Monday, December 10

Outdoor living inside

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With alarm about our troubled planet and creatures living on it, and in an almost dystopian digital world, decor is moving towards all things living

In an almost imagined dystopian world, the race, it seems, is on in our homes to hold on to the very things that give the earth meaning and life: animals, plants, nature.

Abandoned tortoise shells, animal skulls, outworn snake skins, herbal tonics, printer’s trays of herbs, pressed flowers and insect-inspired wallpapers plus jungle green walls are part of the move to bring the outdoors inside.

It is not only in our abodes, but also in the communal spaces we visit that this longing is played out for a tactile exchange with nature and the animal, plant and marine kingdoms, all fast facing extinction.

Botanicals themselves are seemingly everywhere, from fancy teas and artisanal gin to herbal skincare products, floral textile prints, zen-doodles and veganism.

Founder, designer and creator of botanical-inspired home cushions at Lindnr.com, Tracy Lindner, says she attributes the interest in everything “botanical” to several factors.

A Lindnr Protea White Cotton and Charcoal Twill cushion brings indigenous splendour indoors. Picture: Supplied

“My own motives are in reaction to my overwhelmingly digital life, a conscious move towards a more thoughtful, ‘slow’ mindset, away from the fast pace of work and pervasive technology. Artificial Intelligence and the Internet Of Things is now the new normal and people like myself are actively seeking the non-digital.

“The whole ‘slow’ movement is part of this change of pace, the adoption of a more balanced, family-oriented lifestyle, including a growing interest in the benefits of plants for skin and in alternative health care and mental health.

“Historically, the interest was in ‘the exotic’, linked to the age of exploration and championed by naturalists such as Alexander von Humboldt and Charles Darwin.

“Today, the desire to capture or harness the beauty of the natural world is, to my mind, in reaction to the shrinking of habitats and the escalating dying out of species.”

Paul Harris, founder and creator of botanical home decor gift shop PoléPolé.co.za in the Woodstock Exchange, agrees.

Botanical decor, by PoléPolé, brings colourful natural life into the home. Picture: Supplied

“There is a huge awareness of plants globally. They have always been an influence in the fashion industry, but now people are surrounding themselves with living or illustrative plants.

“The world is such a busy, rushed place that we need to have a quiet place at home to unwind or meditate.

“There is also a massive movement around our eco-system and the effects of global warming on the environment. I think people are slowly understanding this and wanting to protect nature in a small way, even if subconsciously.

“Plants can also be comforting. It’s almost like having a pet to look after as they also have needs like water, light, rest and nutrition.”

For centuries flora and fauna have been documented with incredible illustrations and these have been reinterpreted into printing methods for textiles, wallpapers and artworks, and used for home furnishings like cushions, throws, curtains, baskets and more.

Then there is the more scientific approach of collecting and documenting by preserving plant species as a pressing, sketch or photograph.

“I cannot walk on the mountain without stopping a dozen times to take a photo of our delicate fynbos,” says Harris.

“My obsession with botanicals in the home is that they make me feel calm. The largely green colour is neutral to the eye and the plants themselves filter the air we breathe and produce essential oxygen.

“Indoor plants come in so many shapes and sizes that they can either fill an empty space or add a sculptural element to an area that needs something more graphic. The patterns of the leaves can be sharp and jagged or round and smooth and can cast incredible shadows. They can be positioned to break or divide rooms.”

Nicki Ellis, founder and designer of Love Milo whose “gogga” designed wallpaper helps to bring the outside in without being bitten, believes the wellness trend has played a role in the rise of green decor.

There’s no danger of suffering a nasty bite when you carry a Love Milo insect-covered sling bag. Picture: Supplied

“Nature is part of our make-up and people are becoming more aware of its calming and relaxing effect. I think we are living in a world where people are more conscious about connecting to nature and appreciating its beauty.

“Not only is it better for our mood and well-being to have greenery inside our homes, but it looks good, too. You can be creative to bring in the green aesthetic, like having living walls in your kitchen, or hanging succulents in your bathroom.”

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