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  • Writer's pictureAlan Pepin

Design Reads: Sensual Home by Ilse Crawford

Why it's a design classic: With its soothing photography of sparse, light-filled spaces by Martyn Thompson, Ilse Crawford's Sensual Home marked a pivotal moment in living peacefully with just the essentials.

Originally published in 1997, I remember being captivated by this inspirational book back in the days when I was product designer for Marshall Field's department store in Minneapolis. It felt very much like a glossy home magazine, and no wonder, Crawford was the original editor of Elle Decor magazine.

However, there was something more to this book. She not only spoke using seductive images, but covered all human senses, including out "sixth" sense; intuition.

Now more than 20 years old, it's even more relevant and enticing. You'll have to look to find it, as it's no longer in print. 

"it is by logic we prove, but it is by intuition we discover." - Henri Poincard

By experiencing our spaces through our senses, we really celebrate living. Crawford is suggesting that finding peaceful living in our home is to look more closely at how we interact with the textures, stillness, proportions, scents, light and energy contained within.

"Home is our emotional heartland - a place to restore our balance."

"Household tasks don't have to equal drudgery. If you think about them as cherishing your private world, they can be more than mere mechanical tasks and can become creative. Things that are cared for come to life and exist as more than just indifferent objects - they become friends." - page 32

"A room of one's own and a sense of self are interconnected. We need a place to dream in peace, for solitude and creative thought." - page 34

"Our homes are the still point in a spinning world. Have at least one room that you think of as a decompression chamber, a place for meditation." - page 38

"Many homes are so weighed down by clutter that those who live in them seem to be crowded out by the furniture. Yet we, rather than the decoration, should take center-stage; the home is a backdrop to our lives and not the other way round. Simplify, and embrace the irrational, the beautiful and the exciting." page 95

You can watch more of Ilse Crawford on Netflix's new documentary, Abstract:The Art of Design (Episode 8)


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