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Long wood dining table and chairs by Charles Mackintosh

Charles Mackintosh and His Phantom Furniture


Scottish architect and designer Charles Mackintosh, was known for his originality and for his exceptionally beautiful and strange furniture.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Scottish architect and interior designer Charles Mackintosh would create furniture to bring together Neo-Gothic style and Scottish art. The resulting objects had a personality that had never been seen before and had a physical presence that, according to many critics, resembled specters.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh studied art in Glasgow and, at the age of 21, began to work as an illustrator in the Honeyman and Keppie architecture firm, where he would work for 25 years and established a career as an architect. Some of his best known architectural works are the Glasgow School of Art and Hill House. By 1920, Mackintosh had abandoned architecture and left Glasgow for London. He, however, continued to paint with watercolors and he would periodically return to his hometown for the rest of his life.

His work, which is for the most part unknown in the United Kingdom —especially his interior design and furniture— would be recognized in other cities in Europe such as Vienna, Moscow and Turin.

In addition to painting, he devoted a great part of his life to interior and furniture design, which were characterized by the simple materials used to make them and their unconventional shapes. They would also follow an evident pattern of Scottish design, combined with the Neo-Gothic style that also defined other schools tied to his oeuvre, such as Art Nouveau. The work of this Scotsman would also work with the values of British modernism, which was burgeoning at the time.

Mackintosh’s work, and his group, would be known as the Glasgow School, or “the School of Ghosts”, perhaps because of the objects they created —chairs, tables, desks and dressers— that possess a restrained beauty, as well as a strong presence, makes them objects that seem to observe their viewers, as if these pieces of furniture, ghosts of the past, beings at the service of others, had a life of their own.

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