Partner Post: In Celebration of Kelp Forests


All of earth’s life forms evolved from the ocean, and despite our current status as land creatures, we remain dependent on the seas. Take, for example, the diminutive Phytoplankton, microscopic ocean plants that exist throughout the ocean, and which are responsible for 70% of the oxygen we breathe. These mini, mighty photosynthesizers are extremely sensitive to changes in the ocean’s temperature, and their populations have declined almost 40% in the last few decades. Our oceans have also served as heat sinks, absorbing temperature increases as the planet warms. But the oceans are quickly hitting their breaking point. 

At CarbonShack, we find infinite inspiration in the natural world. Our passion is highlighting and celebrating the often-hidden beauty and bounty of nature, in order to help save it. Our California Kelp Forest fabric brings focus to the complex underwater kelp forests that are considered one of the most productive and dynamic ecosystems, providing food and sheltering countless sea creatures. Because of their immense capacity for sequestering carbon, kelp forests are sometimes referred to as the ‘lungs of the ocean.’ However, like their coral reef counterparts, these dynamic ecosystems are in decline due to warming ocean temperatures.  Shockingly, 95% of sea kelp along the Northern California coast was lost due to ocean temperature rise a decade ago. But as we are no longer ocean dwellers, we don’t notice the loss. 

Our mission at CarbonShack is to expose the unseen, vulnerable elements of nature, and to celebrate and elucidate our delicate interdependency on these hidden ecosystems. In all we do, we are driven by a sense of responsibility to safeguard and support our wondrous, fragile natural resources. With a keen focus on the organic beauty of the natural world, we are continuously developing products that bring nature’s abundant treasures into the home, in the form of fabrics, lighting, furniture and more.

Our most recent installation for the prestigious LCDQ Legends Fashion of the Home event, revels in the unsung undersea natural world, with a newly developed, kelp-inspired printed fabric, 3-D printed light fixtures based on diatoms and medusae (microscopic photosynthesizing ocean dwellers), and furniture crafted from blocks of recycled marine plastics, which swirl around the oceans in light-and-life-choking gyres.

In this evocative window installation, our Kelp Forest fabric drapes the rear and side walls, providing a fully immersive backdrop that sets the tone and theme of the vignette. Antique Bourgogne limestone pavers, naturally uneven and textural, stand in for the sea floor. Sculptural kelp strands, mimicking the textile backdrop, rise to the surface, their kelp blades fashioned from segments of sweaters knit from sea-kelp yarns. Diatom sconces, 3-D printed from calcium-like recyclable nylon, dance among the kelp, flanked by two Medusa chandeliers, their fiber-optic tentacles reaching out in search of nourishment. A vintage plaster sculptor’s model of an elegant nude stands in as a mermaid; she holds, and is partially draped, with kelp-fiber sweaters; at her feet, an antique carved marble shell-shaped basin.  Other details include schools of fish, crafted from discarded plastic bags and shipping envelopes, suspended from sea-kelp yarn.

The forecourt in front of the window features a reclaimed fishing net, suspended overhead as a canopy, holding a stash of captured marine plastics. Lit from within, it becomes a beacon in the night, and illuminates our Bright Seas outdoor furniture beneath it. Fabricated from construction-grade blocks of compressed salvaged plastic waste, these sturdy pieces are suitable for outdoor or inside.

We are premiering our Kelp Forest fabric, which celebrates glorious, seductively flowing strands of California sea kelp, rendered in the rich, deep tones of the sea. With an ombré background of teal that lightens as it rises to the surface, long strands of kelp dance and sway across the fabric. This textile, designed and printed in Los Angeles on hemp-fiber fabric, is available in full panels of 54″ width by 10’10” height.

Medusae—microscopic sea-dwelling protozoa—serve a crucial role, turning light into energy through photosynthesis, and as such are vitally important to life on earth.  Our new Medusae chandeliers, also designed and produced in Los Angeles, pay homage to these unseen, invaluable, front-line organisms. With their 3-D printed and fiber optic elements, these dreamy fixtures illuminate not only our most treasured interiors, but also our interconnectedness to the world around us, and inspire us all to find  ways to further support and nurture the natural world. 

We are also excited to introduce: Bright Seas, our new line of outdoor furniture, in collaboration with ByFusion, whose construction-grade ByBlocks transform dangerous marine plastics into functional blocks. We have taken this sustainable construction material, stacked and joined them together to form sturdy, comfortable and colorful outdoor seating and tables. Our Bright Seas chair holds its own as a stand-alone single, or lined up in multiples to form settees and sofas. Optional plush seat pads of sustainably-produced hemp fabric add additional cushioning.  Our Bright Seas coffee table, with its softly rendered bottom edges, offers a functional low plinth for serving food and drinks, or displaying works of art (though you may find that these unique hand-crafted pieces themselves works of art!).  Bright Seas furniture pieces are inherently water-resistant, and suitable for outdoor settings or interiors.

About CarbonShack:

As interior designers and creators living and working in Los Angeles, we are continuously influenced both by the region’s deep-rooted design history and by its awe-inspiring natural surroundings. We believe we have an opportunity and responsibility to create low-impact designs that also inspire thoughtful environmental stewardship. We believe that beautiful design and responsible design go hand-in-hand; that good design can also do good. (All photography courtesy of CarbonShack)

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