The Architecture & Design club dates from 1999 when the University ran a series of seminars, during Glasgow’s year as City of Architecture and Design. Now in our 20th year, we are pleased to bring you a diverse and interesting programme of talks and visits for this coming year.
Committee Members 2019-20
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Real Houses Fit for Human Beings
10 October 2019
Dr Ailsa Boyd, an independent researcher, discussed a Victorian interior design movement of the 1860’s, in which there was a belief that tasteful decoration had a beneficial effect on the health of society. She illustrated this with examples by Owen Jones, who was one of the most influential design theorists of the 19th century and decorated the house of the great novelist George Eliot, and also by our own Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson, who put these beliefs into practice here in Glasgow.
It was a fascinating glimpse into the Victorian mind which led into the later Arts & Crafts movement. They wished decoration to have ‘repose’ – and she showed an example of an Owen Jones wallpaper which was amazingly modern in the simplicity of its design. They believed in moral sense and good taste; in the importance of beauty and intelligence in design.
Alexander Thomson, who opposed the fashion for gothic revival, was highly influential in the Glasgow buildings of the 1860’s. He believed in the ‘preminence of eternal beauty’ and Holmwood House, Dr Boyd thought, was a wonderful example of this clear, uncluttered design. The recently completed renovations to its murals and original paintwork were well worth visiting.
Thomson was also very preoccupied with how good design could help the health and welfare of the ordinary citizens of Glasgow (he had lost 5 of his children to a cholera epidemic).