Remember the paper chains and snowflakes you snipped out diligently during kindergarten with safety scissors? Now imagine those infinitely more intricate and hand crafted by an army of Dutch woodland nymphs and fairies.
That’s the work of Tord Boontje.
His beautifully-etched works make the even the most advanced pop-up books look like they were cut out by left-handed monkeys with right-handed scissors. Take the drool-inducing Garland Light — delicate flowery strands surrounding a light bulb that are included in the permanent collection of MoMA and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, thanks to their ability to transport you straight to some patch of heavenly forest untouched by human hands.
He’s like the design equivalent of that wardrobe in the Narnia books.
The Netherlands-born and London-dwelling designer has tried his delicate sensibilities at everything from his tranSglass series of recycled green bottles to bewitching chairs swathed in scraps of leather. Boontje infuses nature into each of his designs, whether via materials or organic shapes, but his most recognizable and adored pieces are the etched metal creations that put his natural leanings on full display. Curtains and lights that weave foxes, leaves, deer and other wilderness ilk together in creations that seem to have wandered off of a reserve.
Boontje garnered praise for his earlier work, but he entered the Elle Décor level of hype when he cranked out his Blossom Chandelier. Boontje debuted the pink crystal flora-inspired creation at an exhibit sponsored by Swarovski at the Milan Furniture Fair in spring of 2002. Everyone with a set of eyes — from children to magazine editors — fawned over the luminary, crediting the man with reinventing the chandelier.
While it’s out of the price range of almost everyone we know at around $40K, Boontje has proven to be a master of the high/low, which makes us love him even more. He tossed design lovers a bone with a version of his Wednesday Light for Brit retailers Habitat that sold in 2003 for a paltry $25. Even now, nature lovers can pick up Garland lights for $76, attainable for even the cash-strapped cramped apartment dweller.
Boontje’s loaned his romantic tastes to mass-retailers like Target, for their holiday line in 2006, and even designed eyeglasses for Alexander McQueen back in the day (pre-chandie). He’s already been canonized in a book by Rizzoli that features sketches, conceptual designs and a wee bit of die-cutting. Even Gwyneth Paltrow (a budding design maven herself) showcased her love of the Tord, showing of a chandelier in her Hamptons home in House and Garden last year.
Boontje’s believes in the tenet, “modernism does not mean minimalism,” or as we like to say, “more is always more.” And as long as he’s the one piling it on we’ll buy it (or at least pretend we have the money too).