Design Manifesto: Case Studies
This part of the Design Manifesto aims to take case studies to show the type of thing we look for during the Plum Test
Case Study 1: Breakdown
The shell: Lovely proportioned room – high ceilings, large windows. Plastic-framed windows, horrid, dated colour on walls.
The things: Very thin curtains are not good for a bedroom with such a lot of natural light. Very cheap, generic-looking artwork above the bed and clashing tapestry on the adjacent wall. Lamps and cushions with sheen are garish, especially together.
The look: Dated and unappealing mix of colours and cheap textures – does not fit into any design styles.
The feel: Airy and plenty of natural light but gets no design points. Not a home you’d want to spend any real time in – living room and kitchen are also functional but uninspiring.
Overall judgement: Very uninspiring from a design perspective but the proportions of the rooms are nice and it gets good natural light.
Case Study 2: Breakdown
The shell: Fabulous lofty proportions, original plaster cornicing, old wood floors, stunning timber windows and ornamental wooden fireplace. Lovely fixtures, handles, light switches, sockets etc.
The things: Everything in the home is super stylish and has clearly been decorated by someone with a great eye – interesting furniture covered in beautiful mix of fabrics. This mix of vibrant patterns could be awful in the wrong hands. Nice lamps and houseplant. Interesting collection of design objects, including one-off pieces.
The look: This stylish home draws together aspects of a number of styles: sophisticated city style in the traditional shape of the chairs and lamps, eclectic in the mix of patterns and colours, and Hollywood regency in the velvet sofa. It’s not a prescribed ‘look’- it’s a nuanced combination of different styles put together by someone who has a natural knack for mixing colours and patterns. It has its own coherence even if it’s not a clear example of any single style.
The feel: It feels super glam, special, sophisticated, and is a space that you’d want to spend time in and even sip a cocktail in. The arrangement of the furniture is very sociable and the low level lighting creates a lovely cosy atmosphere. Overall judgement: Prime Plum material. This has it all: a beautiful shell, stylish and original things, a great overall look, and a sophisticated, glamorous feel. Very Instagram-friendly. It’s both characterful and luxurious – the ultimate antidote to the generic luxury hotel aesthetic.
Case Study 3: Breakdown
The shell: Generic tower-block feel – no architectural elements of interest despite offering fabulous views
The things: Terrible art – incongruous, very garish colour and looks like a stock image. Also wrong size for the space. Ugly, generic sofa in dodgy fabric and with very random cushion, not very attractive cushions.
The look: Does not fit in to any desirable interiors style. No real character or design flair.
The feel: Generic, not terribly cosy. Not a super sociable layout.
Overall judgement: Very uninspiring, generic, rental vibe design-wise – feels dated and contains a real hotchpotch of things. Great views and natural light though.
Case Study 4: Breakdown
The shell: Lovely wooden framed wall of windows, archways, and stylish cement floors. Gorgeous kitchen, perfect mix of understated with interesting combination of textures and features.
The things: Nice partially-visible shelving with minimal glassware/crockery and sculptural plant. Super stylish marble worktop.
The look: Clean, minimalist feel with some lovely accents of character. Very coherent styling – focus on good-quality materials
The feel: Calming, light-filled space. Very aspirational (pared- down but feels high-end and not at all generic).
Overall judgement: Scores very highly in both the ‘Shell’ and ‘Things’ categories and feels great – very good attention to detail materials-wise and has clearly been designed by someone with a great eye, sense of touch, and spatial arrangement. Clever use of space.
Case Study 5: Breakdown
The shell: Uninspiring proportions but spacious with a contemporary-feeling.
The things: Items seem to be of fairly good-quality but no art or books though. The mix of colours doesn't quite work.
The look: A somewhat coherent aesthetic but too generic and bland.
The feel: Clean, fresh, modern, decent quality but lacks in warmth and character.
Overall judgement: Adequate quality and modern feel but feels very generic. Looks comfortable but lacks any real character.
Case Study 6: Breakdown
The shell: Lovely windows, attractive floorboards and rug, sleek kitchen and a nice open-plan layout. The space is flooded with natural light thanks to the many windows.
The things: Very high standard – nothing looks cheap or generic, feels like someone has lovingly chosen each and every object in the home. Attractive furniture, nice lamps, feature antique mirror, thoughtfully arranged shelves, interesting art.
The look: A pleasing mix of minimalism and sophisticated city style. The room is very well laid-out and all the textures, colours, artwork come together extremely stylishly.
The feel: It feels extremely sociable as a space – large and open- plan but with a number of different mini areas created through clever arrangement of furniture. Feels very light during the day and cosy during the evening due to the many low level lamps in the sitting area.
Overall judgement: Prime Plum material – gorgeous shell, lovely things, looks stylish and coherent and feels welcoming and super sociable. This definitely feels like a lovingly-crafted home that’s lived in (strong anti-hotel vibes) and you get a good sense of the owner from the home.
Case Study 7: Breakdown
The shell: Uninspiring room layout with no architectural elements of interest. Awkward room shape.
The things: The black sofa is unstylish and although the rest of the furniture is more design-led, it still looks generic as if from Ikea.
The look: There is a Scandi look to the room, but overall it looks a bit unsophisticated.
The feel: The natural light provides an open and welcoming atmosphere but it doesn't seem like the most sociable setting.
Overall judgement: Spacious with good natural light. Some pieces don’t fully work together – a few expensive bits of furniture alongside some cheaper pieces.
Case Study 8: Breakdown
The shell: Very unique, industrial shell, with double-height ceilings, polished concrete floor, and original wood beams. Nice warehouse-style windows.
The things: Nice Mid-century modern style furniture, nice house plants (though could be larger), visually coherent industrial wall lamps. The floor sofa piece looks a bit lost in the middle of the room and the dining chairs looks slightly dubious.
The look: Very coherent industrial look – muted, monochromatic and minimalist.
The feel: Doesn’t feel super cosy and some of the furniture looks slightly randomly placed. That said, it feels glamorous, inspiring and unique.
Overall judgement: This is clearly a very unique home, with lots of authentic, individual, industrial character. It won’t be for everyone (some older guests might find it a bit severe-looking/feeling) but younger design types will love it. Though it’s not perfect, it’s very cool in a James Bond kind of way, an easy pass and definitely an interesting addition to the collection. And last but not least, head over to the final section of our Design Manifesto where you'll find our favourite design styles explained.