Walk into The Jungle Bar of the newly revamped Annabel’s and you step into a three-dimensional incarnation of Johann Wenzel Peter’s Adam and Eve in Paradise. The original focuses on the idyllic scene just before Eve bites from that fateful apple, but designer Martin Brudnizki’s version is unapologetically focused on the temptation, seduction and revelry that followed. Heavily decorated with backlit panels of exotic verre églomisé depicting jungle flora and fauna by Paul Clifford, faux‑tortoiseshell wallcoverings, a swirling bird-motif carpet and a riot of animal-print upholstery, this is as hearty an endorsement of maximalism as one is likely to get – and encapsulates an aesthetic that is a growing trend in homes.
De Gournay, which created several of the hand-painted wallcoverings used in the club, is prime hunting ground for those keen on bringing the beauty of the outdoors into their home. Founder Claud Cecil Gurney and his daughter Hannah live and breathe their work, and both own London residences that are masterclasses in how to create a refined interior filled with blossom and beasts – each room a journey of discovery through different worlds.
Fromental is another trove of hand-painted silk wallcoverings (from £515 per sq m), from Carp & Moon inspired by Chinese painted scrolls to Hirondelles, a recent collaboration with Lalique featuring a chinoiserie print designed with open spaces where the French crystal house’s sculptures of gold-lustre dahlias and swallows (£590 each) can be attached – held in place by discreet magnets. Creative director Tim Butcher cites the 19th-century Aesthetic Movement as a previous example of maximalism at its best. “Layering with colour and pattern need not be shocking or jarring – done well, it can be harmonious. That is what we can learn from nature,” he says. He is particularly proud of the vivid colours of Bruyère (from £970 per sq m), which pays homage to the renowned French tapestry-designer Jean Lurçat: “He celebrated natural forms but rendered in his own style – it’s about the essence of the object rather than a direct replica of it.” Butcher believes that surrounding oneself with beautiful wallpapers and textiles creates much more than a well-decorated home. “We aim to create the same surge of happiness and joy that you might find if you were walking in a botanical garden,” he says.
Artist Jacky Puzey combines traditional embroidery skills with digital technology to create bespoke furniture and artworks in a variety of materials, including velvet, silk, fur, feathers, tweed and organza. She delights in the collision of the natural and manmade – urban foxes and the parakeets of London inhabit her designs, as do the leopards of Mumbai. “I love tracing the symbolism of animal and flower motifs across cultures – such as the fact that koi carp were once kept in Japanese villages to keep the waterways clean, as well as being highly ornamental,” she says. The fish feature in her current collection of footstools (from £5,100) and embroidered silk wallpaper (£480 per m), alongside the Hare screen (£10,800) and the Dandy Parakeets cocktail chair (£6,800), adorned with real feathers. Puzey’s work brings drama and accents of popping colour to a room. “It’s also a conversation piece in its own right – people love to stroke the different textures and discover the stories behind it,” she says. “Again, koi have a long history of being protective motifs – they appear on Hanten jackets worn by firemen in the Meiji and early Taisho periods, which would have been soaked in water to keep the men safe as they put out fires.”
Christopher Cox, co-founder of Cox London with his wife Nicola, has long been a believer in ars simia naturae – the idea that art imitates nature. Their collection includes a series of bronze and gilt Serpent tables (from £6,960), including one specified for Chatsworth House. This year, they are moving more towards flora with the Magma chandelier (£63,360 each, edition of 10), informed by ancient root vines, and the Golden Oak chandelier (£18,792), which continues the-oak leaf series they began 10 years ago. Every piece is evolved using the ancient process of lost-wax bronze casting, with inspiration often coming from archival documents. “We love drawings and sculpture with a naïve quality, often conveying that the artist had never come face to face with the creatures depicted – for us, this stylisation is so much more interesting than direct representation,” says Cox, highlighting why he believes such pieces add a particular layer of interest to an interior.
Italian marble-specialist Citco has worked with names such as Zaha Hadid, Stefano Bigi, Arik Levy, Norman Foster and Daniel Libeskind since 2006 to showcase what can be done with the material beyond its usual application, but it is Ferruccio Laviani who has been responsible for the creative vision behind the Citco Privé division, last year launching a jungle-inspired series of furniture at the Milan Salone. This included the Malawi sideboard with a herd of zebra in fluid lines of black and white marble (£49,400); the Gibuti cabinet portraying a nocturnal jungle scene with bas-relief leopards, all carved in a variety of coloured marbles (£43,800); and the Samia wallcovering (£163,900) showing a tropical forest, again constructed with combinations of stone. Citco’s CEO Camiran Rasool loves the life and warmth such pieces bring to an interior. “Marble is not like plastic – it is a living material that changes subtly over the years. I love the fact that you see something new each time you look at these works – each design transmits its own energy into a space.”
Koket has also dipped into the natural world with pieces such as the highly lacquered Spellbound cabinet (€22,730), the Camilia armoire with its monumental, hand-carved peacock (€25,404) and the polished-brass Serpentine mirror (€6,396). All are strong design statements. “They are intended to bring glamour, sophistication and beauty to the spaces in which they are placed,” says founder Janet Morais. “We love using beautiful materials with lavish finishes such as brass, copper and gold but also real feathers, mother-of-pearl, agate, crystal, lacquer and mirror.”
Nature has long sparked creativity among lighting designers and firmly informs the fabulously organic creations of Serip. Head designer Ilda Pires says that the company’s passion for natural form gives it a unique point of view in today’s mass-production market. “Industrial and mechanical processes lead to symmetry and monotony,” she says. “We respond with concepts such as difference, unevenness, uniqueness and contrast – all of which are powerful, distinguishing elements of nature.” Many of the brand’s pieces reference the circular or spiral forms found in nature, such as the Coral series (bronze and glass light, price on request), echoing the beauty and complexity of coral-reef shapes, and the Folio edition, which takes its design cues from the fall of maple leaves in autumn (price on request). For Pires, the aim is that “a person can feel absorbed by nature”, and the bespoke nature of its work allows clients to order entire installations that cover ceilings and walls if they so wish.
For those looking for accessories with bravado, the natural world permeates here too. From Hermès comes Tigre en Miroir, a printed cashmere blanket (£3,330) designed by Anne-Margot Ramstein that brings a touch of Rousseau to a room; while the Ostrich Feather lamp (from £1,900) from Aynhoe Park’s A Modern Grand Tour collection features an illuminated palm tree with exuberant feather foliage. James Perkins, owner and creative director of the Georgian mansion, who has added interior design to its offering of private parties and events, loves the Hollywood Regency glamour of the piece. “It perfectly summarises an Aynhoe Park interior – vintage but injected with colour and wit,” he says. Taylor Howes’ inaugural Love At Dusk collection also evokes whimsy in the form of an embroidered and beaded Night Owl cushion (£2,520), inspired by a 1920s Chanel handbag with a similar animal motif and created in collaboration with couture house Maison Lesage. “It represents the magical, ethereal time when day slowly seeps into night,” says CEO Karen Howes. “Each cushion is hand-stitched with gold thread and every crystal bead is placed by hand.”
The sculptural creations of José Granell are part furniture, part artwork, but always a talking point. Having worked in film creating fantastic models for Harry Potter, Batman and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, among others, he turned his attention to creating representations of animals that make surprisingly comfortable seats. Each is sculpted by hand by Granell before being cast, with Icelandic fleeces tailored to the finished form (from £3,800 for a sheep to £8,780-plus for a camel, edition of 50 for each type). “Mankind is hardwired to respond to nature’s forms,” he says. “The fun is bringing these creatures out of the wild and into unexpected settings.”
The plight of the planet is also firing the imagination of designers. Take Rajeeta and Rolly Gupta, the sisters behind Raro London, whose exquisitely conceived furniture and accessories are made in their Delhi atelier from materials such as hardwoods, leathers, gold, silver and semiprecious stones. The Alghero table (£540,000, edition of six), with its base of ethically sourced coral supporting a Brazilian quartz top, is designed to remind us of the fragility of nature and our responsibility to preserve it. “It has taken five years to collect the Sardinian coral [where harvesting is sustainably managed and regulated by regional laws] for this edition because sustainability is so important to us,” says Rolly Gupta. “We wanted to create an important legacy piece that is both aesthetically powerful and reminds us of the vulnerability of life below the waves.”
It is a sentiment that jeweller Patrick Mavros would endorse. For 40 years, he has been sculpting the fauna and flora of the Zimbabwean landscape (where his family has lived for generations), using the lost-wax-process to cast them in silver and reimagine them as jewellery, ornaments and table centrepieces – now collected by connoisseurs of his work around the world, including royalty. A signature Mavros piece might be a glittering Fari tree centrepiece (from £10,800) with a herd of giraffes (from £1,300) walking towards it through the sauce dishes and cruet sets, each one depicting an individual animal that Mavros has seen and studied. “Imagine children at the dining table being subjected to the drone of adult voices when suddenly they find themselves at the same eye level as a baby giraffe – that is a moment of magic and of theatre,” he says.
Mavros’s ambition has always been to bring the same excitement into the dining room that he finds at the watering hole, but he also sees his work as a way of educating people about the need for conservation and a respect for nature. “I grew up with fantastic stories passed on to me from the African oral tradition, where each animal had its own story and place within culture,” he says. “I ask myself, what can I do to help combat pollution and encourage conservation awareness? Well, I can throw the spotlight on the valley outside my own door – and I can encourage conversations to start around dining tables where family and friends are gathered.”