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Why the bare necessities are the new interiors motif

Nudes of all shapes and sizes are inspiring designers’ latest bodies of work

‘Boob’ and ‘Willy’ key fobs, £6.50 each, Ark arkcolour.design
Ark Colour Design

Boobs, bums and bodies have been ever-present in art and design in Western civilisation, but, with the latest reincarnation, there’s more at play than first meets the (naked) eye. From voluptuous vases to breast-adorned bath mats, there’s been an influx of homeware joyfully sporting the oft-censored areas of our anatomies – especially where the female form is concerned.

‘Nipple’ rug, approx £795, butlerlindgard.com
‘Nipple’ rug, approx £795, Butler/Lindgård
‘Nipple’ rug, approx £795, Butler/Lindgård (butlerlindgard.com)

So what’s behind this naked reappraisal? As ever with design, it’s part of a wider cultural movement. The prescribed notions of beauty we’ve been bombarded with are shifting towards a more body-positive mindset– and designers are joining in. Looking to the human form as their muse, artists are encouraging us to celebrate our figures. And, in the post-#MeToo world, women are doing just that – reclaiming their bodies and embracing them with joy.


For Dutch ceramicist Anne-Fleur Kan, the act of making her female form-inspired vessels was a statement on both a personal and public level. ‘I started making them to help with the acceptance of my own body while recovering from an eating disorder. They made me realise that all bodies are beautiful, including mine – I hoped it would have the same effect on others. Also, boobs are amazing!’

‘Love Handles’ vase by Anissa Kermiche, £340, The Conran Shop; ‘Boobievase’ by Anne-Fleur Kan, approx £26, Flora in the Garden; ‘Glass Menagerie Lady Vase’, £395, Jonathan Adler 
‘Love Handles’ vase by Anissa Kermiche, £340, The Conran Shop; ‘Boobievase’ by Anne-Fleur Kan, approx £26, Flora in the Garden. ‘Glass Menagerie Lady Vase’, £395, Jonathan Adler

Swedish design studio Butler/Lindgård’s ‘Tits N Ass’ project was spurred on by a different experience. ‘It started when one of us was kicked out of a museum for breastfeeding. We felt as though we were facing a backlash, which we needed to comment on,’ says co-founder Karin Olu Lindgård.

Artist Alexandria Coe, whose prints and charcoal sketches are very in vogue, thinks the current attraction to the naked form is to do with creating ‘a sense of ease and liberation’ at home – a sentiment shared by Butler and Lindgård: ‘Body shapes or motifs can be a simple way to visually create a warm and inclusive experience.’ After all, nothing is more familiar and comforting than the human body – and who wouldn’t want more comfort in these turbulent times we live in?

Top image: ‘Boob’ and ‘Willy’ key fobs, £6.50 each, Ark

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration February 2020

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