Cloud Based

Look to the heavens for design inspiration.

CLOUDS ARE COMPLICATED. In 1803, chemist and amateur meteorologist Luke Howard wrote “Essay on the Modifications of Clouds,” dividing them into four categories: cirrus, cumulus, stratus, and nimbus. Cirrus are the high, wispy clouds that appear in advance of a storm, while cumulus are the white, fluffy cotton ball clouds that everyone loves. Stratus, as you might expect, are the layered clouds that appear like a blanket over the horizon, and nimbus are rain clouds, which combine the three other categories and are generally thick, heavy, and full of moisture.

As a culture, we are cloud-obsessed. They make their appearance again and again, from literature and music to art and design, and we never seem to get tired of gazing at them. Is there anything better than lying in the grass on a summer afternoon, lazily discovering shapes in the stratosphere above? Search #clouds on Instagram and you will find 127 million results that would make Luke Howard weep with joy. For the truly devoted, there is an online resource called The Cloud Appreciation Society, based in the UK, where you can go down the rabbit hole of research, photography, and general fun facts about all things cloud related.

We know a lot more about clouds and weather today than Luke Howard did in 1803. And we are still entranced by their ephemeral, stunning displays. In “Both Sides Now,” as Joni Mitchell sang, “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now, From up and down, and still somehow, It’s cloud illusions I recall, I really don’t know clouds at all.”

Adrian Pearsall

The undulating lines of the midcentury Cloud Sofa mimic stratus clouds moving across the sky. Pearsall’s work featured organic forms, bold lines, and innovative materials. He was active during the midcentury period and founded Craft Associates in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in 1952.

Perennials Rugs

The Luna Tibetan knot rug comes in White Sands, shown here, or Breakers, and can also be customized. Tibetan knot rugs have a lush texture and are made from ultra- soft yarns, with 80 knots per square inch. Perfect for both indoor and outdoor use, Strato is a flatwoven rug with a bold tonal square pattern. The tonal palettes of Cumulus are moody yet soothing in texture. The abstract Drop Stitch design mimics a blurred floral scheme, and offers dreamy appeal.

Berndnaut Smilde

Arust Berndnaut Smilde creates cloud sculptures that last about 10 seconds, just long enough to be photographed. The series, Nimbus, includes this installation from 2012 at Ronchini Gallery. He has created sculptures, formed from a mixture of smoke and mist in cold, dry spaces, galleries, cathedrals, and even coal mines.

Brown Jordan

Juno Poufs by Brown Jordan come in a range of colors and can be used as additional seating or as an ottoman. Perfect for either indoor or outdoor use, Juno has an aluminum frame covered in high density padding and a waterproof cover, and is finished with woven rope.

2JFPCK6 Paris, France. 04th July, 2022. Model Liv Parsons walks on the runway at the Iris Van Herpen fashion show during Fall Winter 2022-2023 Haute Couture Fashion Show, Paris on July 4 2022. (Photo by Jonas Gustavsson/Sipa USA) Credit: Sipa USA/Alamy Live News

Iris Van Herpen

The Dutch designer is known for merging technology and an exploration of complex ideas such as DNA, human-animal hybrids, and the physics of the skeleton. In her Fall Winter 2022 couture collection, she explored celestial cartography, using 3D printing to create ethereal designs that evoked clouds and other heavenly bodies.

Ricci Studio

Ricci Studio’s hand-painted mural wallcoverings create immersive fine-art environments. All of their hand-painted works are executed by Liane Ricci in her home studio in Durham, North Carolina. The wallcoverings of Ricci Studio are the product of an artist’s love for the work, the quality of her materials, and a dedication to creating innovative and beautiful products for extraordinary interiors. Shown here, Atmosphere Glacier (above) and Atmosphere Rose Gold (below). Ricci Studio is available at David Sutherland Showrooms across the country.


The Seed Cloud installation is made from LED-lit glass drops encased in solid, cast bronze buds in polished bronze or satin nickel finish. The Seed Cloud sparkles over a portion of the brand’s Eternal Dreamer sectional sofa, in grey velvet.

Hellman Chang

The Paloma sofa from Hellman Chang evokes the curves of a cumulus cloud, and is just as soft. The sofa comes in standard or custom sizes and is shown here covered in fabric by Perennials.

HGWKMB “Cloud Gate” (The Bean) sculpture in Millennium Park in downtown Chicago, Illinois. Cloud Gate is a three-story steel sculpture

Cloud Gate

Anish Kapoor’s now-iconic sculpture resides in Chicago’s Millennium Park. The sculpture, affectionately known as the Bean, is 33 feet high, 42 feet wide, 66 feet long, and weighs in at a whopping 110 tons. The sculpture, which is crafted of 168 highly polished stainless steel plates, reflects the people walking beneath it, the buildings that surround it, and the ever-changing sky above.

Emma Donnersberg

French interior designer and furniture designer Emma Donnersberg is inspired by the inexhaustible forms of the natural world. She creates sculptural furnishings that marry function and beauty, and use organic forms and materials. The Cloud Sconce, available through StudioTwentySeven, is made from lacquered wood and glows when lit from behind. In addition to white, the sconce comes in black, baby blue, or light pink.

Perennials Fabrics

Inspired by a cloudscape design and aged velvet, Partly Cloudy is an understated pattern that lends an interesting edge to a variety of design styles, from contemporary to maximalist. Partly Cloudy is a perfect complement to high-traffic living spaces, and is available in six exquisite colorways.

Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter is one of the most famous artists to emerge from postwar Germany. He approached landscape painting with a contemporary perspective, and created abstractions that question the most fundamental perceptions of reality. He studied clouds throughout his career with his Wolken (Clouds) series. This one was completed in 2021.

Thomas Cole

Thomas Cole was the founder of the Hudson River School art movement and his work features the beauty of the natural world, including vast banks of clouds, from white and fluffy to foreboding. He wrote, [The sky is] “the soul of all scenery, in it are the fountains of light, and shade, and color.” In View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm— The Oxbow. 1836, storm clouds roll away leaving a rain-washed landscape.

Julian Lennon

Artist Julian Lennon’s Atmospheria debuted at William Turner Gallery during Frieze Los Angeles. The series of large- scale photographs highlights the drama of nature’s atmospheric forces, revealing Lennon’s passion for the environment and deep commitment to its preservation. Boom! is part of a series of ethereal images, some of them taken from plane windows as Lennon travels the world. A portion of the proceeds from Atmospheria will benefit The White Feather Foundation (TWFF), Lennon’s nonprofit organization. Since its inception in 2007, TWFF has championed conservation projects worldwide. For more information, visit

We know a lot more about clouds and weather today than Luke Howard did in 1803. And we are still entranced by their ephemeral, stunning displays. In “Both Sides Now,” as Joni Mitchell sang, “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now, From up and down, and still somehow, It’s cloud illusions I recall, I really don’t know clouds at all.”


The Timothy Oulton Cloud Curve Sectional Sofa, for RH, is designed for laidback lounging. It features the unparalleled, sink-in comfort of a soft feather and down construction around a premium foam core for support. It’s a modern marriage of versatility, perfect proportions and unmatched comfort and can be ordered in Perennials fabrics.

René Magritte

French artist René Magriue was a figurative painter who was inspired by the Surrealist movement in Paris in the 1920s. His iconic paintings have inspired everything from clothing lines to furniture, and frequently explored the relationship between man’s internal world and the external environment. The False Mirror (1929) poses a questions about observations. An enormous eye fills the canvas, its iris a powder- blue sky dotted with clouds, its pupil a jet-black dot. The eye looks at the viewer, while the viewer looks both at and through the eye, as through a window, becoming both observer and observed.

Virgil Abloh

Virgil Abloh was known for his unconventional ideas about formalwear, turning it into something less rigid and much more fun. The designer’s 2020 collection for Louis Vuitton was peppered with his sprightly optimism, and featured masses of clouds dancing across blue skies.