Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Earth as Muse!

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”
Henry David Thoreau

This year I’ve been thinking about the upcoming Earth Day and how it fits in with being an Interior Designer. There are the obvious associations with the Interior Design profession and how we need to be less wasteful, teach our clients about the joys of re-use and specify eco-responsible materials whenever possible. It’s amazing at how far our industry has come in the amount of “Earth-Friendly” products available verses say, ten years ago although I know we have a ways to go.

A simple Faux Bois table can add an earthly element in a pinch.

I guess I’ve been wanting to go beyond the obvious “Let’s be responsible and respectful to the Earth” and think in terms of how the Earth actually affects our creative process. It got me thinking that the Earth is really the ultimate muse!
William Morris' Woodland Weeds wallpaper from the V&A in London.

Not only is the earth something to behold and respect, but for centuries has been the major inspiration for the decorative arts, and the decoration of interiors, especially.
True Acanthus worship...A Corinthian capitol and base.

One of the first things that come to mind is the humble, but exalted Acanthus leaf. One could write volumes on the acanthus leaf and the decorative arts. One of the most obvious is a Corinthian capitol of a column, and other examples are endless from chair legs to moulding. In scouring the internet for inspiration I was taken with the Acanthus leaves (and other Flora and Fauna) done by William Morris, the famous English textile designer and hero of the Arts & Crafts movement. He seemed to catch the essence of his subject, while still imbuing it with an extra decorative strength.
William Morris' Acanthus leaves courtesy of Earthly Paradise.

In a more contemporary context, I couldn’t help but think of the sculptures of Andy Goldsworthy who chose to work out in nature with natural materials. I think his work personifies the Earth as muse!
Andy Goldsworthy Sticks Framing a Lake sculpture.

Like most creative people, when I am feeling stuck I turn to nature for inspiration. Barbara and I have often used color combinations that occur in nature as primary inspiration for projects, after all it doesn’t get better than right outside ones own door!
A perfect source of color inspiration.

When I think of famous Interior Designers that have used the earth as their primary inspiration my mind jumps immediately to the master of “over-the-top” Mr. Tony Duquette. Mr. Duquette clearly seems to have had nature on the brain throughout his creative process, as demonstrated through almost anything carrying his name.
The drawing room of Tony Duquette. Pleany of Earth inspiration to go around.

I hope this Earth day can be a reflection of what the Earth gives us every day and what this means to each of us and our pursuits.

Happy Earth Day! Get outside and be inspired!

David Hansen
* Top image: Andy Goldsworthy sculpture

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