• 06.14.12

Furniture Line Recreates Nature Using Unnatural Means

Light filtering through trees. The shadows of passing clouds. One architect is using high-tech synthetics to evoke the passing sensations of the natural world.

Noé Duchaufour Lawrance doesn’t want you to see nature in his work. He wants you to feel it. This week at Design Miami/Basel, the architect will introduce Naturoscopie, a collection of furniture that attempts to recreate the sensations associated with nature in a controlled environment.


The idea behind Naturoscopie isn’t to represent nature through an image. Instead of painting a landscape or photographing the sky, Duchaufour Lawrance has built series of machines that abstract the natural world–a sunset or a cloudy sky, for example–using high-tech materials and programmed electronics.

Duchaufour Lawrance explains that he wanted the work to go “beyond a literal transcription of nature.” A carbon-fiber light fixture, for example, affects sun filtering through a tree canopy with tiny mosaics of colored mirror and LEDs. A smoky plexiglass coffee table becomes the projection screen for a distorted, fuzzy photograph of the northern lights. A desk lamp made of white honeycomb plastic and shimmering LEDs casts shadows that mimic those of a passing cloud. The pieces are all synthetic, made from carbon fiber, plexiglass, and polyamid–which amplifies the strangeness of it all.

Artificial nature is not a particularly new idea, which is why it’s interesting to see it re-hashed through the lens of furniture design. Countless sci-fi books and films imagine deep-space travel scenarios, where sensory chambers reproduce the feeling of sun filtering through trees, or the smell of grass, to nature-starved astronauts. But the idea that we want to recreate memories of the natural world on our coffee tables and mirrors, while we’re still here on a functioning planet, is almost stranger than fiction.

[Images courtesy of Galerie BSL; Naturoscopie will be on view in Miami until June 17th. ]

About the author

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan is Co.Design's deputy editor.