The way we feel about the space around us fundamentally shifted when lockdowns began. Our couches became offices, our kitchens turned into makeshift classrooms and our homes were simultaneously a source of safety and frustration – too full, or too empty, or trying to be everything all at once. Thankfully, we are all slowly settling back into a semblance of normality, but our relationships with familiar places are changed. Even beyond the physical and mental shifts that Covid required of us, we are still actively seeking out places and spaces that soothe us.
But what if exploring and transforming spaces is what you do for a living? Caroline Byrne, a London-based installation and display artist, works for luxury brand clients to build sets and displays for their products, turning all sorts of spaces into worlds of colour, sculpture and surprise. Investigating and understanding each space she works with forms a core part of her practice and every installation she creates directly responds to its uniqueness. So, when space suddenly became limited, it moved her to go back to basics, working with the simplicity of paper and the shapes and colours of nature. “I’ve always liked making colourful things and something that almost takes on a life and personality of its own,” she explains. “So, I kind of felt like plants had their own personality.” These plants became ‘Brazen Botany’ – unapologetically bold, eclectic, elegant and fun, they are a sculptural take on the organic, combining Caroline’s love of clean graphic lines and confident colours with shapes and patterns from nature. “I began making them and then lockdown just didn’t seem to end,” she laughs. “So, I suddenly had that luxury of time, something I wouldn’t normally have because a client project would come in and I’d have forgotten about them and moved on.” Through the necessity of lockdown, her plants became a handmade business and before she knew it, Brazen Botany became beloved of interior designers, amateur and professional alike.