Dead Sea Scrolls-inspired design
The Dead Sea Scrolls as inspiration for an interior design editorial? A correlation, surely, you never expected, even if delivered by our curious pen. Fact of the matter is we’ve been keen to reveal today’s project for some time, though we’ve been sidelined by shopping trips to New York and our suburban before and afters.
So anyway, as we were saying: Dead Sea Scrolls. Here comes the history bit. Potted, sure, but enough to set the scene.
In 1947, a fascinating discovery was made in caves at Qumran, Israel (on the Dead Sear close to Jerusalem) that would go on to astound and captivate the world. A Bedouin boy, searching for a lost goat, hurled a pebble into a rock fissure in an attempt to chase out his cloven-footed quarry. When the goat didn’t reappear he set forth, with some trepidation, into the inky blackness.
With only a candle to light his way, he eventually found the goat, but stumbled, at the same time, across a caché of pottery, wooden bowls and basketry. Contained within these vessels were the parchments we now call the Dead Sea Scrolls, and, written upon these, were the teachings of the Essenes, a people from 2,000 years past who dedicated their existence to spirituality, purity and a collective way of life. These holy men and women, it transpired, were the sprouting seeds of Christianity and future civilization.
The Dead Sea Scrolls subsequently exhibited around the world (including Canada) and we were lucky enough to sight them when they landed in Scotland in the late 1990s. Since then, we’ve nurtured an ambition to visit the site of their discovery and, if we can loosen our diary, we’ll finally travel to Israel later this year on what we imagine will be an emotional journey of spiritual discovery.
While the journey, first and foremost, will be an indulgence for our hearts and souls, it will also, undoubtedly, colour our broader future; we’re happy to distill inspiration wherever we can find it. For now, though, in a C&J allusion to the colours and textures of Qumran, allow us to scroll forward using components that are natural, earthy and organic. Intended to honour the Dead Sea Scrolls — and their teachings — we hope our project inspires you.
Naive simplicity and utilitarianism combine with comfort and quality to provide an overriding sense of well being and sanctuary. We painted the walls using Benjamin Moore’s “Mountain Peak White” and found the soft colour to be the perfect backdrop for subsequent layering with a predominantly natural palette. To add a little colour pop, we painted the chimney breast with “Corduroy” (in a matte finish), again by Benjamin Moore.
Because we employed black-out blinds (discreetly positioned to the rear of the principal window attire), curtain lining was unnecessary; the rollers, indeed, provide perfect light baffling. In an act of economic determination (why over spend if it can be avoided?) we used roll stock cotton. Pencil pleated and machine hemmed either side, the budget drapery has a diaphanous, breezy quality that diffuses light while allowing sufficient radiance to touch every corner of the room.
We elected to dress the bed in high thread-count linen (don’t scrimp on bedding; chosen wisely, good kit will last for years) and, this done, dressed up the look with rich, textural blankets. Overlapped with ochre and oatmeal beaded throws, the nest takes on an inviting quality. Cushions with the appearance of raw sackcloth — but the softness of raw silk — further enhance the natural feel.
We refuse to blow the budget if we can find a stylish means by which to leave our clients’ wallets strapped firmly shut. Consider our nine-part installation: a quick and easy project, it evokes the very parchment of the Dead Sea Scrolls. To kick things off, we used clay tiles, sourced for just six bucks apiece, embellished with paint in sun-baked earthy hues. When dry, we added layers of torn brown parcel wrap, scorched at the edges to provide aged appeal. The uniform positioning of the installation provides a dramatic focal point and helps anchor the rest of our work.
River rock and ‘salt stacks’
In an attempt to create atmospheric results, we used a channel of stones to map out the room’s boundaries. Inspired by the walled cities of biblical times, the pebbly bounty, which hailed from an everyday garden centre, provides punctuation between walls and floor. In one corner, an enormous earthenware bowl embraces a cluster of huge craggy rocks, each one like an individual salt stack formed by the blazing heat and water evaporation in the Dead Sea region.
A little imagination goes a long, long way; using a textural willow screen purchased for less than $30, we completely re-versioned a $90 junk store bed frame. Being that the frame was in sound condition, we simply ‘wrapped’ it, top and bottom, in willow and secured everything in place with a staple gun. We often mix indoor and outdoor products; the marriage of both, carefully envisioned, can create unique and interesting results.
So there you have it; the easy living look of today, inspired by the teachings of yesterday; unfussy to the max, and a dogma for existence 2,000 years past. As we canter through life, often at break-neck speed, we can’t help but wonder if it might be time for the 21st century to slow down, if only for a moment. Although preferably not until we’ve booked our Jerusalem pilgrimage. Hmm. Maybe after that we’ll take our feet of the gas.