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Mr Walnut Grey

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I'm a Design Writer & Interior Stylist. My name is Gerard McGuickin. Mr Walnut Grey is my pseudonym. He and I are inextricably connected. My company is called Walnut Grey Design. I’d describe myself as punctilious: meticulous, conscientious, a perfectionist. I believe in being both styled and personable. I am insightful and sincere in my way of thinking about design. I champion the aesthetic. In fact “aesthetic” may just be my favourite word. My natural tendency is to listen, observe and question. This helps make me both a proficient writer and stylist. I believe these skills are clearly connected. One of my favourite designers, Charles Eames, said that: “Eventually everything connects – people, ideas, objects, etc., … the quality of the connections is the key to quality per se.” I love walnut & grey – they both connect exceptionally well. As a writer and stylist, I focus on good design, thereby disregarding the latest fads and trends. Therein I am greatly influenced by design that is modern, contemporary, midcentury, urban, Nordic, British, illustrious and emotional.

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Personal style Walnut Grey Design is an expression of contemporary interior design, creating bespoke urban spaces that will endure and provide aesthetic pleasure.
Job Design Writer, Interior Stylist
Type Creative
School Interior Design Institute, Interior Design 2010 – 2011; Central St Martins, Interior Styling 2010; University of Surrey, MSc Psychology 1999 – 2000; Queen's University Belfast, BSc Psychology 1992 – 1997
Philosophy Walnut Grey Design subscribes to the philosophy of the designer Dieter Rams. Rams expressed ten important principles for what he considered to be good design, including that: good design is aesthetic; good design is unobtrusive; good design is honest; good design is long-lasting; good design is as little design as possible. I think of design as part of a journey of exploration, discovery and fulfilment. Central to this journey are people, without whom, design in any form would be pointless. I feel a residential space, indeed any space, should be aesthetic, well designed and functional, having longevity and the ability to excite, inspire and comfort. I believe strongly in people having an emotional connection with spaces.
Specialization Architectural Design, Interior Design, Exterior Design, Temporary Space and Exhibition Design, Design of Everyday Things/Objects, Design with innovative materials, Graphic Designer, Communication Design, Lighting design
Style Modern, Fusion, Minimal

My Posts Show All Posts

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    Correspond with the Moomins

    March, 13 2013 • 10:00

    Somewhere deep in Moominvalley, the Moomins are hibernating, snug and warm, hidden away from winter’s cold. But spring is just around the corner and soon we’ll hear the Moomins stirring, readying themselves for new adventures. Indeed their range of stationery might help spark your imagination, taking you on your own writing adventure.   Tove Jansson (1914-2001) was the creator of those cultural icons, the Moomins. More than just an artist and illustrator, Tove was also an intelligent writer, whose words and stories were deeply heartfelt.   Tove charted the adventures of the tightly-knit Moomin family and their eclectic assemblage of friends, across a series of books. The Moomins live in Moominvalley, a place with lush greenery, slopes and a sparkling river that flows from the mountains. Moominvalley is in Finland, near to the seashore, and is a place in which the Moomins can frolic and explore throughout spring and summer, and where they hibernate in autumn and winter.   The Moomins continue to inspire new generations of adults and children alike, through storytelling that is honest and universal. Their reach has long moved beyond books and comic strips to include films and various products. This Moomins stationery range is one such example. The Moomins always add an element of wonderment to things. Perhaps you can bring this wonderment to your own writing and drawing, finding inspiration through Tove Jansson’s magical creations. The Moomins stationery range includes cards, notebooks, memo blocks, pencil cases, rubbers, pens and tape. All images ©

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    FREDERICIA: Growing old with dignity

    February, 4 2013 • 10:00

      The Hunting Chair designed by Børge Mogensen in 1950 Fredericia is a Danish town situated in Jutland, Denmark. It was once famous for being home to Denmark’s international furniture exhibition. The Fredericia furniture factory was established in 1911, producing what might be considered traditional furniture of the time. Following WWII and the breakthrough of Modernism in Denmark, the Fredericia furniture exhibition’s renown was far-reaching, yet the Fredericia furniture factory, manufacturing an outdated furniture range, went into decline. By 1955 it was almost bankrupt. The Spoke-Back Sofa designed by Børge Mogensen in 1945 (produced in 1963) Andreas Graversen acquired the factory in 1955 and became the Managing Director for Fredericia from that point until 1995. Working with architect Børge Mogensen, they outlined a new path for Fredericia. It was a functional and humanistic one, where the furniture was modest and unobtrusive. Both Graversen and Mogensen believed that furniture should live up to the demands of everyday living, having both longevity and aesthetic appeal. This quote from Graversen is extremely relevant, especially today: “It is of great importance that the things we purchase and live with, do not need to be changed but instead grow old with dignity and charm”. NARA range by Shin Azumi   Andreas Graversen’s son, Thomas Graversen, assumed the leadership of Fredericia in 1995 and remains the current Managing Director. Whilst continuing to produce the work of Børge Mogensen, Thomas moved beyond his father’s assertive view of good design, believing “anything is possible.” In particular, he worked with Danish designer Nanna Ditzel, whose designs were much more exuberant than Mogensen’s and who had worked with new production techniques and materials including foam and plastic. Bench For Two designed by Nanna Ditzel   Today, Fredericia is a fusion of the ideals and beliefs of Andreas Graversen, with Thomas Graversen’s freer approach to design and production. Refreshingly for a Managing Director, Thomas Graversen eschews the creativity-killing meddling of guidelines and committees. He says: “It is not our goal to please the majority or follow trends. Our furniture has strong ideas... it should meet with today's standards but not [be] confined to a specific design policy”. Stingray designed by Thomas Pedersen in 2002   All images © FREDERICIA FURNITURE. Historic information about the company was gathered from FREDERICIA.  

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    A Ray of Grey: Vipp Annual Colour 2013

    January, 25 2013 • 10:00

    Vipp – an iconic Danish brand. An accomplished family business that was conceived from modest beginnings. Growing with each passing year, Vipp remains timeless whilst continuing to innovate. Its founder, Holger Nielsen, would say that “good design never goes out of fashion” and his words endure today. The Vipp bin’s design has been marginally enhanced since its inception in 1939 (the lid was originally a pointed dome shape that is now rounded).   All images © Vipp Morten Bo Jensen, Vipp’s Chief Designer, says: “like our original pedal bin, the newer Vipp products are rooted more in their function than aesthetics – you can say that aesthetics stems (sic) from function”. With its strong design DNA, the Vipp family and team have enjoyed playing with the Vipp bin’s aesthetic, dressing it up and decorating it, from limited editions to Vipp for charity, to its much coveted annual colour.Vipp’s annual colour for 2013 has now been announced. When seeing the images, Mr Walnut Grey was especially thrilled, the colour being “Ray of Grey”.   All images © Vipp   Of the new colour, Morten Bo Jensen says: “it’s a marked change from Vipp’s previous bright annual colours. We liked the idea of keeping it simple this year by fading to grey. Together with its matte finish and structured surface, the warm grey tone emphasizes the industrial features of the Vipp collection, reflecting the Vipp pedal bin’s origin as a solid, industrial tool for Danish clinics”.Simple, aesthetic, functional, the Vipp 2013 colour is classically styled, so allowing the Vipp bin’s form and character to blossom. Grey offers versatility, being cool and warm, strong and gentle. It is a distinctly present colour. Vividly urban and urbane, grey is enduring, emotional and expressive. ‘Ray of Grey’ will enhance the aesthetic of many interiors, but particularly those of a contemporary, urban disposition   All images © Vippvia walnut grey design

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    Get festive with Iittala

    December, 19 2012 • 10:00

    Finnish design icon, iittala, can help to make Christmas a better designed, more thoughtful and deliciously delectable experience. With the timeless aesthetic of its classic and much loved designs, iittala brings style and poise, charm and presence to any setting.An iittala object makes for an exquisite gift; helps to create the perfect environment; provides a focal point and a talking point. As with many of its Nordic counterparts, iittala is a company with a minimal aesthetic that is well-crafted, clean and long-lasting. Whenever you buy an object from iittala, you buy something that is intended to be enjoyed for many years to come, to be enriching, functional, used and loved.At this time of year, iittala has a number of gifts that will please even the most savvy of design enthusiasts.Here are my top 5 iittala Christmas gift ideas:   Little barn owl by Oiva Toikka 1972   Mariskooli bowl (155 mm grey) was inspired by Armi Ratia, founder of Marimekko   Nappula candleholders by Matti Klenell 2012   Vitriini boxes by Anu Penttinen 2010   Vase (160 mm flaming red) by Alvar Aalto 1936All images © iittala

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    Quintessentially Nordic

    October, 18 2012 • 23:00

    Image: Ant by Arne Jacobsen, PK22 and PK71 by Poul Kjærholm © Republic of Fritz Hansen.   You can never have too much of a good ‘Nordic’ thing.Nordic style is clean, without ostentation and makes use of natural materials. Good Nordic design gives the impression of being effortless, having simplicity and the absence of embellishment. Yet on close inspection, the attention to detail, precision and excellent craftsmanship is meticulous and decisive.Unquestionably, much of Nordic furniture and product design is innovative, creative, confident yet unobtrusive, cognisant of form and function and elegant. Nordic design pieces often assume centre stage in many modern contemporary spaces, their charm and intelligent disposition enticing the user and observer to both admire and enjoy their character.It is very easy to be consumed by Nordic design. Designers and brands of the highest calibre are numerous and include: Poul Kjærholm, Hans J. Wegner, Arne Jacobsen, Republic of Fritz Hansen, Carl Hansen & Søn, Vipp, NORM, Gubi and Søren Rose. Each of these designers and brands champion(ed) good design that is prevailing and long-term. Quintessential design visionary’s and pioneers, their interest is not in the latest fads and trends, but rather in design that is aesthetic, restrained, honest and long-lasting.   Image: © Republic of Fritz Hansen With Poul Kjærholm’s designs for example, there is a genuine feeling of exclusivity and pleasure. Each piece is crafted with the intention of being functional, unobtrusive and lifelong. More than this, its modern minimal aesthetic is timeless, enduring and classic. Poul Kjærholm’s vision for his furniture is far removed from today’s throwaway society – it isn’t changeable, competitive and unprincipled. Rather it is imbued with integrity, gravitas and finesse.Poul Kjærholm designed his PK22 lounge chair in 1956. A more than worthy contender to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Chair, the PK22 is, in this writer’s opinion, the better of the two. Structurally, the PK22 exhibits exceptional simplicity and has a graceful form. It is almost sculptural in its appearance; a minimal masterpiece that is beautiful from every angle.   Image: © Republic of Fritz Hansen   Image: © Republic of Fritz Hansen In many ways, a design such as that of the PK22 epitomises the qualities of good Nordic design. Alongside these qualities, Nordic design is distinctive, yet it is so much more than the stereotyped white sets shown in numerous design and lifestyle periodicals. Nordic design is a palette of greys, wood textures, dark blues, strong coffee, cinnamon buns, lingonberries, clear lakes, an open fire, forests, concrete and glass. It is consummate, grounded, captivating and inspiring.   Image: © Republic of Fritz Hansen

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    The objects of my affection: wooden toys

    October, 1 2012 • 10:00

    I don’t think I will ever fathom why people have objects for the sake of having objects. I believe there is nothing worse than a cluttered shelf, unless it is filled with books and periodicals or one or two choice items. Displaying items on a surface because it happens to be there is so banal and commonplace. People do not stop to think about what aesthetic it is they are trying to achieve or what meaning they wish to convey. The worst offenders are the potpourri crowd. I can only ask why?I feel it is important to curate every aspect of the space in which we live. We should consider what works well, what flows, what pieces are harmonious, what lifts a space and what adds context and character. I always make an assessment based upon the principles of good design (something that I often refer to in my work - see Dieter Rams: Still relevant at 80 as an example).   Objects add personality to a space. They provide a backdrop and ambience and help to tell a story about the individual(s) living there. I believe we should choose the objects with which we live. Just as it isn’t wise to buy clothes as a gift, I am of the opinion that we should not buy objects as a gift (unless you know the person intimately). In doing so, we run the risk of impressing our own taste upon someone’s space and potentially putting them in an awkward position - should they display the item or not. I have had to bin many unwanted items in the past. Even family heirlooms should not automatically find a place in your precious abode. If they don’t fit, they can live just as happily in a cupboard or loft space.I find that whenever I want an object for my home, I look for something that I will have for life. It is not about the latest fashion or trend. I often look to Nordic design for my inspiration because it is classic, definitive and aesthetic. Nordic designs are often made to last, to endure and mature. They are timeless, uncomplicated and captivating. Their presence is both reassuring and gratifying. When looking for objects, I particularly cherish Nordic designs that are a little quirky and have their own personality. If you are like-minded, one good place to start is ARCHITECTMADE.    Birds - All images © ARCHITECTMADEARCHITECTMADE makes objects that will ultimately be treasured and adored. Their products were designed by Danish architects from the 1950s and 60s, including Hans Bølling, Finn Juhl and Kristian Vedel. ARCHITECTMADE state that: “the architects design their objects through sheer passion for simple sophisticated aesthetics and functionality. This is where the appeal lies.” (Source).   Birds - All images © ARCHITECTMADE I am a huge fan of ARCHITECTMADE’s BIRD which is handmade by a small wood turner in Denmark using high quality smoked and natural oak. Tilting the BIRD’s head can express every frame of mind and I will often tilt their heads in line with how I’m feeling or how I want to feel. My BIRDs even have names.   Mermaid  - All images © ARCHITECTMADEThe Mermaid is ARCHITECTMADE’s newest product. It was designed by Hans Bølling who, in 1954, was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid fairy tale. The Mermaid represents Bølling’s own interpretation of the fairy tale and adds a minimal and elegant dimension to the character. I’m not entirely sure what I think about this design. It is somewhat of a curiosity and would certainly make an interesting conversation piece. Nevertheless it fits with ARCHITECTMADE’s passion for creative flair, simplicity, refinement of form, Danish tradition and longevity.Wherever you look to find an object for your space, ensure that you understand what it is you want and what its function will be. Any object should ultimately be the object of your affection.Other objects from ARCHITECTMADE:Oscar - All images © ARCHITECTMADEOptimist and Pessimist - All images © ARCHITECTMADEDuck and Duckling - All images © ARCHITECTMADE

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