Giraffes As a Design Motif
Zebra patterns were discussed here recently, so I thought we'd explore the Giraffe a bit today. When I thought of them as a motif years ago, I pictured the straight-off-the-Serengeti living rooms of the 80's, decorated with Africian masks, hide throws galore, and lifesize giraffes carved from wood, in deep reddish tones (like this). Some people still dig safari style and they have every right to enjoy it, but I was never a fan of the look. I'm just not big on themed rooms as a rule, and cringe at the thought of all those themed kitchens of the past complete with wallpaper borders, usually sporting a rooster or a hen. So when I think of bringing animals into a space, whether it's a cute owl or a graceful giraffe, less is really more. True, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and we all have our collections, but a word of caution here: avoid the dreaded theme park decor because it can go from sleek to cheap the more you pile it on.
Outside of the Serengeti, giraffes are a constant trend for the nursery, mostly in yellow or orange... And I dare to break my own rules here and say that for baby, you can go with a little theme if you wish, but again, proceed with caution. You want to make sure to keep that baby of yours happy, and this may sound snobby, but you also want the room to fit your home. I've been in places that had these ultra swank interiors, and immediately upon stepping into the nursery, you question what they were smoking when they designed the nursery.
As motifs go, you have the owls, turtles, trees, you name it -- they're all center stage at the moment. Even the little koi has his day. But what about the giraffe? Should this leggy beast be limited only to the safari look or a nursery? Or can we bring him out into the living room, dining area, even the kitchen? When I think of adding a little giraffe action to my home, I picture lighter, brighter colors, vintage wallpaper silhouettes, a playful pillow, and Jonathan Adler and his amazing lamp. Oh that lamp, what a charmer he is. Let's now look at it inside the home of a stylish twentysomething designer. Oh, Lena? Where are you?
Ah, here she is. Textile designer and illustrator Lena Corwin, successfully incorporates the giraffe lamp from Jonathan Adler into her largely mid-century modern flat in Brooklyn. Very grown up, this doesn't read 'safari' or 'nursery' at all. It reads hip and fun.
I love Lena's space, but that lamp adds an extra spark that completes the room for me. It's a bit of a quirky, unexpected touch that tells us that Lena has personality, she's a bit playful, doesn't take design too seriously, but also has exquisite taste to be able to mingle a giraffe lamp into a room with tree wallpaper, contemporary art, and mid century furnishings. But enough gushing about Lena. We don't want to make her uncomfortable. :)
Okay, maybe one more gush. Lena designed a travel plate with a giraffe on it that shows how well one can use this animal in an adult space. Unfortunately though, we don't see enough of the giraffe in adult rooms, and I think it's a shame because we're limiting this beautiful animal with the silhouette of a super model. And when we see the giraffe pattern used in decor or fashion, it's always in either deep brown and white or black and white.
Please designers of the world, let's allow the giraffe to mature a bit, while keeping him modern and playful. Let's show his pattern in chartreuse against a pale blue background for textiles, I'm thinking of this pattern from Judy Ross, only with a close-up view of the giraffe hide. Let's bring that Adler lamp into an adult space a little more, and for fashion, let's see the giraffe pattern in hot pink against white, turquoise, lime, for handbags, dresses, and the interior lining of luggage. C'mon -- let's turn up the dial and see what fun can result.
Joy by Mel Lim wrote to me last week about her newly expanded line of paper products that have actually grown into a collection of gift wrap, children's clothing, t-shirts, and pillows that I'm 100% in love with. Joy turned things up by using her imagination, seeing this leggy beast in a different way. She enjoys incorporating fish, ducks, and our tall friend in her designs, and I enjoy seeing it. Immensely.
Of course, seeing the giraffe on paper is never a bad thing. Especially when done right, like these Sweet cards from Elsewares, the personalized stationery, journal, and enclosure cards from Rock Scissor Paper, and cards from Five Fold Ink and Mini and Emma.
Next, you have these stretch canvas prints by Avalisa, again, more for the kids than the grown ups, but it's still pretty cute and I love all the colors that it's available in.
How cute is this mini print from Repro Depot shown in two colorways, giraffe mania! I can't see this working as pillows or curtains (eek!), well except again, in a child's room, but it is a terrific little print.
Tory Burch has giraffe bags in her latest collection (not shown), but these box totes from Neimans' are adorable. I'd put magazines in them and tote them around my house. This $4 giraffe business card holder, handmade by Etsy seller Mirkah is super cute for your handbag, I like the lemon yellow with the tiny white grapics.
Cute dress (imagine this print somewhere in the home, wow!), pillow, little juma, and glasses from Anthropologie. I really can't take my eyes off of that dress. The print is exactly what I'm picturing when I think of a more modern take on the giraffe.
Of course, it's back to the kiddies again with a slew of softies, but they are a bit hard to resist... Even for a grown up space. Dwell Baby pillows from Giggle are super cute (and huge) and another plush from Zid Zid Kids with a Moroccan edge.
Wallpaper giraffe silhouettes, available in a gadzillion patterns from Inke, really appeal to me. But I don't know if I'd use animal silhouettes like this in my childless abode, on a wall. Although strangly enough, I can see it in a kitchen somehow. Don't ask me, I just can. But of course, I have a very modern, white and light blue interior in mind, a space that reads very contemporary and cool. In the right pattern, this giraffe may rock it behind a bistro table with this capri genie pendant.
I think these Inke patterns would work in an adult space, they feel a bit more grown and polished to me.
Are you a fan of the giraffa camelopardalis? Do you have any in the home? What are your thoughts, hot or not?