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Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born in Glasgow on 7 June 1868; he spent most of his life in this prospering city. He began his career as an apprentice to a local architect, but later transferred to a more established city practice Honeyman and Keppie, where he eventually became a partner in 1901.

To complement his apprenticeship, he began evening study in drawing at the Glasgow School of Art.

Mackintosh was a model student, spending many hours in the library consulting architecture and design journals and winning many student prizes and competitions.

One of these, the prestigious Alexander Thomson Travelling Studentship, allowing him to take an architectural tour of Italy.

Mackintosh drew influences from many places. He particularly favoured the simple forms and natural materials of Japanese design. He appreciated how it valued restraint and economy of means, and admired its use of texture, light, shadow, and the recognition of the space of the room, as well as the furniture within it.

Also, influences of the Modernist movement emerging in Europe at the time is obvious. The main concern of this movement was with present and future, rather than history and tradition. Mackintosh later became known as the pioneer of the movement, however much of his work is far more significant and distinct than the utilitarianism of the Modernist movement.

Unlike the earlier designer, Le Corbusier, who believed houses were machines for living in, Mackintosh was concerned about building for the needs of individual people, and to help them live within a work of art.

All along, Mackintosh continued his classes at Glasgow School of Art, and it was in large part due to his fast-spreading reputation that led to it becoming one of the leading art academies in Europe. The late 1980’s saw Glasgow’s reputation in architecture and the decorative arts reach an all time high. Over a century later, Mackintosh is still regarded as the father of Glasgow Style.

Mackintosh died in 1928 of throat cancer after a relatively short but largely influential career, leaving many design ideas that will not soon be forgotten.

Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art, his own house, Hill House, Miss Cranston’s Tea Rooms, Argyle Street Tea Rooms and later the rooms of Ingram Street and Willow Street are projects of art designed and considered down to the finest detail. His high backed chairs are pieces of furniture or art that every interior designer is familiar with as they were of such original and memorable proportions.

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