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Cover for Nature Inside

Nature Inside

Plants and Flowers in the Modern Interior

Penny Sparke


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The story of how plants and flowers have shaped interior design for over 200 years

From ferns in 19th-century British parlors to contemporary “living walls” in commercial spaces, plants and flowers have long been incorporated into the design of public and private spaces. Spanning two centuries, Nature Inside explores the history and popularity of indoor plants, revealing the close relationship between architecture, interior design, and nature. Studying the international modern interior through the lens of plants in the human environment, author Penny Sparke attributes a degree of the interest in indoor plants to urbanization, and, more recently, the climate crisis, which serve as ongoing reminders that people must maintain a connection to, and respect for, the natural world. While architectural and interior design styles have evolved alongside the popularity of various plant species, the human need to bring nature indoors has remained constant.

Praise For Nature Inside: Plants and Flowers in the Modern Interior

“Penny Sparke shows that bringing flora inside stands as a token of unspoiled nature, a reminder of what’s gone . . . . [Her] account . . . features all sorts of fascinating content."—Anthony Paletta, Metropolis

“At the heart of this beautifully produced and scholarly book is the exploration of our long, and often complex, relationship with indoor plants, from exotic specimens extravagantly displayed in specially commissioned buildings, to the tasteful touches of greenery adding background texture to domestic decor. I found it completely fascinating.”—Monty Don, author of American Gardens

Yale University Press, 9780300244021, 224pp.

Publication Date: February 23, 2021

About the Author

Penny Sparke is professor of design history and director of the Modern Interiors Research Centre at Kingston University, London.