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The Design Train blogs are a series of articles researched and written by Andrew Knapp for submission to various publications and sites. The articles cover a wide range of topics and can be adapted and edited for use in various styles of media application.

  • Writer's pictureAndrew Knapp

When Nature Inspires Furniture Design

Nature has proved inspirational in everything from literature to architecture and beyond. Of course, this is no big surprise, nature’s shapes are familiar to all of us and, as such, feel comfortable when used in the home. Table design is no exception to this rule and this month we’d like to share some of the nature-themed tables we have created over the years.

Image: Our Pebble Table Range – Inspired by nature

Today’s design ethic tends to lean heavily toward organic shapes. Whether by using the geometry found in nature or with the free-flowing forms of plants and flowers, these designs help us feel closer to nature and this trend seems set to continue for the foreseeable future.

Flower motifs are always popular and our Protea Side Table tips its hat to one of the most recognisable of South Africa’s floral icons. First introduced into our range in 2014, this table has been used effectively in homes and the hospitality sector throughout the years and can be manufactured to order. Further uses of the flower motif can be seen in our Flower Petal Table, based on the Flower-of-Life design in Sacred Geometry. This classic design brings visual harmony to the table and its setting.

The constant advancement in technology has allowed designers to incorporate elaborate designs into furniture pieces far easier than the craftsmen of the past could. There will always be a place and an appreciation of hand-carved detailing, but the time, cost, and decrease in the number of master-carvers necessitated a change in approach to furniture decoration.

Although plasma cutting was introduced in the 1950s, it was in the late 1980s when CNC (computer numerical control) technology was coupled to it that saw a new era of metal furniture design truly begin. Although early patterns were simple, more intricate designs were made possible with advances in this fast-developing field.

We took full advantage of CNC Plasma technology when creating this beautiful nature inspired bespoke table for a client.

Image: A Bespoke Dining Table with an perfectly executed intricate geometric floral motif Leonardo Design

It isn’t just the shapes in nature that inspire us, but also textures as is seen in our Organic Twig Side Table (below). The wood grain finish and detailing gives this beautiful décor piece a tactile appeal not often found in a table.

Image-The Organic Twig Side Table

Left Top: The strong design compliments it’s setting without dominating

Right Top: Close detail

Bottom: A forest of Organic Twigs awaiting delivery to a project

The plant kingdom isn’t the only area of nature’s bounty that we borrow from. An obvious and popular theme is the insect world, particularly the bee and the ever-stylish honeycomb pattern.

We have two ranges of coffee table tables and an interesting low console and matching tables that use the honeycomb design to great effect.

Image: The Honeycomb range

Image: The Stretched Honeycomb range

Image: The Loft Low Console and Coffee Table Variations

The seashore is also an inspiration to many and the shell shape has been used throughout history. Our Shell Table Range consists of two sizes of coffee table and a matching side table which are perfect for use in the home or corporate environment. We have used a simple shape which is more of a representation of the shell theme than a detailed replica, but we feel it captures the spirit of the ocean perfectly and is perfect in modern settings.

Image: Our Shell Table Range uses a simple representation of this classic design

The final example of how nature influences our tale designs shows in the aptly named Clover Coffee Table Nest. No prizes for guessing why we named it such! Here the Oak veneer table tops are finished in different hues and set on hairpin legs that give the set an air of lightness. Tray-edged detailing brings additional interest to an already interesting décor piece.

Image: The Clover Coffee Table Nest

The growing awareness of climate change and environmental impact is playing an increased role in how we live our lives. In this has grown a deeper respect for nature itself. With this in mind it seems obvious that organic shapes and designs are set to remain on-point for years to come. After all, in nature designers have an unlimited source of inspiration.

Please note that some of the tables featured in this article are no longer in our current range but can be made to order on request. Thank you for joining us on our nature ramble this month.

Yours in Style – Frank


This blog piece was researched and written by The Design Train for Leonardo - Tables by Design's monthly blog feature.

All images property of Leonardo - Tables by Design

Words © Andrew Knapp (Author)

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