Inaccurate Restorations: Charles Mackintosh's Sauchiehall St. Willow Tea-Rooms

Date
2014-04-15
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Caudill, Ontario
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Interior Design
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Interior Design
Abstract

Charles Mackintosh designed among the most successful tea-rooms of the early twentieth century, in particular, the Willow Tea-Rooms in Glasgow, Scotland. Because of their ground-breaking modern forms and ornament, Mackintosh's designs for this building are still considered to be among the most important of the period. Unfortunately, Glasgow is failing its famed architect. This paper argues that three twentieth century interventions caused significant damage to Mackintosh's design, some of which are irreversible. They include, 1) transforming the Room de Luxe into a bridal shop for Daly's Department Store, 2) restoring the Room de Luxe as a tea room, using inaccurate reproductions of Mackintosh's furniture, and 3) inappropriately modifying the ground floor and exterior façade for Henderson's Jewelry Store.

Methodology encompasses literary analysis of scholarly journal articles, magazine articles, and books. Organizations consulted include: Architectural Association School of Architecture, Glasgow Tourism Department, and the Mitchell Reference Library. Publications include Society of Architectural Historian's journal, Burlington magazine and Tea Time Magazine, Charles Mackintosh by Kaplan, Taking Tea with Mackintosh by Kinchin, and Charles Mackintosh by Crawford.

Findings indicate that Mackintosh's comprehensive design concept for the Willow Tea-Rooms has been altered due to repeated inaccurate renovations. Viewers now have a diminished ability to comprehend the original aesthetics and meaning. Without proper restoration, Mackintosh's vision for the historical Willow Tea-Rooms will continue to be misinterpreted by viewers and historians will not understand the full significance of the architect's work.

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