Another great book that stems from my design education is ‘A Pattern Language’ by Christopher Alexander.
Published in 1976 my dog eared copy has been a great source of wisdom over the years. A quick leaf through it for inspiration this week revealed a chapter called “A Cottage for a Teenager” inspiring me to think about teenage bedrooms. Alexander’s work is aimed at an American audience with perhaps more space than homes in the UK, but the spirit of his words makes a lot of sense. He writes that when children become adolescents their relationship to the family changes considerably as they take on more responsibility and their life outside the home becomes richer and more absorbing. They need both independence and the family to fall back onto. They can feel very confused by these conflicting feelings which is why they need space in the home that has more autonomy and character as a base for independent action. Alexander suggests a separate cottage linked to the house or a room with a private entrance. The cottage would later become a workshop, studio, home office or guest room. Some parents will worry about too much independence so he goes on to suggest that the cottage be placed so that the path from room to street passes through important communal spaces within the home such as kitchen and living areas. After reflecting on the idea of a cottage I questioned my teenage niece about her ideal space and I was delighted to be met with a slew of images she had already collected in her own eager anticipation. A few things struck me about her choice of interior decoration. Primarily that it was so uniquely stamped with her identity and activity - a lot of photos of friends and a lot of references to music, musical instruments, album covers and favourite bands. Strong colours and exciting mood lighting including cornice mounted LED lights and a patterned ceiling. No surface is off limits. This would be in stark contrast to the rest of the family home and so allows her to fully represent her identity. Top tip: For some fabulous teenage statement pieces we love the edgy flavour of the new fabric collection, Pop Rock, from John Paul Gaultier because it has great musical influences in the motifs and colourways that are striking and individual.
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