Curating A Happier You with Rory Macpherson
Posted on April 28 2016
This week we met architectural and interior design expert Rory Macpherson, founder of Play Associates.
Play are a multi disciplinary design practice specialising in interior architecture. They create intelligent, warm and atmospheric spaces that enhance the experience of everyday life. Their exploration of people’s experience and connection to their interior environment is truly unique.
Above: Rory Macpherson
Rory believes in the power of colour, texture, natural materials and bringing natural elements into the built environment. Natural settings can act as restorative environments, shown to have psychological and physiological benefits not only in attentions restoration, but also in increasing positive emotions, decreasing blood pressure, and decreasing feelings of anger and depression.
We were very intrigued by this concept so we sat down with Rory to find out more about how, with just a few tweaks to our homes and office, we could easily increase our productivity and well-being!
Read on to learn more...
CL: Tell us a bit about your background.
RM: After graduating from Inchbald, where I studied architectural interior design, I went on to work for an exclusive practice designing high end homes and yachts in the UK and Italy. I set up Play Associates in 2011 and Play Property in 2014.
CL: Tell us about Play? What’s your philosophy?
RM: We are a multi disciplinary design practice specialising in interior architecture. Our core team is intentionally small and we collaborate with a diverse group of architects, product designers and landscapers on specific projects.
We like to create intelligent, warm and atmospheric spaces that enhance the experience of everyday life. We explore people’s experience and connection to their interior environment and look at how our spaces can affect us in a positive way. We seek a holistic practice of design that not only embraces the ecological effects of the fittings, furniture, and equipment used, but also the psychological. We pursue good design that works for both people and planet.
Above: Rory's Townhouse project, Primrose Hill
CL: What are some projects you are currently working on?
RM: Our current projects include a micro ‘wellness' apartment, a large office for a socially positive company in Kings Cross, a townhouse in Notting Hill and a portable sensory space exploring sensory therapy. We recently completed an office space for a VC tech firm in Farringdon. They wanted to create a warm, vibrant and ‘home like’ office that actively incorporated nature and natural materials. We re-imagined their space, creating a flexible and uplifting environment using reclaimed timbers, partitioning which doubled as joinery, an abundance of greenery, adaptable layered lighting and a ban on conventional ‘office’ furniture!
Above: A Play-designed office space, Farringdon
CL: What changes can people make, or what should they consider in their home design and architecture to help improve health and wellbeing?
RM: We inhale approximately 25,000 times a day, equating to around 1100 litres of air and the WHO (World Health Organisation) estimates 50% of all illness is caused by indoor air pollutants. With this in mind, actively trying to improve air quality is important. Air purification can be very simple from low tech carbon filters to more sophisticated systems integrated into the build environment.
Getting the lighting right is also very important. There’s obviously the aesthetic and functional considerations but increasingly we are aware of the non-visual effects of lighting. The right kind of light, at the right time, can stabilise our hormonal rhythms, enhance night-time melatonin secretion, improve sleep quality, increase day-time vigilance and raise our resilience to stress. Light is the most powerful regulator of the day-night-rhythm of people, and has the power to energise, relax, increase alertness, improve our cognition, and mood. Its an interesting time for lighting technology with increasing amounts of LED fittings having tunable temperature control as well as standard brightness. Controlling natural light well is equally important; helping natural light to fill through a space when needed and blocking it out completely when sleeping.
CL: What should people consider in their interior design?
RM: Happiness is very subjective and everyone will have their own sense of an interior setting, which makes them feel positive. For instance some people find clutter suffocating and oppressive and for others; clutterists, it’s inspiring and holds patterns and tells stories. Colour can be equally divisive and its fascinating to see how people react to colour – it can be very powerful. Part of our design process is trying to find out what it is people respond most positively to.
We strongly advocate the use of non toxic materials, particularly paints which often contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which have various associated health risks. Building materials, carpets, fabrics and vynls can also omit VOCs. We always try and specify non-toxic materials, ideally with positive ecological impact.
CL: What are some good ways of incorporating nature into the home and work environment?
RM: Natural settings can act as restorative environments, shown to have psychological and physiological benefits not only in attentions restoration, but also in increasing positive emotions, decreasing blood pressure, and decreasing feelings of anger and depression. Some call this ‘biophilic design’ or ‘Biophilla’, the introduction of natural elements into the built environment . The driving hypothesis is simple: people just feel better when they are closer to nature.
Furthermore indoor plants can cause significant improvements of air quality through reducing CO2. The introduction of plants also reduces airborne dust, bacteria, and mold, which could otherwise be inhaled. Plants can also aid in the reduction of man-made toxins from interior finishes and cleaning products.
Ways of incorporating nature into an interior setting include natural plants, water features, natural materials and elements such as wood and stone, and using textured fabrics, which reference or feature textures found in nature.
CL: What is your signature style when it comes to interiors?
RM: We like to play with proportion through architectural detail and love the use colour and texture, but importantly we want our designs to last the test of time, no fads - just honest, beautiful design.
CL: What interior trends are we seeing for 2016 and beyond? What are you loving? Not loving?
RM: Designers have been promoting the use of varied metal finishes for a while and it seems now to have transcended down to clients who now actively request them. Aged finishes with patinas are also popular and can look great when properly applied. People are also using more eclectic and bold table and glassware when entertaining.