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Now you see it…

Trompe l’oeil (literally fooling the eye) has a long and glorious history, whether in Veronese’s painted ceilings to Palladian villas or entire houses with imitation external features in the Italian fishing village of Camogli. Once it was cheaper than ‘the real thing’. Now, when labour is cheap, illusion may well cost more than reality.

But it still has a role to play, often in making buildings more playful, both inside and out. This is in part the effect of the trompe l’oeil that architect Sean Griffiths has used on a house in south London, shown on Dezeen. The kitchen floor appears to be three-dimensional which could be disorientating (although not as bad as those floors that really play with one’s idea of gravity). And there is a painted column that, from the correct angle, appears to be three-dimensional.

But Griffiths has also done clever things with mirrors which, although impossible to understand in the photos, apparently make a re-entrant corner required by planning disappear. At a time when every square foot of space is at a financial premium, creating the sensation of space artificially, however much one has to pay the architect and builder, seems like a bargain.

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