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THE WISE POWER OF THE WOOD

Textile artist and fashion designer Laura Barüel has a passion for nature, which she depicts in her designs. For the Danish Crafts Collection, she has created four products based on her own pattern Wood.

By Charlotte Jul

A fern from the woodland floor. A harebell with perfect little bells in the company of anemones, wood sorrel, mosses, mushrooms and maple. Botany and the wood form the general theme and motif in Laura Baruël’s project Wood for the Danish Crafts Collection. Wood, which is Laura’s own design, forms the basis of an interior collection consisting of four products that utilize the same pattern in four different ways and materials. Laura Baruël created Wood after an inspiration trip to Finland, where she wandered in the woods. To see. To gather. To be. ’I had suffered a concussion, and the best advice the doctors could give me was to spend time in nature. Apparently, we spend less energy interpreting our surroundings there, because our biological system is geared to being in nature. I find that fascinating. What if our everyday life becomes so disconnected from nature that future generations won’t know what to do with it?’

Laura Baruël’s artistic perception of the Finnish woodlands is inspired by the work of the Norwegian architecture professor Christian Norberg-Schultz, who explored the concept of genius loci – spirit and impact of place as a relationship between people and sites. The notion that different places have different moods that affect us. Laura Baruël uses the characteristics of the Nordic region as the specific base for her interior collection Wood, which is part of a larger project that she calls Patterns of Praise.

‘Wood has been a way for me to find my way back home. To find my place in our increasingly uniform and globalized world.’ The woods of southern Finland provided the answer, as Baruël gathered flowers, plants and roots and took them home to register their shapes, colours and textures – and, not least, compose a pattern based on more than twenty different plant species.

In her work with the plants she gathered, Baruël drew on inspiration from Nordic artists such as Marie Gudme Leth, Josef Frank and Harald Solberg. The result is four commercial products with a clear artistic edge based on a pattern that is in fact a one-off design, as all the plant images are printed by hand in colours based on the original naturalist source and then transferred to a computer. Here, the plants and flowers are blown up, creating a sense of entering a natural world – like Thumbelina in a giant underwood. ‘The idea is that nature embraces you. The enlarged motifs make it possible to create an illusion – a distortion of the real world, which nevertheless mimics reality and thus draws the wise power of the wood into your home. On wallpaper, bedlinen, a cushion and a kimono. Because home is like a bright clearing in the wood for Northerners who are forced indoors for many months out of the year by the climate,’ the designer explains.

Sienna, purple, beech-green, pale blue, dark green, white and sand. Wood is a light pattern. Like a Nordic summer night transferred to wallpaper that becomes an installation you can lose yourself in. Or to bed linen that brings a multitude of botanic life into your bedroom. To a cushion, where the coarse weave brings added structure and interference to the motif, or a kimono, where the pattern spills across the seams to form a three-dimensional motif in motion. A natural and direct link to Laura’s earlier work with clothing design. As an interesting point, the pattern communicates a different feel in the four contexts. By basing the pattern on natural plants exactly as they are, Baruël achieves an added degree of variation in the pattern that she could never have predicted or planned. ‘The forest is so wise and rich in variation, vibrancy and colour. I can’t even imagine not having nature as part of our life and everyday world, and I hope that future generations will find their way back to the wood. I grew up in the country, and I really miss not having the wood in my backyard.’