintosh's wanted to create a retreat for the Blackie family.  The house expresses all of the key architectural values and attention to detail whilst also providing insights into their understanding of how design and light can impact people's lives.

One example of this is in the house's orientation.  Charles designed the house so that the children's bedrooms get the first rays of light whilst the guests bedrooms face the opposite side, leaving guest more time to rest in comfort.  The tinted glass colours in the windows are also carefully chosen, mainly purple and pink to add warmth to the space and create a calming atmosphere.

Hill House interior Charles Rennie Mackintosh

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Hill house dining room charles rennie mackintoch

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Music room Hill House Charles Rennie Mackintosh

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I was constantly impressed by Charles' commitment to the small details of the house, from the furniture to the patterns in the wallpapers and of course the light fittings.  Made mostly with silver-painted brass and tinted glass, they are once again a representation of Mackintosh's characteristic style.

Hill House Charles Rennie Mackintosh

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