Musical interpretation of Room?

March 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

Came across this while working on my document:

From Wikipedia:

“Songwriter and founder of the band Neil Hannon has often claimed that both the film and book had a profound influence on much of his work and cites them as all-time favourites.”


February 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

It began with a book. Or rather, it began with a book design, recently released:

David Pearson’s cover design for Orwell’s 1984

Sweet black foiling!

Awesome, no? Perhaps it was nostalgia for an old favorite, or perhaps I needed something to temper the lightness of Room, but it was decided that 1984 should be revisited. Several pages in, it hit me: these are the same! (Okay, not the same, certainly, but they do share some similar sentiments regarding personal connection.)

To dissemble your feelings, to control your face, to do what everyone else was doing, was an instinctive reaction.

Victorian etiquette!

His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, […] to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself—that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word “doublethink” involved the use of doublethink.

The submergence of feeling? The hypocrisy of knowing, but deliberately not knowing? Why, it’s Lucy!

This may amount to nothing more than a curious rumination. Then again, it may influence the design of the pension… A Room With a View + 1984 + Penguin Deluxe Classics?

Miss Charlotte Bartlett

February 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

Dame Maggie Smith as Miss Charlotte Bartlett (right)

Rooms with character

Speaking of spaces dedicated to characters, no character is as deserving of such a space as Charlotte Bartlett—Lucy’s older, financially disadvantaged cousin-cum-chaperone. Throughout the novel, Charlotte makes every attempt to keep her charge from entangling herself with the younger Mr. Emerson… or does she?


He whispered: ‘Is it this? Is this possible? I’ll put a marvel to you. That your cousin has always hoped. That from the very first moment we met, she hoped, far down in her mind, that we should be like this—of course, very far down. That she fought us on the surface, and yet she hoped. I can’t explain her any other way. Can you? […] She is not frozen, Lucy, she is not withered up all through. She tore us apart twice, but in the rectory that evening she was given more than one chance to make us happy. We can never make friends with her or thank her. But I do believe that, far down in her heart, far below all speech and behaviour, she is glad.’

‘It is impossible,’ murmured Lucy, and then, remembering the experiences of her own heart, she said: ‘No—it is just possible.’ (195-196)

Despite her fusty appearance, it turns out Charlotte is something of a romantic herself. A guest room in her honor will feature fabulous fabrics from Gretchen Bellinger in varying shades of brown.

Before she could speak, almost before she could feel, a voice called, ‘Lucy! Lucy! Lucy!’ The silence of life had been broken by Miss Bartlett, who stood brown against the view. (63)

A color often associated with “plain-Jane” drabness, brown is made stunningly beautiful in gold-flecked velvets and sequined sheers.

Gretchen Bellinger Samples

Charlotte’s guest room bath will feature a magnificent soaking tub… there may only be room for one, but that’s no reason why she can’t treat herself!

Fab Soaking Tubs

A note about a name

It did not do to think, nor, for the matter of that, to feel. She gave up trying to understand herself, and joined the vast armies of the benighted, who follow neither the heart nor the brain, and march to their destiny by catchwords. […]

Lucy entered this army when she pretended to George that she did not love him, and pretended to Cecil that she loved no one. The night received her, as it had received Miss Bartlett thirty years before. (162)

Dun dun dun!:

Charlotte Bartlett… “march to their destiny by catchwords”…Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations… you get the point.

Salon 01: Aesthetics

February 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

The Film

The 1985 film took the Oscar for Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, and it’s not hard to see why! Here are some views of the drawing room at the pension:

Drawing Room - Lucy plays Beethoven

Drawing Room - Mr. Beebe listens

Drawing Room - Charlotte enters

Drawing Room - Bickering

Drawing Room - Mr. Beebe

The drawing room design likely took its cue from this description:

And even more curious was the drawing-room, which attempted to rival the solid comfort of a Bloomsbury boarding-house. Was this really Italy?

Miss Bartlett was already seated on a tightly stuffed armchair, which had the colour and the contours of a tomato. (7)


As beautiful as the film sets are, I’m not looking to recreate 1908. The play of light and shadow in the first two stills above would work well in a translational sense (the contrast between the two having a symbolic role in the novel), but the agoraphobic nature of Victorian interiors doesn’t speak to contemporary preferences. Playing off the novel’s structural contrast, as well as my own inclinations, I plan to blend traditional and contemporary aesthetics:

Aesthetics - Inspiration

Inspiration from existing interiors

Inspiration Collage

Initial inspiration collage from August


January 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

Doors = Drama

From Sarah Luria’s “The Architecture of Manners: Henry James, Edith Wharton, and the Mount”:

Wharton’s doors offer an invitation to enter and yet protect privacy through their controlled revelation of the house’s interior. Like manners, the doors heighten intimacy while they also make social relations more formal. The opening door, for example, restores the key dramatic moment of entrance to its full intensity: it creates a prolonged moment of suspense during which neither the intruder nor the occupants can see each other—a moment of simultaneous revelation and concealment, as the occupants have time to stop what they were doing and turn to meet the new guest.

Of course, the dining room and drawing room of Forster’s pensione are divided by “curtains—curtains which smote one in the face, and seemed heavy with more than cloth” (7). Not that this prevented the inhabitants from sizing up the newcomers….

Miss Lavish Observing

Dame Judi Dench as Miss Lavish

Doors establish social order

Again from Luria’s article:

‘While the main purpose of a door is to admit,’ Wharton writes in The Decoration of Houses, ‘its secondary purpose is to exclude.’ Key doors in the house serve to separate outsiders from insiders, servants from residents and day visitors from overnight guests. Wharton’s architectural creed reveals the extent to which doors themselves become a pivotal means of establishing a social order; it is they that do the including and excluding, with the result that they establish an inner elite by determining who is allowed in—and, crucucially, how far in. The Mount establishes its subtle social order in large part through movement. Insiders have the greatest number of paths available, outsiders the fewest. Servants have access to the entire house but only through certain doors.

Something to consider… especially if parts of the pensione are open to “day visitors.”

Doors from the film

Doors leading from the guest room to the bath, the bath to the hall, the hall to [an intermediary space following reception]?

doors doors doors
doors - guest suite to hall
doors - off from reception

Two sets of double doors in the drawing room, flanking the piano…one presumably leads to the smoking room?
doors - drawing room

A traditional Victorian pass-through door between the dining room and the kitchen:
doors - dining room pass-through

Doors, doors, doors!


Working Logo

January 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

pension logo


Logo sketches

Inspiration from Italian brands

Italian Brands

Inspiration from the film

Pensione Bertolini

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