Memories of the Garden: Nature Inspired Design

Our Founder and Design Director, Latika Khosla, shares her personal memories of growing up. Discovering nature, rituals, and varieties around PLANT LIFE, and how this inspires our design opus for the year.


"The seed of thought for our design opus this year – our continuing love for plants – was planted years ago.

Reading along with me, you will probably discover it is true for many of you. My earliest memories as a child with my mother were of walking through her garden flower beds. The beautiful decorative plants she paused to choose, and the placement of stones for rockeries in the garden are vivid in my mind's eye. Hidden in the back, the vegetable patch, planted with rows of radishes and mints for salads.

Summer Holidays introduced us to the indulgence and discipline of grandma's house. The bounty of an agricultural family, where life moved closely with the circadian rhythms of sun and season.

The scale of plant gardens was so much larger, and home was like a mini plantation and food factory. Fresh greens straight from the garden, seasonal fruits like mangoes preciously traded and gifted, and chutneys and achaars being bottled and cured like a seasonal carousel.

Change of seasons,

Change of foods!

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Summer heat was made bearable with flavored milks, Sattu, and cooling compounds, including homemade squash and preserves. The heat sweetened to rapturous levels, with golden mangoes eaten in white cotton vests. Rain brought in the sniffles and the dreaded banaksha, bitter medicinal hot herb drinks. Winter was prescient with its immunity boosting treacly compounds and visibly increased heat from masala and winter spices in food.

While we were not a family that did any formal rituals, the offering of flowers and sacred leaves became linked with play. Like mimics we would make clay idols or imaginary gods, who were showered with petals; rose, marigold and even hastily plucked grass. Our first creative impulses unleashed with an enthusiasm that belied the solemn, yet indulgent expressions of our elders.

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Flowers as an offering

Early curiosities about plant life bloomed with insight and discovery. Having a small plant on my windowsill and seeing the miracle - the power of the sun – to entice the plant leaves to turn their face towards its healing warmth. Playing with the orientation, and seeing it weave everyway, but always towards the sun.

Being a railway kid,

brought wonderful freedom to the family!

Being a railway kid, we moved to different parts of India when mobility was not a thing. This brought wonderful freedom to the family in its outlook. Young girls in Secunderabad, hair laden with fresh morning flowers, every morning. Such a contrast to our northern refugee family that traversed partition – where there was no time for beauty or vanity.

Thus developed an early fascination of the cosmetic uses of these plants in home remedies - the turmeric lepa for the face, the hibiscus & fenugreek oils for the hair.

The ritual, healing and cosmetic use of herbs and oils – essential elements – was a frugal mandate towards minimum maintenance.

Being exposed to regional cuisines, the women always had recipes to swap and explain the ingredients in their foods. Cultural traditions exchanged under the familiarity of a chattery lunch (enhanced by another favorite conversation topic – their lovely sarees). When is ghee or oil to be used. Ginger for the heavy foods and meats in the north. Balancing sourness sought from Tamarind, Mango, Lime or Yogurt? Curry leaves or coriander as the garnish?

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A book that deepened passion and knowledge of plants and flowers

In school, geography lessons opened a new dimension of experience of the plant world – the historical, cultural, and economic. Understanding the natural landscapes, types of plantations, and all those India maps with rice, wheat, cash crop areas! Road trips with the family and monsoon travel brought to life the landscapes with a wealth of vivid green paddy fields, rain forested ghats, and fruit orchards. Whilst we did not pay as much attention at the time, we also did learn about the economic power of plants and empires built on the spice and opium trade.

In Design school,

our mind is even more free to discover!

Working with numbers, under the auspices of some research, the teachers nudge you to discover the incredible Fibonacci series. Which quickly leads us to the engineered nature of plant growth. As a designer, I have long had an interest in the incredible field of plant classification and morphology (the study of plant external forms).


Plant Study Inspiration

Combined with an early exposure to the benefits of plants, this grew into an interest in local herbal and ayurvedic traditions of medicine. These parallel explorations informed our solutions to design problems ahead of us. Nature always gets there first!

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Prints inspired by the decorative and useful garden plants

Working life threw up only more interest with plant life and agricultural life. From branding or packaging design for food or personal care, where we looked at ways to communicate naturalness and softness in products that would come into contact with our skin or to be ingested. To our research on the color attitude of farmers in the land's richest agricultural belts. Designing communication systems internally and with our clients also made us borrow from the connectedness of plant life – pod like structures of information collection and dissemination. And year on year, as we projected future trends and directions in global design, we came to understand that there is always a need for natural reference, forms, materials, and a living story to be infused.

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Flower Inspiration

At Freedom Tree, we find ourselves rooted firmly in the Plant Family! Botanical and nature inspired prints and collections infuse the work we have done for years. This year, we are so excited to go even deeper and celebrate the beauty, healing power, and cultural impact of plants with our Summer seasonal collection: “Plant Family”

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Spring Summer'24

Preview Collection >>