By Sharon Oliver, Founder and Lead Designer of Sharon Oliver Interior Design
Interior design isn’t just the reformation of an empty space, but it is a reinvention of everything that already exists around you, a reinvention of the wondrous elements of nature that existed before you were even born. You just have to slow down and open your eyes a little wider to see it. Before you begin to ask how design can be based solely off of reinventions, let’s first explore the greatest design scheme of all time: Mother Earth.
Mother Earth embodies the elements of nature that surround us every day. Every time you lay out at the beach, watch the ripples of the current flow calmly up north, see the gentle waves brush against a rock, or see the outer bark of a tree trunk travel upward before splitting into smaller branches and ending in its crown of leaves, you are watching design at play.
Design is all around you because our greatest design portal is that of Mother Earth and all her natural elements. Everything you see in the interior design realm is a replica of her. The next time you open a wooden door inside of a restaurant, before letting it close, stop and admire it, let your eyes follow the grains in whatever direction it takes you and you will see how it mimics grains of a tree near your house. You can see a perfect example of this in the picture of wooden doors. Notice the different directions the grains of the distressed wood runs, some in straight linear patterns, other more circular in shape.
The next time you walk past a brick wall, glide your fingertips against the brick, feel its texture, feel the roughness of its surface, notice how it feels similar to the fine grains we feel when we rub our hands against wet sand at the beach. Bricks itself are made from nature’s natural elements (water and sand). The next time you choose a geometric print wallpaper with circular shapes, stop and stare at it a little closer, you will start to see the shape of the sun, a full moon, or even the shape of the orange or watermelon you just ate the other day. Notice the similarity in its circular patterns. Or how about when you cozy up with a soft furry pillow? The same fur that covers your mink and chinchilla pillows and gives it that soft texture is the same skin found on minks and chinchillas seen in nature. Design simply repeats nature’s patterns.
This is why nature is our greatest teacher. It is the birth mother and the foundation of everything we create or recreate in interior design. If you want to know how design was birthed, step outside your front door and you will have all the answers to the questions you seek. It’s about taking those pieces and elements of nature, and rearranging them in a way that creates a particular feeling when you walk into a room. Design tells a story. When done right, it tells the story of a person when you walk into their home, or the story of a restaurant before you take a bite of their food. Notice when you walk into a person’s home and you see sculptures of African statues on their table, Indian tapestry on the wall, and antique Chinese porcelain on display in their glass cabinets, it leads you to believe the person is an avid traveler or at least has a deep interest in culture. Notice that many seafood restaurants will have a picture of a boat on their wall, or incorporate blues and greens (the colors of water), or even have décor that includes twisted nylon rope, the same rope used to attach an anchor to its boat. You will know it is a seafood restaurant from these cues before you even open up a menu. Design speaks before your mouth does. Visual representation speaks before words. It goes beyond the surface of what immediately meets the eye because it is so much more than pretty colors and pretty décor. It is a strategic placement of textures, colors, shapes all derived from nature, along with practicality and functionality to create a unique story. As professional designers ourselves or simply lovers of good design, nature is our greatest inspiration and our greatest mentor.