Collection Close-Up - Kew Gardens

‘The greatest flower artists have been those who have found beauty in truth; who have understood plants scientifically, but who have yet seen and described them with the eye and the hand of the artist.’

Wilfrid Blunt - ‘The Art of Botanical Illustration’

Just a short walk along the Thames from Kew Bridge railway station you will discover the Royal Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO world heritage site hidden behind a winding wall covering 326 acres of earthly delights.

The practice of botanical art is centuries old and stretches back to the civilizations of ancient Greece and China. Created as a way to record plants for medicinal purposes, books called herbals were used to identify plants and advise practitioners on how to make medicines and ointments. Many of these illustrations were created using woodblocks and are works of art in their own right. Botanical art has its roots in a plant record called the Florilegium (plural Florilegium) a collection of illustrations of all the many plants and flowers that grew in some of the most illustrious gardens. Wealthy landowners, including George III and Queen Charlotte, early residents of Kew, employed explorers and botanical artists to discover and record plants from their gardens and more exotic specimens from across the globe. What may have started as a PR exercise on the splendor of the King’s garden is now an important record of the era. Kew’s Library, Art and Archives collection now holds over 2000 years of plant knowledge, many of which come from these wonderful catalogs of early European gardens.

Although Kew is a temple of scientific knowledge, it is also a place of wonder. Born in an age where pleasure gardens in the capital were in full swing, from the very beginning Kew has been a place of refuge and pleasure, a respite from the city beyond its garden walls. Although it started life as a garden for royal pleasure, the gardens were closed to the public before 1 pm to allow students of botany to go about their work. Due to its proximity to the railway, Kew became a popular destination for working-class families from the East End.

This is not merely a museum of botanical art, but a reminder of how indigenous flora and fauna was brought to the British public, inspiring them with their exoticism. This feeling of the exotic and the wonder the original visitors must have felt was a great inspiration for creative director Kelly Hyatt when he was designing the Kew collection of greeting cards.

Lagom is a Swedish word that describes the feeling when something has ‘perfect balance’ or is ‘just right’. Creative Director Kelly Hyatt was given access to Kew’s archive of botanical drawings and has selected images that have been used to design a new range of greeting cards. He said, “I love the natural world and Kew has always been a great source of inspiration. My design work is always about colors and the importance of balancing them and what better place to look for inspiration than the natural world. For me, Kew is a place of fantasy and magic and in this collection, I have played with color to create greeting cards that are bold and fresh. I wanted to inspire the viewer to see the botanical images through the eyes of those intrepid explorers who discovered the flowers and plants for the very first time.”

And this is the beauty of Kew. A place where plants are sacred, each leaf and petal tended and preserved for the future of science, beauty and the planet. Kew inspires feelings of love, care and the need to cherish. The Kew collection not only pays homage to the past but looks towards the future, in some small way contributing to the appreciation of the natural world and our need to protect it. Art has the capacity to inspire us, to rouse the passions needed to fully appreciate our beautiful planet and the fight to save it.

Everything made by Lagom Design is created with the planet in mind and respect has been paid not only to Kew’s environmental credentials but to the spirit of this iconic place. Says Hyatt, “Working on this collection I was mindful of the history and heritage of Kew and wanted to design a range that was both contemporary and respectful to this British institution and the original botanical artists.”

The result is a collection of cards that have a broad appeal without being populist. The Kew collection is printed using vegetable-based inks on Lagom Kendall White paper manufactured at a British paper mill in the Lake District. The collection was launched in June 2019.

Lagom Design was established in Paris in April 2007 with the aim of placing a renewed focus on quality in print and design. The Lagom name is distinguishable by the quality of its premium products. From humble beginnings, Lagom has grown into an international business and has crafted paper products for over 22 countries worldwide, selling their cards wholesale and online. Article content credit: Lagom Design

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