Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is not only one of the world’s most beautiful and exquisite natural wonders (and that’s official, by the way) but it is also the only natural site visible from space. The living formation along the northeastern coast of Australia is comprised of over 900 islands and 2,900 separate reefs where over 1,500 species of fish swim, making it one of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth
Unfortunately, last year the reef suffered the worst coral-bleaching event ever recorded in Australia due to warming waters. And for Aussie Darren Palmer, one of the country’s most influential interior designers who grew up at the reef’s southernmost point, its damage has also changed the conversation about the interior design it inspires.
“The interior approach to working with the tropical feeling of the area of the Great Barrier Reef is not as colorful as it once may have been. The reef itself is still largely alive, but it is in repair now and needs time to re-grow all the organisms that give color to the reef, providing oceans don’t continue to get warmer,” he said.
Palmer has managed to bring awareness to the issue through his work as well as adapt his designs by incorporating whites and organic forms that aren’t as vibrant and rich. He suggests drawing inspiration from Australia’s wildlife, its beach culture in general, and the motifs found in its seaside homes.
“I recently created a home…with lots of comfortable furniture, made with bleached or limed timber, soft white cotton or linen upholstery, nautical motifs, and ship-inspired lighting and interior details like hooks, handles, port holes, and paneling,” he said. “A natural palette of colors and materials works well in creating the organic feeling inspired by the reef.”
As far as home accessories and art go, framed coral pieces and coral fans add to the raw and organic look that is important for a reef-inspired interior.
“You can get amazing faux corals and resin clam shells that give you a very realistic representation of the living elements from the reef,” he said, adding a warning to stay away from starfish and dolphin motifs.
Of course, as with any style influenced by the beach, it’s important to keep things relaxed. If something feels forced to you or you don’t feel comfortable around it, then it doesn’t belong in the room.