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Design: The Embodiment of Nature

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

Nature in the raw is breathtaking. It’s so encapsulating with its bone-chilling creeks that bubble over radiant mosses, mountains that twist up to the vast endless sky, and sounds that fill the human ear with teeming and chipper life.

Lee Riddell, an oil and watercolor artist and former National Park Natural History Association book designer, sees nature as not only the breadth of life but the source of so many other facets of life.

“[Nature] is everything. It’s the source of everything. It’s not just beautiful mountains. It's human nature, it's the outdoor world, it’s athletics, it’s adventure. Nature is about systems working together and adapting when needed. People, animals, trees, soil, water and air are all interdependent.”

In the past Lee worked for a publisher out of New York and designed two books for Tom Mangelsen, a wildlife photographer in Jackson Hole. “Images of Nature” celebrated his photos of wildlife from all over the world and Polar Dance” featured polar bears. She also designed a book for an underwater photographer. Even today, she expresses her fascination of nature through her paintings.

According to a quote pulled from her website, “My paintings are celebrations of the design in nature. They are like me, quiet, simple, and full of love.”

The Earth is something humankind has had in common since man first walked on the soil. Although it has evolved with time, nature has consistently struck awe in many, causing people, specifically artists, to try and capture this vast and beautiful giant around us.

Ed Riddell, Lee’s husband and former business partner at Riddell Advertising & Design, can’t imagine a society without the incorporation of nature within art. Growing up, Ed aspired to be the next Ansel Adams, arguably the most influential landscape artist of the 20th century.

“When I was twelve years old I joined the Sierra Club and I went on all of their outings. And I just loved the outdoors. Ansel Adams was on the board of directors of the Sierra Club,” Ed said.

Ansel did a lot of books for the club filled with his photography and Ed was also fortunate enough to take a photography seminar with Ansel Adams when he was in college at Stanford.

“When I moved to Jackson Hole, I wanted to be the Ansel Adams of Jackson Hole,” Ed said.

Ed’s work embodies nature, from macro shots of flowers and blades of grass to the alluring landscape inspired by Ansel himself.

Lee and Ed are not the only artists enthralled with nature. Ancient history tells an interconnected story of creativity and the natural world.

“Look at the history of art. Nature has always been probably the greatest influence on art. I mean look at the cave paintings. They are about the animals and the hunt and the environment. Look at impressionism. Look at the Renaissance paintings,” Ed said.

When speaking of the Renaissance, Ed motioned towards the window of their house up in Italy, pointing out the same landscape in the painting of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci. Nature, a simple and delicate but vital backdrop of the whimsical figure in the foreground.

Nature in itself is art. To capture it is the essence of good design. buonaforma’s ceramics are inspired by and representative of the natural beauty around us.

“One of the things I love about what Peter is creating, is that the forms are very natural, very sculptural, and very organic,” Ed said.

Peter Frank’s buonaforma vision captures the natural beauty we see every day in a unique and timeless way.

“Much of my design process stems simply from being aware of the natural world around me. As someone who is hypersensitive to my environment, the nuance of organic, elegant shapes formed in nature subconsciously influences my design style and inspiration,” Peter said.

“The buonaforma Founders Series is a trio of elegant porcelain vases inspired by the beauty of the natural world around us.

Encapsulating the beauty and raw magnitude of the sun rising, Dawn signifies the new beginnings offered with each and every day.

Influenced by the powerful, fluid, and ever-evolving shape of the ocean, Morph represents the continuity of change and persisting flow of everyday life.

Symbolic of the intensity, chaos, and energy that radiates from the spark of a new flame, Ignite symbolizes the burning passion we have to bring beauty to everyday life and better the world we live in through remarkable, and meaningful design.”

In their home in Italy, Ed and Lee have an Ignite Vase in the glaze Merlot and Ivory.

“Here is a fresh branch off of a fruit tree in our yard. Look at how well that works together. This is such a bonsai look,” Ed said.

In Ed’s opinion, the fruit tree clipping and the vase itself inspire each other, reflecting and embodying one another's elegance.

“They talk to each other.”

The notion of the earth speaking to us is not just evident in the designs and art we incorporate into our lives, but the pure sound of the wind rustling the pine boughs of the looming trees in Jackson to the sound of a pear breaking free of its branch across the sea in Italy.

Photos and art credit of Ed and Lee Riddell.

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