Renaissance and Reminiscence

Posted Monday, March 4th, 2013

Dear Blog Readers,

Today’s Blog will mostly be specific to design influences and reminiscent objects. The titles are “Renaissance, Furniture and Wood Carving”, “Architecture”, “Design Patterns” and “Reminiscent Items”.


Renaissance, Furniture and Wood Carving

In our “Prototype” we sought to show an appreciation of the technical skill found through many crafts. Specifically we were interested in the processes and results found in wood carving, furniture and Renaissance features.


Decorative Renaissance motifs display natural flowing features yet can still create angular forms. By including such features into our art work we hoped to induce memories not only of a tactile nature but also visual reminders of Renaissance features found in many forms from architecture to furniture. These Renaissance features were a great source of inspiration for the wood carving aspect of the piece. Features such as these were used to create the curling ends of our tree branches in our “Prototype”.


Varying our sources of inspiration and thus increasing the possibility of stimulating memory recall we researched wood carving in furniture. Architecture, such as Gaudi’s, can be an expression of emotion and can be a work of art in itself. We discovered a range of designs from the highly elaborate to simple carvings.

Wood Carving

We also kept a look out for any wood carving during day to day life, for example when walking through parks or woodland areas.


During the design phase of our prototype we continued to look for inspiration. Architecture is a 3D environment that is immersive and  can overwhelm. Around us all are the textures and patterns of local architecture and we wished to incorporate this design aspect into our “Prototype”. We also found architecture on line with results that were very abstract.

Design Patterns

Imagery detailing patterns in multiples has great impact and can fixate the human mind. It processes the complexity to look clean and minimal. These patterns are evident throughout the ages but for our artwork we wished to use a more recent period of history, from Victorian times onwards.

Victorian William Morris used more modern shapes and colours than was commonly seen. These patterns were similar to what we appreciate visually, in terms of colour and shape range. We could re-interpret Morris’s designs with a similar more modern design, such as in some paintings. One possibility could be to combine a colour and etched transparent layer with floral and shaped patterning. Then a next step could be to have lighting come through, highlighting the etches. The lights could then change in intensity, colour and location. This could have the potential to fixate the viewer. The design would, through the changing light and patterns, visually go through movements in time, from floral patterns being completely visable to complete minimal abstraction.

Art Deco

Art deco designs were also researched in the hope that once integrated into the design of the piece this would help to stimulate more memories. These art deco designs could be found in many forms from furniture to glass work.

One art deco styled stained glass window gave inspiration for a tree-dimensional wood carving that was then integrated into the “Prototype”.

1950’s – 1960’s

With the understanding that vintage wallpapers and carpets can recall past memories and thoughts of comfort for certain dementia patients we were enthusiastic to incorporate such designs into our piece. In some cases we used the outline of a wall paper pattern as inspiration for three-dimensional ceramic pieces. Some patterns while kept as a whole could be rather overwhelming but focusing on particular sections helped source inspirations. We noticed that the center of one design was a perfect shape for a finger if it was made three dimensional. So after drawing our own design based on this idea we proceeded to make it using a metal stamp and pressing it into flattened clay.

This pattern along with many others gave inspiration for a three-dimensional wood carving which was included in the “Prototype”.


In one section of our “Prototype” we used retro 80’s patterns as an influence for our lighting plan. Our fluorescent retro style lights become activated by two coloured circular sections once a hand passes over them.

Reminiscent Items

Some actions are so well remembered that they become second nature, with memory of habitual shapes, environments, movements and functions. Interaction through memory such as switches, typewriters, handles or buttons can often require a form of muscle memory. Not only can reminiscent therapy occur through reminiscent rooms but there are many modern day objects that can be familiar too. Many people retain objects that hold personal sentiment, from family heirlooms to childhood toys, myself included (Liz), which while treasured can also induce powerful memories.

Another consideration was to make reminiscent and iconic items interactive through touch and therefore more stimulating. Once the objects are activated through touch they could  light up or make sound. For example a Grandfather clock when touched could light up inside the clock and weights section. This would enable a person to see the hour and minute hands and also the weight on the chain moving, with the ticking sound of the clock hands and the pendulum.

Keys and Locks

We found local support from the business Timpsons in Cardiff when sourcing materials for our reminiscent items and were kindly donated keys which we then went on to use in our “Prototype”.


We also had great local support from Tenovus, Rhwibina, who also kindly donated a range of ceramic plates which was then incorporated into a mosaic as part of our “Prototype”.