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  • One of the lighting designs by David D'Imperio is this Ozone light, whose linear structure references atmospheric molecules.

  • The Hydra chandelier in metallic blue-green, inspired by designer David D'Imperio's visions of microscopic ocean life.

  • One of designer Abigail Edwards' wallpapers, Brambleweb, left and above, is meant to represent nature in an interesting way.


Mother Nature meets modern décor

Published: Saturday, Jul. 6, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6CALIFORNIA LIFE

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 décor and furnishings, range from startling to serene.

A South African garden

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 it has his 28-inch, square, white-framed prints of aloe plants. The oversize, spiky succulents look like flora – or perhaps even fauna – from another planet. Visit

Bones about it

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 gold luster. Visit

Wild light

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 are transformed into the Neuron fixture for wall or ceiling. You 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. Visit

Cool rugs

At last spring's International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City, New York designer Barbara Barran 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. Visit

Wallpaper storm

British designer Abigail Edwards showed her nature-inspired wallpaper at the New York fair. She's launched a design called Storm Clouds – 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 Wilson's Crystals are inspired by the work of Wilson Bentley, who spent a half-century photographing snowflakes. The wallpaper features an intricate print of 30 snowflakes.

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

Ceramics evoke the sea

Parisian designer Gilles Caffier uses ceramics as the medium for pieces such as 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 octopus tentacles. That's the wonderful thing about nature: so much scope for imagination. Visit

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