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As an exploration of design inspired by the natural world, the release of Fabiola Reyes’s Nature, by Spanish publishing house Monso, is certainly timely. The alluring designs on the pages promised to be an excellent showcase of the progress designers are making in the field of sustainable design.
Indeed, some of the designs that stood apart for using recycled materials were the PET Project jellyfish by Miwa Koizumi, Felt Rocks by Stephanie Forsythe and the Other People’s Rubbish lights by Heath Nash. Also, the consideration of synthetic materials as possibly more environmentally sensitive and sustainable, offers an interesting counterpoint. Assessing this impact in creating the Trabecula Bench or Pokkari Light on the natural environment would be part of evaluating the overall design value.
However, it was disappointing to find that Nature does not cover these ecological aspects of the featured projects. The explanations accompanying the projects do not include mention of the materials or processes used. Instead, the designers’ personal experiences are the focal point. Nature is about how people feel towards, interpret and are inspired by nature, taking readers on an enriching and delightful exploration of ideas. Centred on people and human emotions, it offers a revealing commentary on how we relate to nature and think about its role in our lives.
As such, redirecting my pre-conceptions, expressive creative highlights included Dominic Bromley’s delightful Shoal light, in which, interestingly, the synthetic representation of the suspended fish seemed more appropriate to capture and convey the sense of awe in nature. In turn, simpler, less laboured recreations, like the Scorpion lamps, spoke poignantly of nature in its essential form. Conceptually, on the other hand, the bright Mutatoes by Uli Westphal carried a potent message about our controlling relationship with nature.
Published by Monsa, Nature does show some aesthetically alluring and conceptually powerful works on its pages. Sustainability issues aside, it remains an aesthetic and psychic evaluation of the significance of nature – and, just like nature, this also comes along with some unpleasant looking and overly sentimental pieces.