Monday, January 11, 2010

Old School With Nicky Haslam

Computer tools are a marvel. With intuitive user friendly sites like or polyvore, just about anybody can make a decent design board.

At the shop I work in (perch.), when we do a first presentation for an interior design project, we gather fabric samples, and photos of furniture and accessories, or grab things we have on the selling floor, and make a verbal face to face presentation.

When I went to design school I had to learn to do renderings of a proposed room (watercolor or colored pencil), and I had to learn to draw in perspective, and take rudimentary courses in architectural drawing and drafting.

Very few designers work this way anymore, so when I came across the watercolors of one of my favorite legendary interior designers, Nicky Haslam, I thought you'd enjoy seeing an old school way of working.

The first watercolor is for a party decoration. Nicky Haslam has this say about setting the scene for a party:
"I go to a great number of parties, but often they are the opening of shops or the launch of a scent. I don’t count them, parties should be private. I have been associated with the scene at Studio 54 but I didn’t like it very much. It was sleazy, with all those boys in satin shorts snorting coke — El Morocco in the 1950s was much choicer. Years ago I did a coming-out ball for Jessica de Rothschild and recreated El Morocco with three tiers of seats and the Gipsy Kings performing. The seats were covered in blue and white giraffe skin and we had white palm trees and white plaster chandeliers — pretty spectacular."

This is a watercolor by Nicky Haslam of a proposed idea for a party he designed for Cartier.
Here's a photo of the party Nicky Haslam designed. I think you will find it interesting, in each case of first seeing the watercolor (the sketch of the idea of what he has in mind), and then seeing how it translates to reality.

Next is a residence in London, a watercolor of a space Nicky calls The Cabinet Room.

Wow! The softness of the watercolor is deceptive! The actual room is so much richer.

Here's another pretty watercolor for a presentation of an idea for a bedroom in a London townhouse.

In this case, the pastel quality of the watercolor is realized in the actual room.

This is a sketch for a rather grand bathroom for a bathroom in a London home. I love the vibrant blue walls.

The finished bathroom by Nicky Haslam certainly has the spirit of his watercolor.

This Nicky Haslan watercolor depicts an ante room in London.
Notice how the cream colored breakfront has reversed position.

Another watercolor of a London residence of the proposed decoration for the library.

I wonder if the client knew how fabulous it would look just from the charming sketch Nicky presented!

A Nicky Haslam watercolor entitled " The Entrance Hall."

"The Entrance Hall" as a finished product. The window treatments and the grandeur of the staircase are pretty much as shown in the watercolor.

Those are all of the examples I could find showing the "before" being the watercolor, and the"after" being the photograph of the finished room.

I am so charmed and impressed by Nicky Haslam as a watercolor artist, that I wanted to share the rest of the watercolors I found on his web site.
The detail is amazing.

The perspective drawing is excellent.

Each watercolor tells a story that draws you in.

You trust the person who takes such care, and so much talent.

I wonder how long it takes Nicky Haslam to execute one of these watercolors.

I wonder if he does them for every client and every project.

Or if he does one for each room of the house he is decorating.

Are there files and boxes of these gems, these workmanlike works of art, stashed somewhere to be discovered and brought to the light of day?

I would so enjoy and treasure a collection of the water colors of Nicky Haslam bound in a beautiful book.

I know some of you were trained the old school way like I was.

Do you still do watrercolor renderings of a project for your clients?

Click on images to see larger views.


my favorite and my best said...

i am amazed at the detail in the sketches. they are so lovely.


Anonymous said...

No matter how beautiful the sketch, somehow the actual room changes to some degree - some are more beautiful - some less so. Now, I can't figure out why that would be unless color translates differently. Perhaps the edges are softer in a drawing.

Kwana said...

These are so wonderful. Thanks for sharing them. They bring to mind my friend Patricia of PVE Design.

The Blasphemous Fiendess said...

I agree with anon Jan 11, sometimes I like the painting better and other times I prefer the real room. He is undoubtedly a talented artist.

Gwen Driscoll said...

I so envy those of you who have strong rendering abilities. I wish I could do it well. I can render but it would take me weeks to get 1 done. These are beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Gwen Driscoll
Ragland Hill Social

carla fox said...

That takes me back to design school! Everything was done by hand then: drafting, perspectives and renderings. I never learned to draft on the's just not the same! These are beautiful.

pve design said...

Funny, no matter how far we go technically speaking, learning "old school" seems like a lost art. I am one of the lost old school students. Love his work and I thank Kwana for her kind comment above.
Val - you really find the best!

Visual Vamp said...

Kwana is right! These beautiful watercolors reminded me of your beautiful work Patricia!
xo xo

Greet said...

Oh Valorie,
I love the drawings of Nick Haslam! They are almost as beautiful as his work!


House plans said...

I love the sketches, it looks so beautiful.

Boracay beach resort said...

The interior designs and the sketches look so classy with a touch of elegance and sophistication.

Michele from Boston said...

What wonderful work. The watercolors remind me how much I miss the late Mark Hampton. I had no idea Nicky Haslam was an accomplished artist - beyond his immeasurable talents as a decorator. Waiting for a used copy of his new memoir w/great aniticipation. Thanks for the terrific post!

Linz said...

I would give up my computer, Photoshop, etc., to be able to draw, paint, and visualize like him. His watercolors are truly stunning.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Sadly, I covet but am missing the sketching gene. It's been somewhat trained into me, but is such hard work.