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#EJSHeroes - influences behind the Amazon design

19th September 2017

To celebrate our fifth birthday, we're reminiscing over some of our favourite designs from the past 5 years to further explore our Heroes collection. To continue our reminiscent journey, we invite you to take a closer look at the captivating Amazon design; a dramatic jungle scene inspired by many different aspects... 

The complete Amazon illustration, featuring hybrid tropical birds and a fearsome and fantastical jaguar hidden in the foliage.

First and foremost, the Amazon illustration was initially conceptualised after a jungle visit to Ecuador that Emma embarked on. The perfect destination for a research trip; Ecuador hosts a multitude of terrains, meaning Emma came face-to-face with an abundance of wildlife.  From scaling the mountains to view the glaciers, to travelling to the coasts to whale-watch, to sleeping in huts in the jungle, the adventure supplied her with an amplitude of inspiration to design the amazonian print.

Left and right: A beautiful example of the wildlife present in the Ecuadorian wilderness.

Additionally, the body of work by two specific painters helped Emma to create such a unique and intricate illustration. Henri Rousseau's depiction of jungle scenes in the 1890s chiefly influenced the creatures within the Amazon design - in particular his 1891 painting titled "Surpris!" Within the artwork, a prowling tiger creeps through the foliage, with the intention to 'surprise' his prey - explorers. The artist was known to claim that he had gained extensive knowledge of the jungle whilst serving as a regimental bandsman in Mexico in the 1860s, but this seems to be a fiction and his paintings were probably inspired by visits to the botanical gardens in Paris and by prints.

"Surpris!" by Henri Rousseau, featuring a prowling tiger, helped inspire the Amazon illustration.

"And, as you'd expect, we've put an EJS surrealist twist on our symmetrical design, taking on imperfectly repeated forms."

What's more, the beautiful symmetry and natural patterns depicted by William Morris inspired us to create the Amazonian design. He showed that mass production – of a kind – can be beautiful. His patterns for carpets and wall hangings are medievalist yet modern: even abstract. From looking at Islamic as well as western sources he saw the beauty of repetition, symmetry and simplification. The beauty of a William Morris pattern lies in its combination of simplicity and richness. And, as you'd expect, we've put an EJS surrealist twist on our symmetrical design, taking on imperfectly repeated forms. Tropical birds are curious hybrids, resplendent with intricate patterns and fur. 

Left and right: Two stunning examples of the beautiful symmetry and repeated patterns by William Morris.

The design is also influenced by mathematical patterns within nature - the ways in which science and maths can be used to explain how all aspects of the natural world grows, thrives and survives. Naturally, the Darwinian evolutionary theory is an obvious choice, but we were also inspired by scientific depictions of nature within encyclopaedias and journals, such as the image below. We can't be quite sure on the artist behind the incredibly detailed image, but we're guessing its an outtake from an illustrated encyclopaedia from the 1800s.

An example of the scientific illustrations that inspired the more surrealist aspects of the Amazonian-inspired illustration, taken from an encyclopaedia in the 1800s.

Browse our range of Amazonian-inspired delights here.

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