The incredible timber ceiling at National Assembly for Wales by Richard Rogers makes me go weak at the knees.


I am often asked which element is the most important in interiors. And… I find this a really difficult question to answer. As I’m sure most of you would agree, any successful space is made up of many many components which need to work together as a cohesive (fully sick) unit. Just like a well rehearsed orchestra, or a symphony which requires a myriad of notes and changing rhythms to produce something which is worthwhile listening to, similar rules apply to architecture and interiors.

I guess if I had to single out one of those elements, even though I just said that I find this virtually impossible… then, yes – you’ve guessed it – I would probably place ceilings on the top of the list (boom-boom, get it? It’s a dad joke). I see ceilings as unifying elements within a space. The icing on the cake. They are almost always the most complex and the hardest to get right. Ceilings usually need to work pretty hard from the functional point of view, often incorporating those highly annoying yet super useful things like air-conditioning, fire sprinklers, acoustic treatment etc. Why do I say all this? Because I spent almost 6 months testing my patience designing a very complex sculptural ceiling on one of my recent projects. Also, ceilings are something we can always see, unlike floors and walls which are often obscured by furniture or people. A beautiful ceiling is almost like a good head of hair… or an interesting hat. It’s one of the first things we notice on a person, and the same goes with an interior.

I do hope you enjoy this little selection of what I consider to be very beautiful examples of sculpted ceilings from around the world. And since this post became a MONSTER in the making, I decided to split it in two. The second part will run next Friday (9th September). But only if you tell me that you love me. It’s pretty fair, no?

Ciao for now.

x dana


The Quadracci Pavilion at Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM), designed by the awesome Santiago Calatrava. Image via Blue Ant Studio.


The library of the faculty of philology in the Free University, Berlin. Via Flickr.


Bagsvaerd Church in Copenhagen by Jorn Utzon, 1976 via 27-the project.


Dumas & Chaine Cabinet in Paris by SWAN Architectes, via ArchDaily.


Teshima Art Museum by Tokyo-based architect Ryue Nishizawa and Japanese artist Rei Naito. Via designboom. Simplicity and refined elegance at it’s best!


Igloo-like noodle restaurant near Mount Fuji, Japan called ‘Hoto Fudo’. Designed by Takeshi Hosaka Architects,  via dezeen.


Ananti Club, Seoul by SKM Architects, via ArchDaily.


Ahmanson Founders Room in LA by Belzberg Architects, via ArchDaily.


‘Vault Room’ by Brussels based practice 51N4E, via designboom.


Small can be beautiful too. Japanese hotel room renovated by Touhoku University students via dezeen.


I’m sorry but I am not sure where this is – apparently an Alvaar Aalto design. Do speak up if you know so that I can update this caption. Image via arcroll.


Linear fabric ceiling at Hilton Pattaya, Thailand by Department of Architecture, via ArchDaily.


Aesop store in Singapore has 30 km of coconut-husk string hung from the ceiling. Designer by Melbourne architects March Studio. Image via Vectro Ave.


Hairdresser salon by Zurich designer Claudia Meier, via dezeen.


Thousands of fibers enveloped the entire space like clouds at ‘Second Nature’ exhibition by Tokujin Yoshioka, via dezeen.


Three-dimensional carpet ceiling installation at ‘The monsoon club’ by Serie Architects, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. Via designboom.


Art Gallery Showroom by Antonio Ravalli Architetti, via dezeen.


Installations by Ryuji Nakamura – previously blogged about here.


Nobis Hotel by Claesson Koivisto Rune via ArchDaily. (Actually, I don’t think this is a ceiling – looks more like a light… But it has the effect of a sculpted ceiling so it made the cut.)

About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Design Strategy, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places & experiences.

11 Responses

  1. Kirsty

    I’m with you on these Dana – great eye candy! I think the ceiling / light in the last image is the ‘cloud’ (at least that’s what we call it), from Vitra – we just put one in on a project. Looking forward to part 2. Catch you soon, K

  2. Sal

    Holy WOW! What an amazing post. I want to see more.
    Thank you for this incredible collection Dana.

  3. Brendan

    Aalto is the master of the hot ceiling. I believe the image is of the Nordjyllands Kunstmuseum.

  4. Oliver @ Sabi Style

    I love this post! Now that I stop to think about it, I have to nod my head and agree with you. Its the fact that they are stripped bare with little to divert ones attention that gives them so much presence.

    Its funny that hotels mostly have boring ceilings, have you ever noticed that?
    I do when I lie there looking at them…
    Its such a rare delight when they do something exciting.

    One of my favourite ceilings has to be at the Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona ( ) it just lifts my spirits every time I see it…

    I guess the Sistine Chapel isn’t too shabby either when it comes to ceilings ( ) but that sort of makes sense in a church. I imagine that when Michelangelo was dabbing his paint he was conscious that people would be sitting there looking up, wanting to connect spiritually with their maker.

  5. Anthony

    Brendan is right. I think the Aalto building is also called the Aalborg Museum of Modern Art. You can try using Google’s “search by image” tool ( whenever you have trouble identifying the name/subject of some photo. Just click on the camera icon and either past a photo URL or upload a photo. :) I really like your website by the way. Cheers!


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