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Required Reading: ‘Design by Nature’ by Erica Tanov

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Required Reading: ‘Design by Nature’ by Erica Tanov

April 9, 2018

We’re longtime fans of Bay Area designer Erica Tanov at Remodelista; she’s been a vendor at our markets and we all have a few of her frocks in our wardrobes. Not to mention pieces from her home decor line; furry Alpaca Pillows, Embroidered Bedding, Lavender Candles (I even sent my daughter off to college with a pair of her Lovebird Pillow Cases).

In her just-released book, Design by Nature: Creating Layered, Lived-In Spaces (with chapters titled “Wood,” “Water,” “Dirt,” “Weeds,” and “Decay), Erica takes us on a tour of her creative process. “While I find inspiration everywhere,” Erica writes, “nature is my primary muse and the anchor for my creativity. I grew up in California, a place of extraordinary natural beauty, so nature has always been at the core of my inspiration and has influenced my aesthetic.

“My design process begins with observing my surroundings—a plant I see and draw can reemerge in a print—the dense colors of overlapping foliage can appear as a color scheme, the curling, folding edges of a leaf as a ruffled hem.”

Join us for a look at Erica’s own 1926 Mediterranean house in the Berkeley Hills, which serves as a showcase for her designs.

Photography by Ngoc Minh Ngo, courtesy of Erica Tanov.

In her Berkeley entryway, &#8
Above: In her Berkeley entryway, “The colors and tactility of the ornate embroidery and beading on this wool coat remind me of fertile earth bursting with new life,” Erica writes. “While I love wearing the coat, I get the most satisfaction by hanging it on the coatrack in our entryway for all to see.”
In a hallway, Erica &#8
Above: In a hallway, Erica “combines two Osborne and Little wallpaper patterns with a bright zigzag Boucherouite rag rug. A glimpse of the bold 1960s graphic floral fabric turned shower curtain adds to the cacophony of pattern and color,” she says. “To me, emulating weeds means mixing patterns, prints, colors, and textures in unexpected ways.”
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Above: Erica’s living room palette was inspired by “the beiges and browns of graying wood.”
Erica papered a wall in her bedroom in a &#8
Above: Erica papered a wall in her bedroom in a “hand-painted botanical chinoiserie scene on silver-leafed silk by De Gournay, featuring a garden of dogwood, tree peonies, exotic birds, and butterflies. The effect is breathtaking; I feel like a fairy living among kingfishers and butterflies in a garden of flowering trees.”
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Above: “The languorous quality of lichen hanging from trees reminds me of fringe of a wall hanging. It’s tangled hair-like nature provides the inspiration for my Shag Pillows made from alpaca yarn.”
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Above: Erica’s workspace overlooks her garden; “The trees I see out my window and the collected pieces of bark I find on my walks can lead to graphic and abstract iterations for clothing and textile prints,” she writes.
Design by Nature: Creating Layered, Lived-In Spaces, $
Above: Design by Nature: Creating Layered, Lived-In Spaces, $21.38 from Amazon.

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