Pretty Dandy

Interview with... Mr Walnut Grey

Welcome to the latest in our series of interviews with the interiorati! These quick interviews are a chance to get to know a bit more about what goes on behind the scenes in the interiors world... what is your favourite blogger's  most coveted piece of furniture, or a stylist's secret design tip or a photographer's favourite place to visit? Find out here!

We want to shine the spotlight on the people who are often on the other side of the interview. Those who work hard to spread the word about beautiful products, come up with new ideas for how to present your home and generally play a large (but perhaps less well-known) part in the interiors industry,

This week I am delighted to be 'talking' to Mr Walnut Grey. We often have very differing opinions on interiors, sitting as we do, on either side of the minimalism vs. maximalism (if that's a word!) divide. That makes reading his blog totally fascinating for me.

It's a peep inside the mind of a minimalist and beautifully encapsulates the delights of a sleek line and uncluttered space. As someone who looks at pictures of clean concrete flooring with sparse furniture and thinks "but where do all the cushions go?" it's a privilege to be given this insight into a different mind-set.

Plus, I am a big fan of longform writing (if you are, check out the #longreads hashtag on twitter) and Mr Walnut Grey's posts always give you plenty of well thought out text to get your teeth into.

So, without further ado... here is the man himself:

First up, can you introduce yourself and your work for anyone who isn’t aware of you/ it?
Hello. I’m Gerard McGuickin aka Mr Walnut Grey. I’m a freelance design writer and a blogger for my online zine, Walnut Grey Design.
Walnut Grey design logo
I like to think that I write intelligently about ‘good design’ from the viewpoint of interiors, architecture, objects and lifestyle. I’m particularly interested in how we foster emotional connections with design and how we can use design to curate our lives. I hope to offer the reader inspiration and style with conscientious flair.
My style is masculine, urbane, urban and punctilious. I have a specialist interest in modern contemporary and midcentury Nordic and British design.
Mr Walnut Grey - blogger & stylist
Portrait of Mr Walnut Grey
Who are your design heroes & why?
Charles and Ray Eames - they were a somewhat eccentric pair who still make me smile. Their design story is almost poetic and they have created some of the best-loved designs of our modern era.
Hans J Wegner - he managed to make chairs that were complex and intricate to craft and produce, look exceptionally simple, distinctive and sculptural. Wegner designed my favourite chair of all time, the Shell Chair, officially named the CH07 and also known as the smiling chair.
Hans Wegner
Portrait of Hans J. Wegner. Image © Republic of Fritz Hansen.
Poul Kjærholm - a Danish master craftsman, a design genius and a modern innovator, whose work is imbued with a master craftsman’s integrity, gravitas and polish.
Dieter Rams - his ten principles for good design truly are ten design commandments. Rams also quoted: “You cannot understand good design if you do not understand people; design is made for people.” Perfect.
I realise I have listed several older design luminaries, but present day designers whose work I follow include: Lars Beller Fjetland, NORM architects Kasper Rønn & Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen, Morten Bo Jensen, chief designer at Vipp and Ilse Crawford.
Lars Beller
Lars Beller Fjetland. Image supplied by Sabine Zetteler.

Tell us one of your earliest design memories.
I grew up in west Belfast and attended an all-boys Catholic school where design was not on the curriculum. As a concept, I don’t think I even knew what design was. I remember my appearance was always neat, clean and ordered. My bedroom was the same. Everything had a place and I abhorred clutter (nothing has changed in this sense). I would always choose how my bedroom looked - the colour, carpet, furniture et cetera. Styling (not that I understood this term at that time) came naturally to me. 
If you could have one item delivered to your home tomorrow, what would you choose?
I did have that one item delivered to my home recently - my walnut & grey CH07 Shell Chair. I still smile every time I look at it.
Shell Chair
The Shell Chair. Image © Carl Hansen & Søn.
However there are two items that I still want (because one is never enough) - the Bølling Tray Table in walnut and storm blue from Brdr. Krüger and the 606 Universal Shelving System from Vitsœ.
Bolling Tray Table
Image via BRDR Kruger

Where have you visited that has most inspired you?
There really isn’t one specific place, but rather a fusion of places and spaces. I have a natural predisposition towards city life. It fuels my imagination, stirs me at an intrinsic emotional level and influences my thinking. As a writer, I am fascinated by urban life and the people who live within the context of cities. If I were to name favourite cities, I would say London, Copenhagen, New York, Palma, Seville, Berlin and of course, Belfast.
MAC Belfast
MAC, Belfast. Image © Hall McKnight.
When in London I love to visit Nordic Bakery, Skandium and Monocle. In Belfast, I recommend The MAC, National Grand cafe bar and OX. Each of these spaces involve great design, concrete and/or exceptional food and coffee.
And finally… please share a design secret with us…
I have a particular penchant for beautifully discerning table lamps that work equally well when placed on the floor. I would always advocate designing it your way and forgetting the status quo. Just because it’s a table lamp or picture, doesn’t mean it has to sit on a table or hang on the wall.
Milk Lamp
Milk Lamp. Image © NORM.

I would like to say an enormous thanks to Gerard for taking the time to be involved in our interview series and for giving interesting answers which demand a fun afternoon of further exploration!
You can find Gerard at his site, but do also look him up on Twitter and Pinterest.

Previous interviews in the series can be found here and here.

Thanks for reading, do share any comments for me or Mr Walnut Grey and keep your eyes peeled for our next Interview with...

Date: 21 Oct 2013 16:06
Author: Becky
Tags: Interview with