Tranquil furniture collection is inspired by an enchanting moonlit lake

There are many nature-inspired designs these days, but many of them take that inspiration too literally. Sometimes they’d literally have the shape of a rock or the moon, or they might even use actual natural objects like leaves or twigs. While there’s definitely nothing wrong with that kind of interpretation, there’s also something to be said for gentler nods toward natural things and phenomena. These can lead the mind the wonder and wander, picking up hints and sparking the imagination to make connections and draw their own conclusions. Sometimes they might make cherished memories surface; other times, they become reminders of the more important things in life. This bowl-shaped table and lamps, for example, try to nudge our minds towards calmness and peace by subtly calling to mind the otherworldly serenity of a lake reflecting the moon in the dark of night.

Designer: Yifu Guo

The side table of this Lake Collection of minimalist furniture is already quite interesting on its own. Having a bowl shape, though not unheard of, isn’t exactly common. Tables with this form often have a central cylinder for its lone support, but the Lake side table has two rectangular legs on each side holding it up.

The glossy and reflective surface of the table is meant to resemble the dark waters of a lake at night, though you probably wouldn’t be able to make that conclusion immediately unless you knew the name of the furniture collection. It’s that kind of indirect and subtle association that makes such designs open to more than just one interpretation, which makes them more effective at conveying messages. In this case, the simplicity of the table’s form becomes not only a tribute to minimalist design but also a reminder to keep our lives simple.

Once you add one of the two table lamps that are part of this collection, however, the moonlit lake inspiration becomes a bit more pronounced. The yellow circular glow of the lamps reflected on the table’s surface immediately calls to mind the unearthly light of the moon on dark waters. The reflection is clear, smooth, and undisturbed, hinting that the waters are similarly clear and calm, a metaphor for calming our minds at the end of the day.

The Lake Collection’s simple design is meant to encourage reflection, especially of the world and nature around us. But even if you miss those cues, the attractive forms and sleek materials still make the furniture a sight to behold, no matter where you place them in the room. It’s a nature-inspired design that, just like nature itself, doesn’t shout to call your attention and simply immerses you in its beauty and wonder.

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Seashell-inspired chair combines digital and traditional techniques for a sculptural design

Chairs are one of those things that almost literally disappear into the background when in use, mostly because your body blocks most of it from view. Of course, there are chairs that were designed right from the start to be eye-catching and conspicuous, either because of their size or because of their design. This rather unusual chair is definitely both, with a wide body and an unconventional construction. Despite its almost alien-like appearance, this chair is actually inspired by a common Earth creature, one that happens to spend its entire life lounging on sea floors. Using modern digital techniques and more conventional fabrication processes, it demonstrates how nature can inspire not only breath-taking designs but also functional and even comfortable, though you might not exactly get that feeling just by looking at it.

Designer: Ernesto Pastore

There are many instances in nature where artistic forms develop over millennia of evolution, and one of the most common ones are the shells of bivalve mollusks. These marine lifeforms have turned their exoskeletons into something that does more than just protect their soft bodies inside. These shells have evolved to become elegant forms that have long been held in high regard for their unique contours that look like a metaphor for the undulating rhythm of the seas.

Admittedly, it’s not exactly that easy to discern the inspiration behind this Seashell Chair. Its ode to bivalves is mostly expressed in the dual curvatures that intersect to form the vertical and horizontal axes of the chair. The distinctive ribbed forms of a seashell are also represented in a nontrivial manner as a collection of bent steel rods that make the chair look more like a wireframe than a finished piece of furniture.

The manner of the chair’s production is also a bit unusual, at least as far as seating furniture goes. Its form is actually a product of computational design tools and algorithms rather than a direct plan from the designer’s hands. The result is a unique assembly of outlines that was then 3D printed first to serve as a guide for craftsmen. Transitioning from digital to traditional, steel rods are then carefully bent and welded to produce the final form of the chair. The regular variants are then powder-coated in black, white, or silver, but a stainless steel version uses a satin finish to make it more suitable for outdoor use.

This chair definitely stretches one’s imagination on how it relates to seashells, but both man-made and natural objects carry a certain organic elegance that binds them together. Despite the way it looks, the intersecting outlines actually provide stability and comfort, making the chair an excellent attention-grabbing choice for both indoor and outdoor spaces.

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Fire Lily-shaped observation deck creates a beautiful nature-inspired platform in the wetlands

Almost identically mimicking the Fire Lily (Gloriosa Lily) with its unique shape and upturned petals, Thilina Liyanage’s Wetland Observation Deck really makes nature larger-than-life. The deck, accessible via a flight of stairs, can accommodate small groups of up to 6-8 people, giving them enough space to mingle around and view the wetlands.

Designer: Thilina Liyanage

The Wetland Observatory Deck makes use of wood in Liyanage’s signature style. Sitting a cool 10 feet off the ground, the circular deck is made entirely from wood, as is the column it stands on. The decorative elements like the fire lily’s petals and sepals are made from bent sheets of wood too, using bamboo for its resilience to moisture as well as its ability to easily be curved into any shape. The petals that shroud the deck are true to form, perfectly imitating the real flower itself with its fire-like petals. Each petal is also colored red and yellow, as a tribute to the original flower, adding a vibrant touch to the deck. I’m not entirely certain whether having a vibrant observation deck is the best idea (given that camouflage is the key to any sort of wildlife observation), but this piece of estate does make for a great photo point and a sunrise/sunset viewing spot.

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Surreal yoga-center building looks like something out of Frank Gehry’s dreams

Designed to be a yoga retreat disconnected from civilization so you can find yourself amidst nature, the Metamorphosis Yoga Shala models itself on the shape of a butterfly cocoon. It builds on the metaphor of rebirth, or reinventing yourself through yoga… Although the fact that the building has absolutely no straight lines seems to be a humorous play on how humans are never in straight lines when they do yoga either! “The Metamorphosis of the clumsy and worldly caterpillar which transforms through an extraordinary biological process to a graceful Butterfly, is the core idea behind the building form and construction,” says designer Constantinos Yanniotis.

Designer: Constantinos Yanniotis

The building takes on an unconventional, almost surrealist architectural style that’s reminiscent of Gehry’s work with the Bilbao Guggenheim. It even uses metal sheeting on the outside, echoing Gehry’s style, albeit with an almost blobject-ish approach to architecture that would impress fans of Loewy and Luigi Colani. Solar panels on the top of the building help power it using renewable energy. The curved surface of the building proves rather handy by allowing the building to fit more panels in the same amount of projected space.

The yoga shala (or school in Hindi/Sanskrit) sits on a stepped slope, offering a stellar view of the forest and skies ahead. Its design, although unconventional, opens itself up to loads of natural light, thanks to the skylight above as well as the full-length window on the front that overlooks the landscape. The entire building is one singular space, an atrium that’s designed for yoga, meditation, and flow. There are multiple garden islands and orchards dotted around it, and a stone tearoom just in the vicinity for a cleanse before or after a rewarding yoga session.

The inside of the Metamorphosis Yoga Shala is cozy, thanks to its cocoon-like shape and the use of wood all along the interiors. The space is well-planned, with enough floor estate to fit multiple people and give them ample space to move and do yoga. Storage racks and shelves built directly into the walls let patrons keep their belongings like personal gear, exercise equipment, and yoga mats.

The Metamorphosis Yoga Shala is a winner of the A’ Design Award for the year 2022.

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Orchid-shaped villa is rare beautiful combination of nature-inspired architecture and luxurious living

Orchids are some of the most famously precious plant species just for how specific their cultivation needs are. An orchid is easily 30-50 times more expensive than a rose, so it only made sense that Thilina Liyanage chose that flower as inspiration for his luxury villa design, located somewhere on the banks of a rocky creek. The Orchid Villa is a rather eye-catching jewel emerging out of the wilderness. The luxury holiday home sits away from civilization, providing its residents with the perfect getaway residence for a weekend or two. The multi-level residence comes with living quarters on the lower floor, a private pool on the terrace, and a cantilever hammock that hangs right above an adjoining lake, giving you an incredible lounging spot to watch the sunsets.

Designer: Thilina Liyanage

The Orchid Villa falls perfectly into Liyanage’s nature-inspired style, but one could argue that this is perhaps one of his most beautiful pieces yet, with an aesthetic that almost perfectly balances elegance and visual commitment with spatial practicality. Sounds like a mouthful? Let me explain myself…

With the Orchid Villa, Liyanage’s done a remarkable job of fitting the proportions of a villa into the orchid shape without really any sort of compromise. The building still looks remarkably like its inspiration, with petals forming the walls and the facade on the side, and one lilting petal on the front that not only exposes the interiors, but also provides the perfect base for the hammock deck that emerges from the living quarters. It’s a beautiful building that looks exactly like the flower and serves almost perfectly as a luxury villa too.

Like almost all of Liyanage’s creations, the villa is realized using bent pieces of bamboo, assembled together to form the orchid shape. The bamboo is then clad with a translucent fabric that lets you see each individual bamboo column, almost looking like the veins in the petals of the flower. A clever use of lights allows the flower to change colors too, bringing a unique aesthetic to the overall architecture, and making it look just as beautiful at night as it looks during the day!

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This sleek mouse design was inspired by a graceful creature of the sea

As computers become a more integral part of human life, we have finally become more acutely aware of the design flaws in the devices that we use to communicate with these machines. Keyboards and mice haven’t changed their designs significantly over the decades, but manufacturers, designers, and especially users are feeling the pain of using these peripherals, quite literally even. While it might be harder to change the design of keyboards drastically, mouse designs are quite ripe for the picking. There are a few ergonomic mice coming out of the market and even more concept designs that try to reinvent the venerable computer pointing device. This mouse design, however, doesn’t stray too far from the norm but still delivers a form that is regal yet almost alien, just like the sea critter it takes inspiration from.

Designer: Hrishab Prasad

Truth be told, there are quite a few mouse concept designs that seem to be based on aquatic animals, which isn’t that surprising if you think hard about it. Fish and aquatic mammals are known for their sleek forms and their ability to move smoothly, qualities that are highly desirable for an object that needs to also move smoothly on your desk. Some of these animals also look alien to our eyes, which is also a perfect way to insert a bit of a “wow” factor into the design that reimagines the mouse (which is named for a land-based mammal, ironically).

Mylio takes its name from the scientific name of the stingray fish, one of those alien-like critters that are still a bit more familiar given their larger numbers and more visible presence in sea waters. The stingray is characterized by a very fluid and dynamic form, which is why it also lends its name to an iconic speedster on wheels. It’s definitely a fitting design to use for a mouse, especially one that can also look elegant on your desk when you’re not using it.

A stingray, however, is quite notable for the wing-like fins on each side, which is translated directly to this Mylio concept design. Some ergonomic mice already have something almost similar to these “fins,” but they’re often only applied on one side of the mouse. This limits the design to be favorable to right-handed users only or, on rare occasions, right-handed users only. In contrast, this concept design’s symmetrical fins make it possible to use the same mouse in either hand. These fins serve as resting spots for thumbs and palms.

Mylio uses other concepts, like a fingerprint sensor in the middle that can be used to unlock computers in a secure manner. Its core design, however, is really its novel shape, which is both attractive and more open to be used in either hand. Whether it is actually more ergonomic, however, is a slightly different question, especially considering how it doesn’t deviate too much from the typical shape of a mouse that is considered to be non-ergonomic by nature.

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This gorgeous floor mirror transports a lake shoreline into your room

Mirrors are great ways to add some accents to a room. Whether they’re actually functional or just decorative, their reflective surfaces alone are enough to bring some life to a space through a play of light, colors, and shapes. Even better, however, if a mirror is both useful and beautiful, which calls for some creative thinking and design. Most of the time, furniture makers focus on embellishing mirrors with rather fanciful frames, but some have also dabbled in changing the very shape of the mirror itself. This floor mirror, for example, might be a tight fit for some body types because of its irregular shape, but its play on forms creates an almost magical illusion of looking down at a lake’s shore from high above.

Designers: Maryna Dague Nathan Baraness

Very few things in nature have straight lines to the point that one famous architect was even quoted to associate curves with the divine. Even some natural things that one would think to be straight would have a few bumps and waves that make them look and feel more, well, natural. Despite their name, shorelines are, of course, never straight, and it’s that natural irregularity that this beautiful mirror uses to create a captivating visual inside any room.

The shape of the mirror defies definition. Despite its irregularity, there is nothing jarring or disconcerting about its lack of corners and straight lines. Just like water in its natural state, it seems to have no discernible pattern to its curves. And just like water, it causes our minds to associate the loose shape with feelings of calm and mellowness.

And then there’s the base, which is a solid block with sharp edges and a well-defined form. It contrasts with the mirror’s fluid form and is almost as if the mirror simply cut through a chunk of the base. Many shores look like this when viewed from the skies above, and it’s a reminder of how water can also be a destructive force, even when it’s slowly eroding stone and ground over time.

The “Lakes” collection of sculptural mirrors also includes other mirror shapes and sizes, some representing small ponds while others are like long gulfs. The bases can be made of different materials as well, from wood to metal to marble. One design even looks like a body of water to fit with the theme. No matter the shape or the material used, the Lakes mirrors successfully take a page from Mother Nature’s design book to create a piece of furniture that has a natural grandeur that instantly fills the room.

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These 3D printed clutch bags inspired by kelp look like treasures born of the sea

Humans have proven to be creative and imaginative creatures, producing ideas and designs that can blow minds and inspire spirits. Despite all our advancements and achievements, however, we still can’t hold a candle to Mother Nature’s designs. We can try to approximate those designs, though, or at least utilize naturally-occurring patterns to inspire our own works. These mini clutch bags, for example, are evidently inspired by organic patterns and structures, like something from underwater flora and fauna. Such designs are extremely difficult and expensive to produce using traditional methods. Ironically, it is more expensive and more wasteful if complicated designs like these are produced in small amounts. These kelp-inspired fashion accessories, however, are not only intricate but also sustainable, and they are made possible using yet another marvel of human ingenuity, the 3D printer.

Designer: Julia Koerner

3D printers are truly works of technological wonder that opened the floodgates of creativity for many people. Although it’s still not as fast and as ubiquitous as something like a Star Trek replicator, it has already paved the way for designs and products that would have been not only unfeasible but even impossible using traditional manufacturing techniques. More importantly, it has also given designers the opportunity to create and test different options that include sustainable materials and nature-inspired designs.

This Kelp Mini clutch is one such example of such possibilities turned into something tangible and marketable. The organic patterns are based on 3D scans of natural topologies from kelp collected from the Malibu coastline in California. The unique geometries not only give the clutch a certain natural charm but also make the bag a little bit more usable. The voids created by the patterns not only let you have a slight view of what’s inside the bag, it also makes it more lightweight.

Such a design would have been nearly impossible with normal manufacturing processes, especially given the material used to make the bag. Like all other products from the brand, the Kelp Mini is made from sustainable materials like bioplastics. All parts of the bag, including the hinge, closure clasp, and interior pocket, are 3D printed, making the clutch completely sustainable.

More than just an example of nature-inspired design, this small clutch is a demonstration of the potential 3D printing technologies. It allows not only the use of sustainable and unconventional materials but also allows more efficient and economical production of items that don’t rely on massive pipelines. You only print what you need or what has been ordered, reducing waste on all fronts. It even changes the very design process, allowing designers to make rapid changes and present the customer with a virtual version of the design, all before even a single part has been printed.

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This Bluetooth speaker and wireless charger is like a piece of sculptural art

Wireless speakers have been on the rise in the past few years, especially with the mass exodus of headphone jacks from smartphones. Because of that, manufacturers have started playing with different designs, going from traditional boxes to cylinders to all sorts of shapes and forms. In many cases, like smart home speakers, these audio devices have taken on more artistic forms, functioning both as tech equipment as well as room decor. Some even hide in plain sight as picture frames or sculptures. This wireless speaker concept is cut from the same cloth, providing a beautiful art piece that is both a Bluetooth speaker you can carry around as well as a wireless charging pad for your devices.

Designer: Jong Han Lee

Most portable speakers come in rectangular or cylindrical forms. These, after all, are the easiest to produce and the most convenient to put in any location. Ever since their popularity exploded, however, designers have started to go beyond the norm and explore different styles and aesthetics. Some are inspired by nature, while others try to pay homage to art movements of the past. All of these with the goal of creating a product that isn’t just functional but also pleasing to look at in any space.

DROPS, as its name would imply, is inspired by the gentle ripples created when something small falls on a larger body of water, represented by the concentric circles in the center of the base. Just like how the water eventually settles down and returns to its calm state, the rest of the base outside the ripples is flat and smooth. Coincidentally, this part of the base also functions as a wireless charger, so you can easily put your phone or earbuds down on it while playing some music.

The actual speaker itself is actually the tetrahedron that stands upside down on its top, representing an object falling into a pond. Like many wireless speakers these days, it uses some fabric material to cover its surfaces. The only parts that remain uncovered are the playback buttons on top, and the curved tip below that acts as the wireless charging contact point for the base. This would also be where strong magnets are located that keep the speaker from toppling over.

Yes, the speaker can actually be removed from the base if that wasn’t yet evident. This allows DROPS to be used anywhere at any time, though charging outdoors could prove to be difficult when the battery runs out. The loop on top is specifically designed to be easily hooked onto a carabiner or strap. It’s no larger than most portable speakers, though its actual audio output can’t really be guaranteed. Then again, there are speakers of this size that can produce decent quality sound, so that might not be that big of a problem.

The DROPS speaker and wireless charger concept isn’t exactly mind-blowing or game-changing in terms of innovation, but its distinctive design will definitely make it an eye-catching piece in any room. The use of a flat circular bed to both represent water and serve as a wireless charger is definitely genius. Its very design and reference to water produce an almost calming effect, making it an excellent centerpiece when listening to some soothing and relaxing tunes.

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This killer whale-inspired mouse concept wants to kill the friction of work

A few things in nature evoke a feeling of smoothness and flow, and, ironically as it might at first sound, the large orca is one of them.

Many people depend heavily on computers, which means also depending heavily on keyboards and mice. These critical input devices, however, are also often the biggest sources of frustration for many people, particularly when it comes to ergonomics, comfort, and usability. Fortunately, people have started to become more discerning about the designs of the products they buy, and designers have also become more critical about well-crafted objects. Some are even daring to think outside the box, using Mother Nature as the source of inspiration and direction for some of these unnatural things.

Designer: Arjun Vallabheshwar

Flowing water has always been a metaphor for smoothness and frictionless movement, even back in ancient times. Most of the creatures that live in it have naturally developed the ability to also swim smoothly through the water and have likewise become associated with ideas such as fluidity and even grace. That applies not just to small fishes but even to massive whales.

Next to dolphins, orcas are probably one of the most familiar mammals of the sea. They’re objects of fascination and even love, despite their more common name of “killer whale.” As designer Arjun Vallabheshwar notes, the orca combines both grace and power when it dashes to catch its prey, and the water has no choice but to make way for it.

Therefore, the orca felt like an almost natural source of inspiration for a mouse, especially considering how they share a similar basic shape and color scheme. An orca’s body evolved to be perfectly hydrodynamic, and this mouse concept adopts a similar form, with a pointed “snout” and a wider and higher back. The concept also includes what can be described as the whale’s fins, providing a structure where the thumb and the pinky can rest comfortably.

The design does make one wonder if the sloping top of the mouse is actually ergonomic since it could cause the user to raise their wrist higher than normal. Nonetheless, the mere form of the mouse already makes it look like it’s ready to glide through your day and, perhaps, even inspire a stress-free outlook to your work.

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