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Charles Rennie Mackintosh

By Philippa Burne, UK, July 2011

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One of the prides of Glasgow is the architecture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. His work is dotted all over Glasgow and his geometric, linear designs can be seen all over cups, tea towels, furniture and buildings – some of these you can buy to take home, others you just have to enjoy and photograph. The iconic ladder-back wooden chairs are highly recognizable but not terribly comfortable. 

The most famous Mackintosh building is the Glasgow School of Art, up a steep hill in Renfrew Street. He won the competition to design this building when he was only 27, and only fairly recently graduated from the school himself. The building is famous for being the first example of Art Nouveau architecture in Britain – all the rage in France – and also for being such a beautiful and yet still very functional building. It still operates as an art school and you can visit although most of the building is only accessible on a guided tour. Like most of Glasgow it is a dark, slightly dour building, but the details in every corner inside and out make it a work of art in itself.

Other buildings by Mackintosh are dotted around the city and the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society organizes guided tours of these buildings at certain times during the year. One place open year round is The Willow Tea Rooms in Sauchiehall Street, which he designed in 1904; he had complete control over everything – exterior, interior, furnishings, plates, cutlery, and even the waitresses’ dresses. Once you can recognize the design style of Mackintosh, you’ll suddenly see it all over the city: it’s like being given a code to understanding Glasgow.

Photo courtesy of The Guidez Glasgow


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