365 Ways With Nature

Words by
Sally Wilson
| December 18, 2015

365 Nature is the latest book from Anna Carlile, the force behind Melbourne-based communications studio, Viola Design. In the late 90s, Anna broke ground by making the concept of ‘sustainability’ a practical reality in the graphic design world and first collaborated with local publishing house Hardie Grant in 2010 with her Walks in Nature series. 365 Nature keeps the focus on the environment around us, but this time invites us to ‘throw open the doors and let nature in’.

Photo by Teagan Glenna; terrarium by Bayden Packwood Hine and Charlotte Nicdao of PLANT by Packwood

We’re sitting in Anna’s office in The 60L Green Building in Carlton, home to Viola Design, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Environmental Justice Australia and the Nature Conservancy to name just a few! From behind her desk Anna flicks enthusiastically through a bunch of photos she took on a recent family holiday in Tasmania, and explains to me how her book 365 Nature came about.

‘I’ve always felt at home in nature and the outdoors,’ says Anna. ‘But the reality is I live in the city. The book is my way of exploring how to appreciate and include nature in the context of an urban, city-centric life.’

365 Nature offers a series of projects and philosophies that offer ways to do just that. The book chapters are separated according to the seasons, with activities suited to spring, summer, winter and autumn. In summer, Anna invites us to read the clouds, grow herbs and heirloom tomatoes, make a salad using those ingredients and then to enjoy the dish outside on a picnic rug. There’s an honesty, a poignancy to the activities and their singular focus. The message is simple: ‘put down your devices, your hurry, and connect a little with nature’. It’s a good one.

The projects featured in Anna’s book are both achievable and motivating; the photography delicious. ‘I’ve become a photographer over the course of creating this book,’ Anna laughs, ‘but I’ve also worked with some really talented types like Emilie Ristevski and Jason Charles Hill to bring the whole story together.’ Many of the book’s projects are also the result of clever collaborations. Wona Bae and Galenya Krajewski from Loose Leaf share their tips on weaving a wreath of wildflowers and making a tussie mussie; Jessica Thompson from PALATE Journal provides recipes for each season; Bayden Packwood Hine and Charlotte Nicdao of PLANT by Packwood demonstrate how to build and care for a terrarium; and Kitiya Palaskas shows us how to tie fluorescent macramé pot hangers. It’s an incredible cast of makers and creatives who share their knowledge!

365 Nature is a book imbued with beautiful aesthetics and thinking. It will sit on your bookshelf or coffee table and look gorgeous, but like a pair of good boots will also improve with age, use, wear and tear and the smudges of projects completed.

Anna and her Viola Design collaborator, Kasia Pawlikowski, have incorporated a series of reflective quotes throughout the book, carefully referencing the likes of JD Salinger, Henry David Thoreau and even Margaret Atwood, who reminds us, wisely, that: “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt”. Work your way through 365 Nature and you’ll see how that’s a sentiment worthy of applying to your life across all seasons.

365 Nature is published by Hardie Grant Publishers and available from all good booksellers for RRP $49.95.

All images courtesy of Anna Carlile, Viola Design & Hardie Grant Publishing.

Photo by Emilie Ristevski
The author of '365 Nature', Anna Carlile