A fine web of leaf veins, branches cast against the morning sun, or the silhouette of a pine forest looming on the horizon—Mareike Böhmer is fascinated by the perfect organic structures that nature so artfully produces. We visited the graphic designer at home in Bad Nauheim in Germany’s Hesse region and accompanied her on a photo safari. She told us how she reconciles her love of plants with her enthusiasm for clear lines, graphic patterns and Scandinavian minimalism.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
Four out of five days a week, I work from home. An important ritual is my morning coffee. Then, I think about my to-dos for the day. Sometimes I’ve got deadlines to meet but most of the time, I can just do what I want. Most of all I like sitting down and working on my graphics or editing photos. Now and again, I go out for some fresh air or to meet friends for lunch. And on the fifth day, I leave the office and drive away to photograph beautiful things and places or simply to switch off and recharge my creative energy.
Plants are a recurring motif in your work. What draws you to them? What do you like about close-ups?
I’ve been fascinated by all kinds of plants for a long time. I’ve always walked around my neighbourhood, often with my head up high, just to admire the silhouettes of the trees against the sky. They always look different depending on the time of day, weather and season.
For me, plants have the pragmatic advantage of being found everywhere—you don't have to drive far. With my kid, I can't travel to lands afar and photograph landscapes for days on end. Macro photography is an incredibly exciting tool for me to show the beauty of “everyday” plants that many people simply walk past. I can spend half an hour photographing the same plant and all its details with joy, only to come back in a different light a few hours later and get completely different results—the mood changes.
You love playing with geometric shapes like circles and triangles. Where does your fascination for geometry come from?
That is a really good question to which I have no real answer, unfortunately. In contrast to the organic forms in nature, which I find so fascinating, geometric forms provide me with a certain predictability and rigour. I like order—even if that might not apply to me personally—and I’ve become a big fan of minimalism in recent years. Playing with geometric shapes really caters to that. But I can also distance myself from order and minimalism if I combine them with natural, organic shapes or wild textures.
What does 2018 have in store for you?
The coming year will be particularly exciting for me because I'm trying out a new field—and we’ll see by the beginning of the year if it works out or not. Over the past few months, I’ve created a number of pattern collections for the home textiles and fashion industry. I'm a little interior junkie at heart and have subscribed to almost all the home magazines I could get my hands on—this seemed to be the next logical step. But of course, I still want to make graphics and take photos. My dream is a photo trip to Iceland or the Faroe Islands.
Text: Valeria Sambale
Translation: Nicholas Potter