Patterns in Nature Inspire Design – Aspen Hike in the Sandias

October 9, 2010

This glorious weather! We set forth at – yawn – dawn -7am, before the sun peeked over then mountain (this being a Saturday and the alarm clock sounded at pre- 6am…). Naturally, that peeking sun washes across the west mesa and all points that direction before it rises high enough to clear the ridgeline and ultimately bathe its west side and the foothills. This time of year, the sunrise over the Sandias is quite a bit south of the crest. From the city, there are some patches of aspen visible, but we have heard that this magnificent hike will take us up along the crest to the north and open onto an expansive view from an overlook called Del Agua and back along the Ellis Trail.
Although the temperatures have been well above normal and we have enjoyed magnificent weather for Balloon Fiesta this week, as we got out of our car, despite being on the east side of the mountain, we realized that it was not balmy…it was chilly – NO IT WAS COLD!!! Well, not wintertime cold – but low 40s really got our attention as we pulled on sweatshirts and pants over our optimistic attire of tank tops and shorts!! The parking lot is not quite up to the crest, but high enough that a mile or two hearty walk up the service road takes us to our first stop, at the tram. Hot chocolate anyone?? We perch on barstools and collect our tall Styrofoam vessels of steaming and very creamy (we were surprised to discover) hot chocolate laced with the little topper of specially requested coffee.
So after enjoying the sweeping views from the observation deck outside High Finance Restaurant, we took off along the La Luz Trail. This trail, below the crest-line, follows the striations of limestone through quite green vegetation and into the sunshine that was now hitting the path. We stripped off our outer garb and rejoiced at the warmth that we had so hoped to enjoy this brilliant October morning!
The skies were clear – not a cloud in sight. We all but scampered along the trail noting small forest animals skirting away through the undergrowth from our approach. Squirrels ran along towering tree branches and chattered like exotic birds. Blue jays swooped through the air into the tree tops. Chipmunks darted across rocks chasing each other in energetic games of chipmunk fun.
We hiked to the trail that leads to the Crest – winding upward and giving that good cardio workout that we had anticipated – raising us up to the parking lot beneath the collection of red and white towers piercing skyward into the very blue yonder.
But our destination was still a couple of miles to the north and as we wound through the enchanted forest of handsome pine trees peppered with the shimmering leaves of the now quite evident stands of golden aspen – the sun filtering through with dappling light patches and bold beams penetrating the cool shadowy woods. Aspen…their leaves sprinkled all over the forest floor covering our path with the leaden grays of the spent leaves, layered with brilliant yellow, some chartreuse that fell too early, and surprisingly orange and red leaves more like the color of maples in the fall. These patterns and colors of the coin-sized leaves on the forest floor were so inspiring to my designer’s eye. I saw fabrics and color schemes screaming to be translated into the materials and fabrics that we use in the trade.
Vertical patterns also offered vivid opportunities with the shimmering disks of warm yellow leaves still clinging to the trees that contrasted so sharply against the clear blue sky. Blue and yellow – a classic combination, inspired by nature. Imagine the paint manufacturers meeting this challenge of replicating nature and then the often bizarre names that they assign to their finished products – when in this case “aspen yellow” and “sky blue” would say it all! But would it? You had to be there. The variations of the colors were endless.
Mannington Carpet has a pattern that mimics the organic patterns that we saw today. Style, “Squareberry” it uses the branch-leaf pattern – very much like the aspens we encountered. So, take a hike, experience the colors and textures and know that the root of all design is an interpretation of nature. Even the most progressive, metallic cloud treatments, transparent Lucite surfaces, layers of patterns, geometry of forms all are derived from an experience or concept that was rooted in our natural world. Whoa.

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