Maybe it was inevitable, but there can be no doubt that modern design is going organic. Glossy surfaces, sleek profiles and flawless finishes have ruled the contemporary design scene for decades, and still have plenty to recommend them—but earthy, unrefined materials have their own particular allure, and designers have begun to notice. On the modern furniture and lighting scene, in interior design schemes, and on fashion runways, here's been a noticeable back-to-basics trend, a movement in which flawless man-made materials have been passed over in favor of repurposed and naturally occurring elements—each chosen precisely for its imperfection and unvarnished beauty.
There's been a noticeable back-to-basics trend, a movement in which flawless man-made elements have been passed over in favor of repurposed and naturally occurring materials.
Arteriors Nantucket Bowl
Nature made, the Arteriors Nantucket Bowl is an organically beautiful modern design piece, artfully fashioned from a single piece of driftwood, its irregular shape and imperfections a part and parcel of its striking visual appeal.
Piet Boon's photo-realistic concrete wallpaper for NLXL is so authentic looking, it fools the eye into seeing a real concrete wall. An ideal solution for imbuing an interior with industrial elegance, the textural richness and color variation of this Concrete Wallpaper illustrates the appeal of surfaces left in their unvarnished state.
Cork, a material gleaned from the outer later of the cork oak tree, is a highly renewable resource that can be harvested every 25 years without harming the tree's lifespan. Once a strictly commercial material—uncork that wine bottle, please—cork has become an increasingly desirable material in contemporary design, with cork-based modern furniture, decor pieces, and even entire cork-covered walls no longer a novel idea. Waterproof, durable, malleable, and imbued with fire-retardant properties, cork is also gaining favor for its earth tones and textural variations.
A section of a locust tree defines the Locust Wood Chair from Sentient, its natural, irregular contours forming an unforgettable silhouette. This contemporary chair is a whimsical profile in natural beauty.
Silkworm cocoons, typically discarded after the worms' cycle is complete, are amongst the organic waste material harvested by Ango, a modern lighting brand. The Midnight Moon pendant light features a hand-applied composition of silkworm cocoons (colored with non-toxic fabric dyes) attached to a wire matrix.
L.A. fashion label Brock Collection, which won the top prize in the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2017, garnered more attention with the Resort 2018 collection, in which traditionally feminine garments, like floral dresses and ruffled tops were given an earthy twist: showcased prominently on many ensembles was burlap, an anything-but-refined fabric which the designers had originally seen at a vintage textiles shop.
Scraplights by Graypants
Recycled cardboard is the material of choice for Scraplight pendant lights by Graypants. Each lampshade is precision cut with a laser and assembled by hand using non-toxic adhesive. These sustainably sourced and hand-crafted contemporary pendants project both strength and elegance, and cast a nuanced glow through each intricately layered composition.
David Trubridge lighting has long been defined by its sustainably sourced materials—namely, bamboo plywood—and emphasis on eco manufacturing and shipping methods. Informed by the natural habitat of his native New Zealand, Trubridge has created a range of ethereal modern lamps that can be shipped flat, and easily assembled. The Flax Pendant, left, and the new Navicula pendant, below, illustrate the collection's organic, nature-derived forms, which emit a magical light quality.
Paris design studio Merci created a suite of fool-the-eye modern wallpaper patterns for Dutch brand NLXL, in which photographs of vintage tin ceiling tiles have been converted to contemporary wallpaper motifs. Projecting the kind of hyper-realism to fool even the most keen observer, Brooklyn Tins wallpaper celebrates the time-worn charm of weathered materials and the beauty found in objects long past their use-by date.