Design by Nature by Erica Tan


Design by Nature: Creating Layered, Lived-In Spaces by Erica Tanov is all about using the beauty of nature to influence and inspire your personal approach to design. What attracted me to this book was its minimalist cover and thick pages of stunning photography, by photographer Ngoc Minh Ngo. Just flipping through the pages at the library, I knew there was something special about this book and that I just had to take it home and examine it further.

The elements of nature explored in this book include: wood, water, dirt, weeds and decay. A case study on the life cycle of a print is also included. I was especially smitten with the sections on fabric inspired by tree bark, wood grains and tree rings.

In the introduction, Tanov talks about her life as a young artist interested in fabrics and design, and how making her own clothing, attending Parsons School of Design in New York, working in fashion and ultimately returning to her roots in California shaped her as a designer. There are a lot of personal notes mixed in with each chapter, as though Tanov is guiding the reader gently; she not only shares images of nature that inspired designs, but her thought processes that accompanied them and how they came to fruition.

“Whether it’s the crack in a sidewalk with a bit of life emerging, a crumbling stone wall, a reflective puddle after the rain, or a grove of redwoods, everyone has access to the beauty of the natural world. It’s the ability to see that beauty that’s important, and what you do with that beauty that makes you a creative person.” -Erica Tanov

If you have any interest in design, even just as a spectator who enjoys looking at nice things, this is a book for you!

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