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Artists borrowing from nature for contemporary design ideas

This year's design shows have featured eye-catching pieces by designers and artists who take elements from nature and give them glamorous makeovers.

There's lots of metallic paint, tweaked shapes and polished finishes. The resulting art and furniture pieces can be as stunning as the inspiration from which they're drawn.

Molly McCall uses old techniques to create contemporary art pieces in her Carmel Valley, Calif., studio. Images of plants and butterflies are captured with light and sensitized paper in a process known as photogrammetry. McCall transfers some of the photograms onto glass plates, fusing the layers with a glaze of crushed glass that results in a finished plate similar to milk glass.

"I try to look for new ways to see the world around me and then capture that moment," she said. The collection of prints, some on paper and others on metal, contains delicate, often ethereal imagery of wildflowers, grasses and even a hummingbird in mid-flight. ( mollymccall.com)

Welsh artist Michael Angove's prints of flowers and greenery are made using 3-D scanning techniques. His Wiltshire, England, studio sits in a garden full of ready inspiration.

A frothy hydrangea is visited by lime-white butterflies; plump roses cascade in rich tones of velvety red, china blue, or dovish pink and gray. His Topiary print was made by laying out 4,000 boxwood leaves in an intricate, damasklike pattern, to which Angove added tiny glittering beetles. The 3-D process creates a luxurious trompe l'oeil effect. ( michaelangove.com)

With a background in graphic design and fine art, Quebec-born Ysabel LeMay creates fantasy scenes using hundreds of images of flowers, trees, birds, insects and other natural elements, layering them in a process she calls "photo-fusion." She plays with scale so that an ibis appears to be taking nectar from a lily and a bunting is landing on an iris as big as an oak tree. There's an Alice in Wonderland vibe to the work that makes it striking wall art. ( ysabellemay.com)

At Z Gallerie, you'll find a menagerie of faux creatures cast in resin and finished with silver or gold. A herd of galloping horses; a slithering cobra; an octopus. There are also pretty, silvered-bamboo picture frames embellished with little beveled-mirror butterflies. Nickel-trimmed polished horn is crafted into the curvy Cheyenne accent table. The Antler side table's realistic legs are cast in heavy-duty aluminum then textured, just like the real thing. ( zgallerie.com)

Former accessories designer Jay Strongwater's collection at Horchow includes Nautilus shells, starfish and rabbits cast in metal then hand-enameled and set with dozens of Swarovski crystals. ( horchow.com)

If you're redoing a bathroom, consider adding an unexpected luxe element like one of French atelier THG Paris' solid-brass dolphin or swan-shaped spouts, available in different polished finishes. From the same source, a handle crafted from satiny Lalique crystal turns a starfish into bathroom jewelry. ( thgusa.com)

Corbett Lighting has the Fathom LED pendant fixture formed of dozens of crystal circles held together with white metal and stainless steel, evoking a stunning bubble full of bubbles. Here, too, is the Rockstar pendant, which incorporates slivers of striated golden-hued agate edged with gold leaf. ( corbettlighting.com)

Artists borrowing from nature for contemporary design ideas 07/11/14 [Last modified: Friday, July 11, 2014 5:43pm]

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