Design History

  • Life Imitates Art: Artists and Their Kitchens

     As the famous saying goes, ‘life imitates art’, so we thought we’d investigate this theory when it comes to some of the world’s most influential artists and their kitchens. What do they reveal about themselves when their work and real life collide?

    Andy Warhol (b. 1928 – d. 1987)

    Copies of the iconic Campbell’s Soup Cans print, by Pennsylvanian-born Andy Warhol, inhabit many a home worldwide. Originally a successful magazine and ad illustrator, Warhol helped to define Pop Art in the 1960’s through his exploration of artistic expression, celebrity culture and advert-driven creative.

    With a dresser stacked full of tin cans and preserves in his kitchen, and the likes of Keith Richards slaving away at the stove, we can certainly see where Warhol found some of his inspiration.


    Campbells chicken soup Keith Richards



    Georgia O’Keeffe (b. 1887 – d. 1986)

    Considered one of the most significant artists of the 20th century and a “pioneer of abstraction”, O’Keeffe created simplistic but bold interpretations of nature and landscapes, as she observed them or imagined them to be.

    According to Margaret Wood, caretaker of the artist in her later life, O’Keeffe lived in some ways like she painted, preferring the simple and utilitarian, but always with a focus on quality.

    Georgia O Keeffe


    Georgia O'Keeffe kitchen at Abiquiu, and the kitchen has been preserved as O'Keeffe left it when she moved from Abiquiu to Santa Fe for health reasons in the 1980s.


    Georgia O Keeffe 3


    Georgia O Keeffe 5


    Frida Kahlo (b. 1907 – d. 1954)

    Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo, was best known for her self-portraits, their depiction of “pain and passion”, and her use of intense and vibrant colour. Her work is celebrated as an emblem of national and indigenous tradition, and by feminists as a representation of the female experience and form.

    Although at first glance we can’t find too many references of the female form in Frida’s kitchen, there’s certainly an abundance of colour and plenty of examples of indigenous design!

    Georgia OKeeffe 7


    Georgia O Keeffe 8


    Erik Schmidt (b. 1968 - )

    Despite the name, Erik Schmidt was born and raised in Herford, but currently lives and works in Berlin. Erik creates his paintings after sourcing photo material online or in magazines. He then sketches out the picture before painting over it with rough but structured brushstrokes. His pieces often feature “colourless” spaces that, earlier in his career, he used to paint white, but today dares to leave as blank canvas…a bit like the unpainted feature wall in his kitchen!

    Georgia O Keeffe 9


    Georgia O Keeffe 10


    Claude Monet (b. 1840-d. 1926)

    A key founder of Impressionism, Monet was renowned for capturing variations in light and colour in the landscape, achieving large expanses of texture through stylised brushstrokes. In his later life, he became increasingly interested in the decorative qualities of both light and colour, which is evident when you look at the interior of his own home.

    As water features in many of Monet’s paintings, it’s perhaps not surprising that his kitchen resembles one of his works; the reflective surface of the ceiling; the layered use of blue throughout…and then there’s the beautiful views out onto the landscape beyond!

    Georgia O Keeffe 11


    Georgia O Keeffe 12


  • DIY (Dad’s Improved Yesterday) or DIS (Dads In Sheds)

      Retro book cover British Standard Blog

    Whatever happened to pine cladding, Swiss Cheese Plants, primary colours, radiused – corners, non - ironic beards..? The lost world of optimistic 1970s DIY: countless books and magazines showed the ‘hands on’ way to a bright, progressive future. Lost, now to the disposable flat – pack and a popular cultural retreat to familiar forms.

    Retro book pages British Standard Blog

    Many of these quite challenging techniques have now been replaced by modern jointing tools but how many of the end results would really resemble the illustrations? How long would they have withstood the assaults of their dungaree – clad, mop – haired offspring.

    Reto Book British Standard Blog


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