Places & Spaces My Library

My Library – A Frame for Life

November 20, 2014

Today I’m delighted to review the much anticipated A Frame for Life: The Designs of Studioilse. A further soon to be iconic title in my library series.

A lot of you might know that Ilse Crawford is my design hero and some of you might have read my post when I had the good fortune to spend ‘a day of good design‘ in her presence.

This is Ilse Crawford’s third book. A fan of the previous books, this tome of 240 pages is an inspirational volume of Ms Crawford’s teachings and work undertaken since forming Studioilse in 20013.

A Frame for Life - Ilse Crawford - Colourliving
© A Frame for Life by Ilse Crawford with Edwin Heathcote | Published by Rizzoli New York | Publication Date: November 2014 | Price: £35.00

“Over the last decade, through my work with Studioilse and my teaching, I have developed an agenda of working to create design that is a frame for life; a design that starts with human experience, that prioritises our well-being and enhances our humanity.” – Ilse Crawford

A Frame for Life - Ilse Crawford - Colourliving
Left: Knitted socks for staying friends with the neighbours | Right: My Smythson notebooks tells many stories

A Frame for Life - Ilse Crawford - Colourliving
Left: His foot got chipped so we had to keep him | Right: The Leather Aero bag is perfect for brick samples

A Frame for Life - Ilse Crawford - Colourliving
Left: Tea is a ceremonial part of studio culture | Right: These were made for the Elle Deco opening party in 1989

The book is full of Ilse Crawford’s philosophies in the field of design and well-being. Anyone who has come across the writings or designs of Ms Crawford will know that she puts the human being at the centre of all her projects. There are many anecdotes and gems of early influences.

“I learned as a child in west London that design was a potent, magical thing.” – Ilse Crawford

A Frame for Life - Ilse Crawford - Colourliving
Left: the bathroom 2011 | Right: Prioritising well being

An extract: “I love to lie in the bath in the early morning and look at the sky. What makes the normal so special is attention to detail and real materials: for example, seriously good lighting, solid traditional taps, handmade zellige tiles, a bench in the shower, deep drawers for storage, a wardrobe of flat-weave towels collected on our travels. This attitude is carried through into our cleaning and grooming products; no detergent, no animal testing, no artificial fragrances, so no ‘smell of napalm in the morning’.” – Ilse Crawford

You’ll find stunning photography of Ilse Crawford’s most interesting domestic interiors to public spaces, along with layout designs and individual products.

“Home is so much more than bricks and mortar. It is such an interesting construct. On the one hand, it is a receptacle to house objects and people. And on the other, it is a living thing; constantly in flux, as changeable as the people that live in it and a vessel for so many different activities.” – Ilse Crawford

A Frame for Life - Ilse Crawford - Colourliving
Design with the Human Being at the Centre

A Frame for Life - Ilse Crawford - Colourliving
Dinder, Somerset 2008 Left: the Home Office | Right: the bookcase, drawn by the client

A Frame for Life - Ilse Crawford - Colourliving
Design that brings people together

A Frame for Life - Ilse Crawford - Colourliving
Mathias Dahlgren, Stockholm 2008 Left: Testing a chair | Right: Matbaren

A Frame for Life - Ilse Crawford - Colourliving
Why is Interior Design so misunderstood? Essay by and a conversation with design critic Edwin Heathcote

“Design can be a powerful force. I have never understood why interior design is often so underestimated, misunderstood and trivialised. It is too often dismissed as something superficial, without instrinsic value. An ‘add-on’. It’s a mistake that it is considered a luxury to be applied if there is money left at the end, rather than an integral part of making and shaping new realities from the outset.” – Ilse Crawford

I’ve now had this book for a few weeks and it’s taken me this long to have a good read and absorb so many pearls of wisdom you will find in it. I don’t see Ilse Crawford as just a designer. I see her as someone who tells stories through design. She’s much more interested in the story of a building, a place and how to make humans feel good in that space.

A Frame for Life is the perfect title for this most wonderful book. Ilse Crawford has the masterful ability to merge the fields of interior design, architecture and product design with the priority of putting the desires, needs, and well-being of the human being at the center of all her projects.

I will cherish this book and refer to it over and over again. Thank you Rizzoli UK.

For a great article on Studioilse’s new office space, see here.

This post will stay live until Thursday 27th November.

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  • Reply Alison Sye November 21, 2014 at 9:46 am

    I can remember being about 13/14 and timing my evening bath so that the sky was a particular colour. That really deep blue you get. Then I used to lie in the bath and look at it!

    • Reply tina November 26, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      I love that you were already mindful as a teenager and that details mattered to you then.

  • Reply Gerard @WalnutGrey November 23, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Great review Tina! Ilse Crawford is always on the mark whenever it comes to good design, people, living, emotion and feeling. I simply admire how seriously and lovingly she treats what she does.


    • Reply tina November 26, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      Thank you Gerard.
      I know. I love the whole storytelling and attention to every single details.
      Ms Crawford certainly knows her stuff and for me she is the ultimate designer!


  • Reply Yasmin Chopin November 23, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    This is a lovely insight into the world of a designer Tina – thank you for sharing the lovely pics and for your personal response to the contents of this book. It’s now on the top of my list!

    • Reply tina November 26, 2014 at 4:00 pm

      Hi Yasmin. I hope you will enjoy this book. It is nothing short of brilliance with tons of visual stimulation, beautiful writing and emotive thinking.
      Hope Santa visits:-)

  • Reply Catherine@farmhousehome November 24, 2014 at 8:04 am

    I’d love to lay in the bath and read this book cover to cover. xx

    • Reply tina November 26, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      Haha, that’s certainly a great place to read it and I think that Ms Crawford would approve. Light some beautiful candles, soak and be enthralled. Thanks Catherine xx

  • Reply Igor November 24, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Wow what an intriguing book and your review makes me want to get my hands on it immediately!!! Thanks Tina!

    • Reply tina November 26, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      I believe you bought one of Ilse Crawford’s books after my previous post. This, of course, is the ultimate tome
      and I know you will love it.

  • Reply Anya Jensen November 25, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Great review Tina – so inspirational 🙂 One for my (long) Christmas wish list I think. What an intriguing woman.
    Hope you are keeping warm,

    • Reply tina November 26, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      Thank you Anya. Haha, yes, just add and add. You never know. To be honest I haven’t made a list yet, I’m so late for everything.
      Keeping warm, although it’s getting really cold here in London. Bet Copenhagen is already freezing. xx

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