Gnomes and mushroom eating furniture…

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One of my favourite books as a young boy was Gnomes by Wil Huygen and beautifully illustrated by artist extraordinaire Rien Poortvliet.

After extensive research in Holland, in the early 1970’s, Wil and Rien were able to create this detailed documentary on the enchanting lives of gnomes.

The book covers all areas of gnome culture from architecture, interior design and decoration, education, medicine and even their relationships with the other creatures and animals.

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The architecture, interior design & decoration from "Gnomes" by Wil Huygen and illustrated by Rien Poortvliet

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On a summers day I would find a hiding place to sit unobserved in the hope of seeing if the Irish gnomes were the same or different as their Dutch cousins.

Although my own investigations proved fruitless it did give me time to ponder and marvel at the world around me.

I realised that everything is transient. .

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"Gnomes" by Wil Huygen and illustrated by Rien Poortvliet

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Just as the blissful summer days spent gnome spotting would change to autumn so indeed would everything else around me.

What was once new becomes old. It dies or fades away to once again be replaced by something new and so the cycle continues.

Perhaps it was this that set me on the path of Wabi Sabi?

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Wabi Sabi Path

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In very basic terms Wabi is an understated elegance and Sabi is the graceful beauty that develops with time as the natural wear and patinas develop to create something totally unique. It is about accepting the natural cycle that surround us… there is constant growth – decay – death that in turn creates growth.  

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The super creative designer Shinwei Rhoda Yen has created a true piece of transient furniture. It has the wonderful name “Mushrooms Ate My Furniture” – because basically that’s what happens!

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Mushrooms ate my furniture Garden Bench by Shinwei Rhoda Yen (photo by Shinwei Rhoda Yen)

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The garden seat is made from natural wood and embedded with mushroom spawn.

As time passes the mushrooms will grow and live on the chair, being fed by the nutritional material in the wood.

Over time the chair will slowly start to break down and die having given its life to the mushrooms.

I think it is so poetic the notion of an object giving and sustaining life and then quietly biodegrading back to whence it came.

Close up of mushrooms on "Mushrooms Ate My Furniture" by Shinwei Rhida Yen

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And I imagine the gnomes will enjoy the mushrooms given they are one of their breakfast favourites…

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Gnomes Breakfast from "Gnomes" by Wil Huygen and illustrated by Rien Poortvliet

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