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When Still Life Photography Meets Modern Design

So many still life artists and photographers, so little time… Have you been enjoying the still life explosion that’s cast its glow over the realms of art and design? Just when I think I have a grasp on the major players, I discover a new photographer with an amazing gift for capturing carefully arranged items. In fact, the still life phenomenon has become so popular, design studios and retailers are channeling its look and feel for photo shoots of their merchandise. I love this trend, because it brings still life style into an attainable realm, giving design enthusiasts a range of ideas on how to creatively display our favorite items. Here are a few of my favorite products and images:


Have you checked out the Off the Grid collection from Darkroom? This London-based store, online shop and design label delights in cutting-edge products, especially items that boast geometric flair, graphic contrasts and modern simplicity. This season it’s all about the grid:

Off the Grid collection by Darkroom

The still life-style photo above showcases a range of items that reinterpret ’80s design. Below we see the Tiler Cube Table, which is covered with glass mosaic tiles.

Darkroom’s Tiler Grid Table

Darkroom’s Off the Grid Cushions are rich in black and white tones, as well as bright pops of color in shades such as green, yellow and blue. The Green Triangle cushion is my favorite, both in terms of color and featured form:

Off the Grid Cushions via Darkroom

Although not pictured in the vignette at the top of this section, these Off the Grid plates celebrate the striking allure of interlocking lines and geometric forms in primary hues such as yellow. The plates are ceramic and embellished with acrylic paint:

Off the Grid plates from Darkroom

Darkroom’s offerings are a true reminder that repetition of motif and the use of primary colors (plus black and white) are a standout way to make a modern statement.

Ferm Living

I’m reveling in this season’s new arrivals from Ferm Living. In fact, I’ve previously featured the design studio’s offerings in this post, and their holiday collection breathes new life into seasonal decor! Known for their celebration of Scandinavian design and retro flair, Ferm Living is also admired for the way their products pop in beautifully photographed vignettes. Below we see the Large Neu Pitcher take center stage:

Design vignette from Ferm Living

Want a closer look at this stoneware pitcher? Next we see it pictured with the Neu Cup:

Neu stoneware from Ferm Living

The vignette at the top of this section also showcases the Smoked Oak Shelf with the Metal Shelf Hangers in white. The hangers are crafted of powder coated metal, and they are available in a variety of shades, including mint. These shelves are so beautifully designed, it’s best not to overwhelm them with clutter. A weathered pot and a metal vase will do the trick!

Metal Shelf Hangers in white

On the shelf in the image at the top of this section is also the Brass Cup, pictured below in another “still life chic” shot. As its name suggests, the cup is crafted from solid brass with a matte finish.

Geo vignette from Ferm Living

The image above shows us that a combination of striking forms and sleek materials can create the equivalent of an art installation in your own home. Especially when details such as two-toned surfacetops are involved. Curious about the posters on display? Let’s take a closer look… First we have Geometry Poster 4, which is printed on 150 gr. uncoated recycled paper:

Geometry Poster 4 from Ferm Living

Pair it with Geometry Poster 2 for double the geo fun:

Geometry Poster 2 from Ferm Living

In addition to the Brass Cup, Ferm Living offers an array of brass accessories that prove this once-outdated material is undeniably modern and sleek. These Hexagon Pots are perfect for holding flowers, plants and small items:

Brass hexagon pots from Ferm Living

The product photography of Ferm Living reminds us that it doesn’t take a shelf full of items to make a big statement. Sometimes less is more, especially when the items are beautifully crafted and arranged.

Fort Standard

Decoist has recently featured the work of Fort Standard in a design studio profile, and it’s easy to see why. The materials themselves take center stage in Fort Standard products, which include furniture, lighting and a range of accessories. I’m a big fan of the Trivets! Geo forms cut from stone have never been so design-fabulous. Add the fact that the backs are covered in leather to prevent surface scratching, and you have true works of art. Below we see a vignette featuring trivets crafted from Carrara marble:

Stacked marble trivets in a still life vignette

Here are some trianglular trivets in Red, showcased in an image that proves repetition is a powerful thing. In addition to the triangle, Fort Standard’s red trivets are available in hexagon and nonagon forms:

Red triangular marble trivets

Light and shadow help create a stunning arrangement in this next featured image. In addition to the Carrara marble trivets mentioned above, we see a pair of Silver Fleck-variety trivets:

Light and shadow in an array of marble trivets

Don’t forget the elegance of deep green. Sometimes all you need for a striking still life vignette is a variation on the same materials. The veining in the marble adds the perfect dose of intricacy as a triangular Forest trivet stands out against a neutral backdrop:

An array of marble trivets from Fort Standard

I make a point of decorating with marble tiles on a regular basis. You can’t serve food on them (if they come from the flooring store, which is where I get them), but they are truly bold when stacked or leaned against shelving. Food-safe marble pieces like the ones above are truly special, don’t you think?!

Eric Trine

I’ll end today’s post with a few offerings from Eric Trine, a studio artist and designer with a flair for the modern. His products are photographed with great care–the whimsical use of color and form reminds us to be intentionally playful when it comes to displaying items in our own homes. Below we see the Rod & Weave Chair with a copper-plated frame. The woven seat and back are crafted from natural vegetable oil-tanned leather.

Copper and leather chair from Eric Trine

Trine’s Small Octahedron is made from powder coated steel. The perfect objet d’art for a bookshelf or coffee table, this piece is obviously quite fun when purchased in multiples. Sculptural style at its geo finest!

Octahedron decorative objects from Eric Trine

The Octahedron Burner Bowl is described as “a thing to put things on” While I don’t burn incense, I do eat donuts. On a regular basis! I just might have to add this piece to my collection. Not a fan of donuts? Don’t worry–you can display candles, air plants and produce on this bowl as well. Once again, the magic of powder coated steel is abundantly clear:

Octahedron bowl in pastel hues from Eric Trine

I hope today’s post has left you with tons of inspiration. Not only do the featured items celebrate still life style to the fullest, the photos remind us that when it comes to colorful modern design, it’s not just about what you purchase–it’s how you display it!

Kate Simmons

Kate Simmons is a freelance writer and design blogger with a love of all things decor. She spent her childhood writing stories and working on interior design-themed DIY projects. Kate’s published writing reflects her special interest in how design has changed through the decades. Her blog Mirror80 ( http://mirror80.com/) explores the fashion and [...]

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