The pandemic prompted us to reevaluate and, ultimately, redefine our relationship with outdoor spaces. Here in Miami, our day to day experiences are tied to the open air: on breeze brushed evenings we eat outside, stroll along the harbors, and walk through the city streets with a profound appreciation for our home and on the skin-meltingly humid days we cower in air conditioned buildings and resent the moments we have to dash under the sun. Further North, we cherished the time set aside for engagement with nature—from rustic walks through pastures and hikes up mountains, to inlet river rows and open-ocean sailing—but we generally ignored our surrounding environment unless it was actively threatening us with bitter winds or torrential rains. With the arrival of the pandemic, we as a society simultaneously found ourselves looking for ways to congregate in the virally-unsaturated open air and seeking safety in the confines of our homes. On one hand, cities across the globe embraced outdoor dining and alfresco markets as alternatives to indoor experiences. On the other hand, many of us were bound to apartments without gardens where we could only dream about easy access to the outdoors.
So this holiday, we're gifting our loved ones items that can enliven their exterior spaces or bring moments of natural magic into their urban abodes: hammocks!
Nothing evokes a sense of being in a mystical garden getaway like a perfectly formed hammock that, when used, cocoons us in beautiful textiles and, when not in use, lies as an invitation for uninterrupted relaxation. Hammocks have a storied history that winds through time as far back as humans have wanted to find restful, protected sleep away from ground dwelling dangers. As such, it should come as no surprise that hammocks are as diverse as humankind itself, ranging from nuzzling fur pelts to supportive and sculptural rattan pods.
Speaking of rattan pods, we begin in Marbella—one of our favorite cities—at George el Greco Interiors—one of our favorite houseware boutiques!—where we suspend ourselves above the lucid waves, gently lapping over the salt sparkling gold coast of the Mediterranean, in the rattan ribbon of the Jamaican Handwoven Rattan Hammock. Smooth palms are woven like tapestry into an elegant curve that gently cradles our bodies as we basque in the Spanish sun that once nourished the genius of Picasso. The hammock is as much a sculptural installation as it is a chaise, making it a sophisticated accent for any romantic garden and the perfect gift for everyone on your list.
The honeyed fawn palette of the palms is mirrored by the natural fibers of the hand-woven Garden Hammock from OR.CA, a magnificent manifestation of the design studio's intention to "create conceptual landscapes honoring a life without walls...[working] to bring a deeper connection between nature and the people that inhabit a space" (1). Strands of auric maple coloured fibers are spun to form rustic threads that are woven together to create a supple bark-like net that drapes softly, ready to support you as you rest. The Hammock is itself a peaceful embodiment of the natural world; suspended in the dappled shadows of sun kissed trees, the Garden Hammock seems to emerge from the earth as naturally as the plants it sways beside. It's an accent piece that will effortlessly integrate into your landscapes.
There is simply, and definitively, no more wondrous nautical netted hammock than that offered from Kariegan artist Steven Carter, who we discovered through the editor of UD News, Heilie Combinck. In the Eastern Cape Providence of South Africa, Carter, "a seasoned fisherman, Bosun seaman, rigger,..and craftsman [who] was taught traditional weaving techniques at a young age whilst working on deep sea fishing trawlers"(2), uses traditional slip-less knots to construct intricate nets that are strong enough to endure the thrashes of tangled fish while retaining a softness and devastating chicness. The New Englanders on the ARCANISA team were raised incorporating industrial fishing design into their day to day aesthetic—think Guy Cotten raincoats and cast net needle bookmarks—so Carter's custom nets, which marry contemporary design and traditional seaman craftsmanship, are a must have addition to any outdoor (or indoor!) oasis.
If you are looking to splurge and gift a one of a kind, once in a lifetime, hammock, head to the Noble Showroom in Brooklyn and find the Incausa Hammocks made by members of the Kuikuro and Mehinako indigenous peoples of Mato Grosso, Brazil. Straw coloured warp beams of goldenrod buriti fibers span the length of the hammack like strings on a harp, rippling between a lattice of white cotton weft threads that secure the buriti and offer the supportive structure of the textile. The hammocks are visually fragile and exceptionally timeless and will certainly be treasured by anyone fortunate enough to receive one this holiday.
If you are looking to surround your loved ones in a cocoon of colour, the hammocks from Hamacas Marinera and the Mujeres con Esperanza, Women of Hope, in Morazán El Salvador will leave you in awe. After suffering the climatic consequences of an ever warming planet and watching a once fertile river become thirsty, the women of Morazán joined together, with the same entrepreneurial spirit as the Radical Grandmas of Thailand, and established a cooperative through which they could sell their traditional hand-woven hammocks to provide income to supplement lost wages as crops failed in the wake of increasingly frequent droughts (3).
Now with their own brick-and-mortar location and an international digitally-connected customer base, the Mujeres con Esperanza continue to create vibrantly striped hammocks that are simply dazzling.
While this pocket hammock from Nauticalia may not have the hand-woven charm of Steven Carter's nets, its epic compactability—compressible to the size of a balled-fist and durable nylon construction makes it an ideal gift for those in your life who may like to take spontaneous moments of quiet and relaxation to enjoy the chilling clarity of high-elevation mountain vistas or swing in a stinging, salty ocean breeze as they brace the elements on off trail adventures.
When a bigger hammock statement is better, we turn to the Nº28 Climate Confusion Assistance hammock collection from BLESS design studio in Berlin. Braided tube-like ropes of polyester-stuffed, glossy black nylon form the seemingly inflated knit mattress on the bed of the Fatknit Hammock, suspended from strands that are inconceivably small given the visual weight of the slithering serpentine nylon pipes.
Then there is the eternally luxurious Fur Hammock. A tight cotton canvas base is drenched in and, frankly overwhelmed by, a sensual sea of coyote fur. There is something both instinctually primitive and inaccessibly elite about the Fur Hammock and we want nothing more than to meditate on this dichotomy while submerged in its seductive waves.
And for the little ones on your holiday list, gift the Woven Wrap Baby Carrier from ByKay. While the wraps were designed to allow parents to hold and carry their babies close against their bodies, we love the utilization of these swaddling swaths of OEKO-TEX certified, linen and cotton denim as knotted hammocks that rock our babies gently to sleep with their lullabied soft swaying.
Whether your loved ones find shelter in urban apartments void of al fresco opportunities or devote their lives to an exploration of nature and a pursuit of outdoor activities, gift them a joy-bringing, peace-providing, textile paradise with one of these magnificent hammocks.
And explore the full 2021 Holiday Gift Guide for more gift giving inspiration!