Elements provide inspiration at Architectural Digest show

Intrepid visitors to the Architectural Digest Design Show here this month braved lashings of chilly rain to get there. But inside, the elements were the source of inspiration.

Water, wind, earth, light — artists found clever ways to showcase these natural elements in art for the home.

In the "Made" section of the show, where independent designers were set up, creativity was at every turn.

Photographer Susan Richman of Dobbs Ferry, New York, is intrigued by ephemeral qualities in an environment. She has shot dilapidated buildings through mirrors and Mylar. In her newest collection, ReFormations, she combines dyes with botanical material she finds on walks — "grasses, seedpods and hydrangea petals," among others - and then freezes them. As they thaw, she photographs their transformation.

Chicago-based Mitchell Black showed a large mural called Mountain. It was reminiscent of a vintage black-and-white illustration from a good book that might take its reader deep into a mysterious forest. In a wallpaper collection called Storms, charcoal drawings of roiling clouds and dust become beautifully transcendent wall art. The company is known for avant garde wallpapers that include oversize python-skin prints, captured imagery of sound waves, and spattered rain.

Tempaper's creative director Jennifer Matthews drew inspiration from Asian jungles for Utopia, a panoramic mural with lush trees and creatures.

Sisyphus Industries drew visitors to their tables that held magnetized steel balls tracing intricate patterns in silica sand, under glass tops. The tables come in several sizes, and each is loaded with a selection of programmed tracks that guide the robot-controlled balls.

Lynn Savarese's Ode to the Sea series of photographs paid homage to water, in all its frothy, tumultuous forms.

Simon Johns of Quebec brought his blackened-ash Shale console, a dramatic piece crafted using hand and machine to carve out the crumbling, textural details of a cliff's facade.

Hollie Heller , who splits her time between New Jersey and a teaching studio in Costa Rica, was displaying artworks made from found materials. She gathers things like shells and beads, and cuts up old playing cards, documents, fabrics and photos, carefully layering, manipulating and composing them into mixed media art.

"I'm thinking of progression when I begin arranging," Heller says. "It's a drawing using objects, a journey where the details become clearer upon closer inspection."

Brooklyn, New York-based Richard Clarkson Studio made the Sagittarius lighting fixture mounted on the booth's ceiling. It's one of the Light System series of brass, LED and mono-filament pendants representing the zodiac constellations.

The sky has frequently been a source of inspiration for the New Zealand-born Clarkson; he's got a billowy, cloud-shaped fixture in his lineup as well. He grew up admiring the night sky over Waimarama Beach, and aimed to recapture that magic in the collection. "We've all been left awe-inspired by the stars at some point in our lives," he says.

Another intriguing piece in his booth: a limited-edition wall panel made of glass, aluminum and acrylic on a wood frame. More than 700 tiny lights twinkle behind the laser-etched, back-painted glass face. Clarkson created it to commemorate the night of July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the Eagle lunar module on the moon, and Armstrong took those first steps.

"The Panel is an accurate map of the stars and constellations from New York's perspective on that very night," he says.