The Tea Rooms of Mackintosh
by Alan Crawford and Wendy Kaplan
Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh is famous for his tea rooms, and he deserves to be. The Willow Tea Rooms in Sauchiehall Street were among his most original buildings and the most complete in their scheme of decoration and furniture. In the Salon de Luxe, the inner sanctum of the Willow, the waitresses even wore chokers and dresses designed by Mackintosh.
If they were still flourishing as tea rooms in their original state, the Willow Tea Rooms would stand beside Glasgow School of Art and the Hill House as one of a trio of Mackintosh masterpieces. And they were only the finest of a dozen or so tea-room interiors that Mackintosh [and his wife and collaborator Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh] worked on between 1896 and 1917.
A Unique Building Type
Mackintosh was a consummate stylist, and most of the writing about him is concerned with style, and style alone. But his tea rooms, which were spread over most of his career, should also be treated as a specialized building type — the tea room as a place of public refreshment.
This article is excerpted from Charles Rennie Mackintosh edited by Wendy Kaplan, with permission of the publisher, Abbeville Press, Inc. >>>
Charles Rennie Mackintosh's the Willow Team Rooms. The front tea room, looking toward the lunchroom and tea gallery at the back of the building.
Photo: "Dekorative Kunst" (April 1905): 260
The street front of the Willow Tea Rooms, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Glasgow, Scotland, as reconstructed in the late 1970s.
Photo: Eric Thorburn
Click on thumbnail images
to view full-size pictures.