Extreme heat, few resources, sparse vegetation – typical desert landscapes spark the imagination of only a very few people. But from the natural topography of the desert comes a fascinating wealth of inspiration, continually creating new trends in the worlds of colour and form. And the desert style also offers some subtle nuances that can bring distant worlds into your own four walls.
Sin and magic
In the Old Testament, a goat was symbolically made the bearer of all sins and chased out into the desert – and it’s from this that we get the word ‘scapegoat’. The desert was seen as a place of punishment and anyone cast out into the desert would probably never be seen again. However, despite their often negative associations, desert landscapes also radiate a certain magic. For instance, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry has his Little Prince say poetically: “I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams …”
The colours of the desert shimmer differently depending on the position of the sun and create incredibly magical moments. Over recent years, innovators in interior design have made use of these effects. Yellow, ochre, camel, beige, gold and orange radiate warmth and give rooms a soft glow. They are unobtrusive and have a gentle and calming effect – and work even more intensely in combination with curves, which are inescapably reminiscent of the vast sand dunes in desert landscapes.
Almost best friends
The desert style is also undemanding when it comes to combining with furniture and accessories from other interior worlds. Thanks to its calm, unobtrusive aesthetic, it integrates effortlessly into existing interior environments and places virtually no limits on visual combinations. Inspiration from such arid landscapes can be used successfully to make a contrasting break with classic design and add something new: Organic shapes and delicate earth tones soften even the hardest edges and opulent marble finishes.
One of the typical characteristics of a desert is that there isn’t something new to discover every few yards. Instead, the endless expanses seem like a homogeneous unit that are occasionally enlivened by other natural wonders, such as ancient rocks or miraculous oases. Individual accents of this sort can also be conjured up wonderfully in modern interior landscapes with the use of desert style accessories. A touch of exotic flair can be added to any interior design with, for example, a Berber-style pouf, functional accessories with metal ornaments, pottery bowls or fragrance lamps.
What’s more, the desert style possesses a natural asset these days when virtually every manufacturer needs to consider the issue of sustainability. It often combines handmade and natural materials into a harmonious whole: wood, earth, sand, stone, leather, succulent plants such as agaves, cacti and aloes … the natural ingredients of the desert style are many and varied, and are ideal for weaving, braiding, knotting, carving or simply looking at.
A pleasant atmosphere can also be created with accessories that only hint at the natural features of a desert landscape. For example, the Camel Nomad throw by Belgian manufacturer Ethnicraft with its sand colours reminds us of the largest and probably most famous desert in the world, the Sahara. And notebooks made from cork and tablet sleeves with desert motifs lend a touch of the exotic to our everyday working life.
The fashion industry, too, has now been captivated by the natural spectacle of desert landscapes. The earthy tones, delicate colour nuances and flowing silhouettes have one unbeatable quality – they flatter the wearer, whatever their body shape or skin tone. Major fashion houses such as Christian Dior were the first to set the trend, followed by labels like Croon and Gemini with smart desert style accessories for men and women.
The inhabitants of the deserts – the nomads – represent a very specific lifestyle. They do not have permanent settlements, but keep moving to where they can find water and food for their animals. What for the nomads are the unalterable rules of nature, seem to many people from Western cultures like the epitome of freedom. They like the concept of reducing human needs to the bare essentials and being able to satisfy them practically anywhere in harmony with nature. In times when people are looking for deceleration, the qualities of tranquillity, spaciousness and evenings under a starry sky are more sought-after than ever. No wonder then that safaris and desert camps on the African continent are very much in vogue.
The French manufacturer Solar Brother was inspired by the free way of life of the nomads: “Cook wherever you want: city, campsite, beach, forest, balcony or in the garden” is how the inventors describe their 950 gram Sungood solar cooker, which can be folded up and fits into almost any bag.
And if your interior desert style creates too much wanderlust, a search for desert landscapes on an Emform standing globe may well take your mind off that longing for faraway places. After all, deserts cover about a fifth of the entire surface of the earth – that’s almost 30 million square kilometres. Or you could treat yourself to a relaxing break in a Descotis hammock. Simply close your eyes and, like the Little Prince, imagine something gleaming through the silence.
Title: Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp in Namibia/Wilderness Safaris