Home is the starting place of love, hope and dreams.
There is perhaps no other word more comforting than ‘home’. A place be it big or small, that we can call our own. The place that is a relief to get back to after a long day. The place where we eat, spend time with family, invite friends over, or cuddle up to a beloved pet that has been patiently waiting on our return all day. Our own personal haven. We can often find help, advice and love there. Home is our base, it’s where we gather our thoughts together and decide what to do next.
The way that we choose to decorate our homes is a very individual choice. It is one of the few places in the world we have complete control over. Where we can openly express our creativity without fear of judgement, revel in the colour palate of the walls and curtains, the choice of furniture, the oh so specific arrangement of the plants. Rejoice in the carefully chosen pieces of art that give us the same feeling of satisfaction every time we glance over at them. Ultimately, one’s home is the centre of our creative universe. Those who are creatives among us, will know that creativity is one of the most powerful forces in the world. It can make the minds of people whose worlds have become grey and dark, colourful and bright again. To surround oneself with designs and creations that ignite our happiness, remind us of our personal charisma, personality and ensure a complete sense of peace, is surely an essential lifestyle choice for everyone?
It is this practice of creating and decorating one’s home that is explored in the book, Bohemian Living: Creative Homes Around The World, by Robyn Lea. In this book, to indulge in decorating one’s home is more than just a hobby, it is a way of life.
For Milan born designer, Barnaba Fornasetti, his home is absolutely essential.
‘My home is a protective oasis in perpetual transformation. It represents my life: my job, my interests and my philosophy – all entwined. All these elements merge into my habitat, which is my dress, my skin, my instrument of communication and sustenance.’
In his early years, Barnaba moved away from his childhood home, Casa Fornasetti, to go on to design fabrics for fashion designer Ken Scott, work on a music magazine and restore ancient farmhouses in Tuscany. After several years of widening his creative experience in these fields, he moved back to his beloved home where he would start work on one of his greatest project yet: reinventing his home to fuel his life and career as a creative.
Barnaba’s parents had a deep impact on his creative design choices for Casa Fornasetti. Both from traditional Milanese families, they rebelled and pursued lives in art and design. Their home reflected this decision and their choice to live their lives around pursuing creative expression. After inheriting his childhood home after his father’s death, Barnaba began to alter the interiors of the home, but continued the creative exploration his parents had started. Each room is painted a different colour, so it has a personality and emotional atmosphere. The sitting room is emerald-green and contains twenty-two mirrors each one with varying frames and shapes. Many of the mirrors have a story, and the majority are covered in shells.
The music room on the second floor is olive-leaf coloured. A room that echo’s Barnarba’s childhood with cut outs of cars from magazines and posters of the Beatles embellishing the walls. This room is a playful space, with an inviting energy. Full of familiarities. It reflects generations of Fornasetti’s and their love of music and theatre. One of the most noticeable features being a rug he designed in 2007, detailing all four seasons, covering the majority of the floor and warming the room up with its vibrant colours and radiant depictions of tree’s in full bloom.
Barnaba has a particular colour of choice for the guest bedroom and all its furnishings: the furniture, the walls, the toiletries, the bed. Every item exploding with vibrant red. Probably the most interesting detail of the room is the bookshelf and its collection of 300 books, all with the word ‘red’ in their title. Every inch of the room makes the senses pulsate, and it is clear that its creation was intended to evoke an emotional reaction out of any individual who enters it.
Barnaba has created a home that not only allows him to find connections and inspiration, but he seems to have created his own fantasy land, where others can be inspired, confused, bewildered, intrigued, excited or have any other relative reaction. Whatever reaction his home may make people feel, whether it be positive or negative, it has the power to inspire new ideas.
Rebecca Rebouche is a contemporary folk artist living in a one-bedroom loft, in a converted sewing factory from the 1920’s, in New Oreans near the Mississippi River. The building itself was established for working houses by the government after Hurricane Katrina.
Rebecca describes her home as, ‘a refuge that is kind of private. It’s a little cabin, a sanctuary that is all mine – like a ship where I eat and sleep between other adventures.’
This artist often compares her home to a ship. Like a ship, it never stands still, is always taking her to new places, and is always on a journey to new things. Although she sees the metaphor of a ship as mostly positive, it also reflects her times of sadness:
‘It was like a ship I was sailing through the forest. It became a vessel for my solitude.’
Rebecca harnesses her creative interest in the elements and nature by painting. She has expressed a particular connection to water, and the majority of her work illustrates aquatic and water related imagery:
‘Water comes from the sky and the weather, so affects our moods. It’s in our tears and it’s in our bodies. I think it’s a great metaphor, not only for impermanence, but for all of the things that we don’t know – for the unconscious, for movement and fluidity.’
Rebecca’s uses a water and nature theme to decorate her apartment and express her creativity in more than one way. The activity of embellishing her home is one of the most important activities to her. She takes joy in adorning a room with self-designed rugs, murals, paintings and quilts. Her personal belief, is that the decoration of our homes is actually another way of crafting the set and scenery of our life and character. Quilts, are a focal point of creativity for Rebecca which was ignited in her childhood. As a child, Rebecca would play underneath a quilting frame and listen to other women’s stories while watching them create patterns from fabric from flour sacks. Today, she creates her own quilts which feature decoratively around her home to brighten up her world with emotive colours and patterns.
For Rebecca, her bedroom is a space to be decorated with special consideration. Understanding that sleep, relaxation and the ability to completely switch off is a rare find for many people, she has created an environment that is designed to protect the state of sleep. She has stripped it back of all decoration to create a plainer, simpler sanctuary. A room with no distractions, artwork or visual stimuli to awaken the brain.
‘I struggle with sleep, so now when it is time to go to bed, there is somewhere to rest where there is peace, and there isn’t anything begging to be resolved or thought about.’
Above the bed hangs a simple canopy of white muslin, which evokes the feeling of being inside a cocoon. The walls, covered in a matt black colour to create a restful, cave-like environment, tucked away from the rest of the world.
In this artist’s world, she lives surrounded by the peace of the flowing Mississippi River. And like the river, her creativity and creations flow freely throughout her home. Her habitat is filled with settings that fuel her imagination and artistry, with select spaces she has created to allow herself to completely switch off and enter her own state of peace.
Sydney born Joshua Yeldham finds sanctuary in channelling his creative energy towards his home. After enduring a painful and emotionally stressful childhood being bullied and tormented at boarding school, Joshua found his inner peace after moving to Aiglon College in Switzerland. Here, Joshua was educated in conjunction with nature, and slowly he learned to heal through stargazing assignments, regular mountain expeditions and weekly school meditations. This was the start of Joshua’s freedom emotionally and creatively, as his love of music, drawing and design was heavily encouraged. He began to understand that his interest for the elements of nature such as animals, trees, snow and ice could be constructed into creating beautiful things. He started to learn he could constructively use the negative emotions surrounding his past, to create a positive, creative future:
‘I’m not going to become bitter, I’m going to become expansive. I’m going to be patient and grow at a solid pace, like a fig tree – just build my trunk, so that even with rejection, I still have my core stability.’
After graduating from university, his trips around the world furthered his creative terrain. On many of his trips he slept outdoors, customising himself to the outdoors and expanding his idea of a natural habitat for himself:
‘My greatest challenge was to build a bridge between myself and the landscape.’
Once he had built this bridge between himself and nature, the bond was unbreakable, as he found an emotional and spiritual connection that he could carry with him in all his endeavours. The lives of animals which he had studied closely became a key theme in his artistry, as he listened closely to the way they communicate with other another, their behaviours and ecosystems. Snakes appear often in his paintings that he uses to decorate his home, a symbol he has used to represent his growth as a person, his own shedding of skin to regenerate and start anew.
An owl has also been a key symbol for Joshua and regularly appears in his art. It represents a beacon of hope for Joshua and his wife, as they longed for a child they thought they could not have. He also started creating paintings where musical instruments were vividly incorporated, as an ‘offering to nature’, and a musical connection to a spiritual beginning of new life. As Joshua had hoped, they were granted a child in 2003. The symbol of the owl would go on to be a companion to Joshua, as he would take a carving or painting of the creature to keep him company while going out alone on his boat for a week.
‘My great owl sits up high and sees the land and knows the rustle of all creatures through their alphabet of noise.’
Joshua and his wife Jo have created their home as a place where creativity is allowed to flow freely through their house, boat and studio. Their children have been brought up in a household where nature is a key part of their communication to one another. ‘They are fluid in the language of nature’. Trees, rocks, animals and insects are talked about with affection and familiarity. Joshua also teaches his children the importance of finding a moment of stillness in the day, a place in the house where they can be truly quiet and find inner peace away from an often frightening, stressful world.
Joshua’s love for art and nature is not only his comfort, but it is also his saviour. He has used it to combat his past, his demons, his infertility, and created a life of true where true happiness, creativity and tranquillity can be a state in which his family lives every day.
Bohemian Living: Creative Homes Around The World is available here. Elizabeth Greatrex