Ancient yet modern, classic yet contemporary, masculine yet feminine, textural, whimsical. The adjectives go on, and so could I about fluting. I've developed a fond appreciation for all of the qualities that fluting adds to architecture and design. The pictures above and below of the Parthenon in Greece highlight both the beauty and timelessness of fluting as a pattern and element of design.
You so often hear about how critical of a role that texture plays in neutral color schemes. The texture is the visual interest that breaks things up and softens, what could otherwise be, a harsh monochromatic palette. This is brilliantly displayed in the following designs.
A room in a house designed by architect Ruard Veltman really accentuates the fluting. Notice the ceiling is fluted too, mirroring that of the fireplace wall. Fluting shows up regularly in Ruard's designs and he's quite genius about the unique ways he uses it to apply texture.
I recently had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Ruard at an impromptu visit to his office in Charlotte (more on that later) and during our conversation he mentioned that the fluting on the fireplace wall was achieved with plaster. We didn't discuss the ceiling, but I suspect it was done with machined wood. Ruard also mentioned some other applications of fluting that he has in design. I won't spoil the surprise, we'll have to wait until the houses are built and photographed.
Notice anything else in this room? There are fire balls in the fireplace. Another design favorite.
A recent article in Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles showcased the beautiful collaboration between architects Thomas Paul Bates and Jeremy Corkern of Bates Corkern Studio and designer Betsy Brown, both of which I've become quite enamored with the work of. Fluting makes a dramatic display in this mid-rise building in Birmingham. Fluted paneling is used on the walls leading to the kitchen and used to cover the cabinetry throughout the kitchen.
Both whimsical and textural, this fluted onyx tub enclosure captures your attention in a bathroom designed by architect William Hefner. I find this design to be quite creative and intriguing in a world where so many bathrooms seem the same.
Speaking of bathrooms, designer Betsy Brown used fluted wood on the cantilevered vanity in the master bath in her home that she renovated with the help of Bates Corkern Studio. Clearly these folks need to keep collaborating. Their teaming yields great design.
Fluting can be applied to not just wood and plaster, but metal too as seen in this kitchen designed by Pursley Architecture. Keeping the stainless steel flat wouldn't have been nearly as visually striking as this fluted design.
The distinct island in the foreground of this kitchen features a fluted surface along the top and down the sides of the base. It's hard to see this detail, but if you look closely, you'll see the shadows cast by the concave grooves. Architecture by Ruard Veltman.
Fluting is often used in furniture design too, as illustrated in this beautiful room by Melanie Turner. The Barbara Barry table between the tufted chairs features a fluted band. Despite the limited color in this room's palette, it shines because of the textural variety among the tufting, fluting and hide upholstery. Photo via Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles, May 2005 by Erica George Dines.
Another style of fluting in furniture design is highlighted in the band around the top of this table. Design by Haynes Roberts.
Coming full circle, a picture of Bobby McAlpine's former personal residence features a fluted side table. The table looked to me to be an architectural fragment of a piece of a stone doric column. I could only imagine how heavy that might be. Greg Tankersley informed me, however, that this table was made of cast concrete and designed by their firm.
Apparently, there were several tables made of the cast concrete. I have noticed the table showing up in a number of McAlpine Tankersley designs, including the former office shown above. My understanding is that a collaboration with Elegant Earth is underway to produce similar designs from concrete.
A more organic, and one might say contemporary, design by Bradley Hughes showcases yet another visually striking example of fluting in furniture design. Evocative of the natural beauty of trees, it hearkens back to what Vitruvius described as being the inspiration for fluting in classical architecture. The unique table is fashioned out of concrete and can be customized in color and dimension.
I'll conclude this post with one of the most unique examples of fluting that I've come across. The sofa pictured above sits along a common area overlooking a firepit at Alys Beach in Florida. The sofa was crafted from concrete and stone. Notice the fluted band of stone along the bottom of the sofa. It lends the appearance of a slipcover. The bolster pillows made of out of stone were also particularly interesting.
When I browsed through my photo collection looking for pictures for this post I realized how prolific fluting is in furniture design. It shows up everywhere from paneling, to banding, to lamp bodies and more. I particularly like how something so old and classic is constantly being reinvented and reinterpreted in new ways. A design that is truly timeless.
Thank you to the architects who graciously provided me with photos for this post.