Animal Architect: The Vogelkop Bowerbird 

When we think of impressive architecture, we rarely think of animals.

The Vogelkop Bowerbird is one of many designers within the animal kingdom, but is by far one of the most notable. These birds are found in Indonesia, and are named after the shelters they build to attract a mate. Male bowerbirds design, construct, and decorate an elaborate love nest called a "bower," which is made of bent twigs and found objects.  

Each bower is carefully built with strategic planning and woven construction techniques. Bowerbirds build very unique compositions, but there are two main kinds of bower structures. One is a cone-shaped hut that is attached to a sapling. This design utilized two column-like sticks and has an arched entrance. The second bower is more like a tunnel; the sticks are lined parallel to one another creating an elongated shelter. The core design is minimalistic and aesthetically sophisticated, but the true creativity comes after the architecture is completed. The interior design and color palette really gives the uniqueness that differentiates the males. 

The bowerbird landscapes a front lawn by clearing debris and places brightly colored knickknacks like glass, shells, berries, stones, flowers, and discarded plastics around the territory. Males select objects depending on which female they are trying to impress. These objects are placed thoughtfully in piles of similar color, shape, texture, and purpose. Sometimes they're even placed from smallest to largest, which creates an optical illusion to amaze females! The male bowerbirds artistically arrange their gifts as a finishing touch, as they prepare for the final critique of their convoluted gesture. 

The natural world continues to influence design; even the smallest of structures lost in the vast forest. I love looking for unusual inspiration - these little designers are incredible!

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” – Frank Lloyd Wright


Zandy Seager, Designer


Krashanky Inspiration

This year Easter Sunday falls on April 16th on both the Gregorian and Julian calendars, so let’s take a look at one of my favorite traditions from my childhood in Ukraine – the Krashanky!

This traditional Ukrainian process of dyeing the eggs is fairly simple, but it’s not easy! It requires an incredibly steady hand and years of practice to master the complex designs. 

A design is applied to the egg with beeswax using a “Kistka” to act as a masking fluid while the egg goes through a series of dye baths, starting with the lightest color. When the dyes are dry, the wax is removed to reveal the final design!    

Watch a quick tutorial here: How to make Ukrainian Easter Eggs!

There are lots of new tools available now to make the process easier, such as electric Kistkas to keep the wax warm, and a huge variety of dyes in every color, but when I was a kid we kept it simple applying wax with a needle and using onion & beet as dye. I didn’t have the patience then to practice elaborate designs, and mostly stuck to simple lines and polka dots, but I’ve always admired the traditional eggs full of intricate geometric patterns, or the beautiful petrykivka designs. 

I also love how easily this very old practice can flow between traditional religious imagery and very modern, even minimal designs, without losing its character.  For more inspiring examples, check out this pinterest collection of my favorite eggs!

Alex Koretski, Designer