critical reflections
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critical reflections

Granary, Grimentz, Valais, Switzerland, 16th century © Thomas Deckker 2023
Was Vitruvius Right?
2024

Aurelio Galfetti: Castelgrande, Bellinzona 1986 © Thomas Deckker 1996
Two Castles in Switzerland
2023

Nouveau plan de la ville de Paris 1828 © David Rumsey Maps
The Arcades Project
2023

Derelict Building, Kings Cross photo © Thomas Deckker 1988
Henri Labrouste and the construction of mills
2023

Claude-Nicolas Ledoux: Barrière St Martin, Paris (1785-1790) from Daniel Ramée: C.N. Ledoux, l'architecture (Paris 1847)
The Barrière de la Villette: the Sublime and the Beautiful
2022

Vauban: Neuf Brisach
Neuf Brisach: The Art of War
2022

Lucio Costa: Competition sketch for the Esplanada dos Minstérios, Brasília 1956
Did Lucio Costa know the Queen Mother?
2022

Vaux-le-Vicomte, Entrance Court, engraving by Israel Sylvestre
Vaux-le-Vicomte: Architecture and Astronomy
2022

Edzell Castle, Ground Floor Plan, from MacGibbon and Ross: The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland
Edzell Castle: Architecture and Treatises in Late 16th Century Scotland
2022

Capability Brown: Plan for Petworth Park from Dorothy Stroud: Capabilty Brown
The Upperton Monument, Petworth
2022

Isamu Noguchi: maquette for Riverside Drive c. 1961
Isamu Noguchi: useless architecture
2022

Jürgen Joedicke: Architecture since 1945: sources and directions (London: Pall Mall Press 1969)
Gottfried Böhm: master of concrete
2021

Thomas Deckker Architect: temporary truck stop, M20
Lorry Drivers are human, too
2021

Marc-Antoine Laugier: Essai sur l'Architecture
John Onians: ‘Architecture, Metaphor and the Mind’
2021

Sir John Vanbrugh: Seaton Delaval, Northumberland (1720–28) from Colen Campbell: Vitruvius Britannicus vol 3 (1725)
Seaton Delaval: the aesthetic castle
2021

Jules Hardouin-Mansart: Les Invalides, Paris (1676) Section showing the double dome
The Temple of Apollo at Stourhead: Architecture and Astronomy
2021

Eric de Maré: Fishermen’s huts, Hastings (1956) © Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Library Photographs Collection
Eric de Maré: The Extraordinary Aesthetics of the Ordinary
2021

Iannis Xenakis: score for Syrmos, for string orchestra (1959) © Editions Salabert E. A. S. 17516
Iannis Xenakis: Music, Architecture and War
2021

United Visual Artists: Etymologies 2017 © United Visual Artists
United Visual Artists
2020

Margaret Howell: Campaign 2020 © Margaret Howell
Margaret Howell
2020

Palaces of Darius and Xerxes, Persepolis, Iran
The Plans of Antiquity
2020

Cristobal Balenciaga: Skirt Suit, 1964 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Cristobal Balenciaga
2020

Mathias Goeritz: La serpiente de El Eco, 1953 © Sothebys
Mathias Goeritz: 'Emotional Architecture'
2020

Richard Serra: Weight and Measure 1992 © Richard Serra
Weight and Measure
2020

Tony Smith: Playround, 1962 © Tony Smith Estate
Tony Smith: Art and Experience
2020

Highway Construction © Caterpillar Archives
Landscape and Infrastructure
2020

Frank Gohlke: Lightning Flash, Lamesa, Texas © Frank Gohlke
Grain Elevators
2020

Margaret Howell: Campaign 2020 © Margaret Howell
Margaret Howell: Campaign 2020
© Margaret Howell photo Jack Davison

Margaret Howell

The architect Adolf Loos, practising in Vienna during one of the most artistically fertile periods of European architecture - the decades before WWI - made a profound observation on dress: clothes should be designed and made for the purpose (that includes beauty, status and ceremony as well as use) for which they were they were intended, not follow fashion with trivial decoration. His ideal mens' clothes were those made by master tailors in Saville Row, who perfected functional clothes, such as the Norfolk Jacket, through craftsmanship in cutting and sewing in supreme quality cloth. These clothes, as they were worn for a function and suited that function, did not need to change every season, but continued year after year with minimal variations.

Since the ready-to-wear revolution in the 1960s, these ideals of form and function have been overwhelmed by cheap materials and commercialised fashion. One of the few who resisted this trend, Margaret Howell, is, without doubt, one of the most serious clothes designers today. She strikes a balance, in her clothes, between function and subtle variations in design that respond to moods and interests. Beyond designing, she celebrates the role of craft in materials and workmanship. Her workshop is in Edmonton, a north London suburb; this part of London is developing - or more likely re-emerging - as a centre of the quality rag trade (such as the celebrated denim workshop Blackhorse Lane Ateliers in Walthamstow). She sponsors and collaborates with equally outstanding designers and craftspeople: at the moment 'Paul and Marjorie Abbatt: Pioneers of the Modern Toy in Britain' (with a catalogue written by Alan Powers and published by Design for Today); other collaborators include John Smedley, Barbour, Anglepoise and Ercol.

Margaret Howell says of herself:
I think of myself as a hands-on designer. For me make is integral to my design philosophy. It is crucial how a piece of clothing feels when worn. I’ve always wanted clothes to be the way I drew them – relaxed and lived in, a natural look. I find men’s clothes interesting in their structure, feel and functionality. I started by designing men’s clothes, and then found that women wanted them...

I enjoy pulling these threads of British tradition, quality and skill together in clothes that are meant to be worn in the real world, where good design is about living with thoughtful style.
The Margaret Howell shop may be found here.

The Margaret Howell shop, London

Margaret Howell shopfront photo © Thomas Deckker 2020
Margaret Howell shopfront photo © Thomas Deckker 2020
Margaret Howell shopfront photo © Thomas Deckker 2020
Margaret Howell shopfronts
photos © Thomas Deckker 2020
Margaret Howell has a beautiful shop designed by William Russell of Pentagram, with two shop windows on Wigmore Street, London W1. The building was originally built as the Bechstein Hall and piano showroom between 1899 and 1901; the hall is now the Wigmore Hall. Not only is the Wigmore Hall one of the best venues for chamber, instrumental and vocal music in the world but the shop benefits from wonderful natural light through a skylight (just visible in the lower photos). Incidentally, Loos designed a shop for a renowned tailor, Knize, in Vienna which brought together his loves of architecture and clothes.
Thomas Deckker
London 2020