Right at Home: Mother Na­ture meets mod­ern decor

The Progress-Index - At Home - - News - KIM COOK

Moth-wing light fix­tures? Thun­der­head wall­pa­per? If you’re an arm­chair nat­u­ral­ist, you’ll love one of this year’s big home decor trends. Artists and artisans have cap­tured flora, fauna and even me­te­o­rol­ogy in me­dia such as pho­tog­ra­phy, il­lus­tra­tion, me­tal and clay. The de­signs, trans­lated into wall decor and fur­nish­ings, range from star­tling to serene.

Clin­ton Fried­man’s gar­den in Dur­ban, South Africa, is home to more than 250 trees and 150 suc­cu­lent species. Des­ic­cated leaves, freshly pulled roots and labyrinthine flower heads all serve as ma­te­rial for his close-up pho­to­graphs. West Elm has pre­vi­ously col­lab­o­rated with Fried­man on a pil­low col­lec­tion; this sea­son they’ve got his 28-inch, square, white-framed prints of aloe plants. The over­size spiky suc­cu­lents look like flora — or per­haps even fauna — from an­other planet.

Brook­lyn, N.Y.-based Chris­tine Fa­cella has used her ex­pe­ri­ence as an il­lus­tra­tor and model maker at New York’s Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory to in­form her col­lec­tion of porce­lain an­i­mal skulls. The ac­cu­racy and in­tri­cacy of her work re­sults from sculpt­ing up to 20 molds for each piece.

Fa­cella por­trays many denizens of the North Amer­i­can wilder­ness, in­clud­ing coy­otes, bob­cats and beavers. The skulls are a com­pelling meld of an­ti­quar­ian cu­rios­ity and con­tem­po­rary objet d’art. The teeth on some gleam with 14-karat-gold luster. (www.beetle­and­flor.com )

Light­ing sculp­tor David D’Im­pe­rio finds his in­spi­ra­tion in na­ture’s struc­tures: The or­ganic geom­e­try of moth wings, hon­ey­combs and crys­tals gets turned into el­e­gant and un­usual light­ing in the old post of­fice in Stony Run, Pa., that D’Im­pe­rio has turned into a stu­dio.

Pen­dants and chan­de­liers, as well as sus­pended lin­ear fix­tures, are crafted out of ma­te­ri­als such as stain­less steel and alu­minum. D’Im­pe­rio’s Ozone light is a 5-foot length of shim­mer­ing cir­cles, like fizzy bub­bles lit from within. Sil­ver pow­der-coated steel and frosted Pyrex glass are trans­formed into the Neu­ron fix­ture for wall or ceil­ing. You can choose the color of the nu­cleus. Hydra is an oth­er­worldly chan­de­lier done in a metal­lic blue-green; the de­signer was in­spired by the mi­cro­scopic denizens of the deep sea.

At this spring’s In­ter­na­tional Con­tem­po­rary Fur­ni­ture Fair in New York City, lo­cal de­signer Bar­bara Bar­ran’s showed her Ice rug, in­spired by the sur­face of frozen wa­ter. The piece’s stri­a­tions and cool, wa­tery tones gave the slightly un­set­tling but wholly in­trigu­ing sense of stand­ing on ac­tual ice. That she’s ren­dered this il­lu­sion in hand-tufted wool is even more re­mark­able.

Bri­tish de­signer Abi­gail Edwards showed her na­ture-in­spired wall­pa­per at the fair. She’s launched a new de­sign called Storm Clouds — omi­nous thun­der­heads printed on a gray or blue back­ground, with white or cop­per metal­lic light­ning bolts. Her Bram­bleweb pa­per de­picts an Art Nou­veau-meets-Gothic swirl of bram­bles tipped with tiny metal­lic thorns. And Wil- son’s Crys­tals are in­spired by the work of Wil­son Bent­ley, who spent half a cen­tury pho­tograph­ing snowflakes. The wall­pa­per fea­tures an in­tri­cate print of 30 snowflakes.

Edwards also does a mu­ral con­sist­ing of 18 ce­ramic tiles dig­i­tally printed with drag­on­flies dart­ing or sit­ting on lithe, curl­ing branches.

Parisian de­signer Gilles Caffier uses ce­ram­ics as the medium for pieces like the Tur­tle Lamp, whose earthen-hued base evokes the plump, ridged pro­file of a tur­tle shell. He makes tex­tured stools and vases in matte ivory or graphite that re­sem­ble coral reefs, or per­haps bar­na­cle-laden pier posts, or maybe oc­topi ten­ta­cles. That’s the won­der­ful thing about na­ture: so much scope for imag­i­na­tion.


This pub­lic­ity photo pro­vided by abi­gailed­wards.com shows the de­signer Abi­gail Edwards’ wall­pa­per, “Bram­bleweb” in dusk, which evokes na­ture in star­tling and in­ter­est­ing ways. It il­lus­trates a tan­gle of vines tipped with shiny thorns.

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