This dollhouse is a masterclass in minimalist interior design


Milan-based architect Marialaura Irvine has created a dollhouse inspired by modernist female designers, complete with minimalist design and bespoke furnishings. While it’s perhaps not the sort of thing you’d want to give your little one for Christmas, the beautifully crafted piece is truly a design dream house, paying homage to the very best in female design. 

The project, titled Paints According to Irvine, celebrates the beauty of natural colour while embracing Irvine’s sleek architectural style. (If you’re interested in creating your own natural paints,  take a look at this guide on how to make your own watercolour paint from plants).

Dollhouse created by architect Marialaura Irvine

The pieces expertly play with the concept of depth and space (Image credit: Delfino Sisto Legnani)

The dollhouse comprises 14 separate rooms, all with a unique and modern style. Inspired by her childhood, Irvine captures the spirit of creativity deriving from vivid childhood imagination. “I reconstructed in my mind its spaces and pictured the colours, the people living in the house and their stories,” says Irvine. 

After enrolling at the Faculty of Architecture, Irvine was inspired by architects such as Behrens, Le Corbusier and Gropius, but was disappointed by the lack of female representation in the field. “Rather than a statement, it was a necessity,” says Irvine, highlighting the importance of spotlighting female designers. 

Dollhouse designed by architect Marialaura Irvine

Each modular design aims to showcase Matteo Bironi’s natural and vibrant pigments (Image credit: Delfino Sisto Legnani)

Each modular piece of the dollhouse captures the essence of groundbreaking female designers, such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Clara Porset, Eileen Gray and Ruth Asawa, among others. The use of monochromatic tones in each room showcases the depth of the paints and attests to Irvine’s strategic architectural style, from stripped-back liminal spaces to modernist statement features. The piece also features miniaturised modernist furnishings and even a doll – although she’s not quite Barbie, she fits wonderfully in this designer dream house. 

The work was created in a collaboration between Irvine and Italian surface specialist Matteo Brioni, who created the natural powder paints for the miniature home. The “natural pigments which, according to the density of the powder, are transformed into marvellously imperfect, three-dimensional surfaces”, are a perfect medium for capturing the essence of Irvine’s style which celebrates the beauty of imperfection. 

Dollhouse pieces by architect Marialaura Irvine

Irvine created a number of miniature pieces to furnish her dollhouse (Image credit: Delfino Sisto Legnani)

In a traditionally male-dominated field, it’s wonderful to see a female designer celebrating the pioneering work of other women in the architectural sphere. Miniaturising such a masculinised and adult field is an adorable homage to childhood and female creativity, and we love every mini detail that has gone into this beautiful project. 


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