Traipsing around Glasgow to learn more about Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Have you heard of the name Charles Rennie Mackintosh? If you haven’t, you must have seen things that was originally designed by him and his Wife, Margaret MacDonald. The rose, the typeface, clean lines, they are the archetypal of Art Nouveau. His designs were considered starkly bare compared to the then popular Victorian design style, which is quite ornate and busy.

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Rennie Mackintosh got his name after winning the design competition of Glasgow School of Art, when he was a student there to design the school building. Unfortunately part of the very building got burned down in 2014 accidentally by a GSA student. They are currently refurbishing this, it will be re-open to the public again next year -2016. The GSA tour that I went on encompasses the external building, the modern GSA building and the collection of original furnitures, designed by him and made by his Wife.

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As any famous artists back in the days, Mackintosh died poor. All his estate were valued to almost nothing then. The furniture he designed were once worth nothing too, that most people did not keep them, instead they gave it to GSA. How they regretted this now.

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Then went to the famous Willow tea room at Sauchiehall (which is willow in Scottish) Street designed by him.

Interestingly the tea room was  created by Miss Cranston, an enterprenial lady in the height in the era of Temperance (Yeah, I didn’t know that word either, in America they call it prohibition, which is the time where there is a social movement against drinking alcohol. Dry). Tea rooms are one of the socially accepted places for both Gentlemen and Ladies to meet and have lunch, etc. It was against the usual design of tea rooms then, that it was striking for people to go to the Willow tea room.

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There I ate a very funny combination of a fruitcake, which on the menu is named cloutie dumpling, with Arbroath Smokie, a typical smoked Scottish fish. Weird combination but ok, probably not for those who are not adventurous with their food. I tried other food in the tea room, I would say it is ok. To eat here I would really recommend you book in advance it gets really busy.

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The content of the tea room now are mostly replicas of the original.

After lunch, I then went to the Lighthouse, Mackintosh Centre, where parts of the building was that was designed by Mackintosh.

On a whole my self-packaged tour of Glasgow’s Mackintosh was really educational.

I will definitely return to Glasgow when the refurbished building is complete.

Have you seen his work before or have you seen designs inspired by him? What do you think?