design by rebecca johnson
design by rebecca johnson
  Widely regarded as a vehicle for relaxation, a hammock tied between two palms on a sandy beach has come to embody ‘escape.’  When climbing into a hammock, prepare to be lulled away from the every day stresses of the world. Cradled and supported, comforted by the rhythmic rocking—one can settle into themselves. Read a favorite tome, watch the stars, or simply just be.

Many doctors believe that the healthiest sleep position is lying on one’s back, with the head slightly elevated about 10-30 percent.  This posture gives the brain optimal blood circulation, and allows for more un-obstructed breathing.
                                                                
From the Haitian word meaning “fish net,” natives of Central and South America first developed hammocks out of tree bark for sleeping.  By suspending their beds above ground, the inhabitants were better protected from insect stings, animal bites, and disease transmission.  Christopher Columbus introduced hammocks to Spain when he brought several back from islands in the Bahamas. Eventually, their use spread to sailors who rigged them aboard ships, enabling comfort and maximizing space, and to soldiers who utilized them while traveling in wooded regions.
 
Parents in the 1920s adapted them into playpens to contain babies beginning to crawl.  Ceiling mounted swings for babies are still popular in countries like Kerala, where the traditional Sari is long enough to be hung high- at 5 meters- but low enough to be safe for toddlers, an unique and fashionable rockaby.  Influenced by India, modern designers have reinvented the hammock: remedying the waffle-shaped marks knotted rope would leave on the body, and crafting swings that are as inspired as their surroundings.
 
Nestrest, designed by French architects Daniel Pouzet and Fred Frety for Dedon, is a tear-shaped hammock, which sits on the ground or hangs from a tree, providing users with an exclusive sanctuary that envelops the body and shelters those within it. Rest a Dedon under the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Sacred Fig in Sri Lanka; planted in 288 BC, it is the oldest known human-planted tree in the world.  Buddha attained Enlightenment under the branches of a Bodhi tree- an outdoor pod as the perfect portal for a meditative escape.  
 
Patricia Urquiola’s colorful webbed cocoon is the only companion one could want on Croatia’s Mijet, an island that the World Wide Fund for Nature considers one of the last paradises in the Mediterranean.  End your climb up Montakuc by curling up in the Tropicalia Cocoon.  Inhale the sweet scent of pine, and enjoy views of Aleppo pines and Holm Oaks (romanticized by Homer in The Odyssey) cascading down to the sapphire blue Adriatic Sea. 
 
Another kind of cocoon, Henry Hall’s hammock is certainly inviting, with its large surface that can fit a group, and includes optional curtains for privacy. A permanent installation measuring about 12 square feet and weighing over 400 pounds, it costs $20,000.  Cash it in for sandy getaway to Ibiza, and lounge with a glass of sangria in a luxurious party swing provided by your beachfront hotel. What hotel has luxurious party swings?
 
Once popular in the 50s and 60s, a hanging rattan chair has become the sculptural centerpiece of the contemporary Hollywood backyard. Rattan Chairs by Two’s Company weld together the organic with elements of plant life and spatial conceptualization with the abstract.  Dangle a chair over the banks of the Mekong in Kratié, Cambodia, and watch Irrawaddy freshwater dolphins weave through the river.
 
La Seora produces a hammock that not only looks cool and sleek- with its steel base- but it’s also made with plywood beams that prevent ones back from slouching, enabling better posture. It has an adjustable footrest and armrests that open when needed, and a pillow and side pocket to conveniently store latest reads.  Unfold a hammock by La Seora in the Ukrainian Tunnel of Love, an abandoned railway now-walkway-for-lovers just outside Klevan, and have a honeymoon from life with yourself.
 
Resembling the sail of a ship, the Wave Hammock has such a small base that it appears to float in midair. Designed for Royal Botania, the hammock has a semi-transparent canopy, blocking 86% of the sun’s rays.  Relax into a Wave Hammock in Morocco and indulge in a deep-tissue massage to cool down on your next desert expedition.
                                       
Invoke an almost spiritual experience by hanging a Knotted Melati Chair, with its rose window-inspired design, among the Cedars of God in Lebanon, a small forest that has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998.  A haven of 400 trees, it is all that is left of the once magnificent forest prized by Herod, Alexander the Great, and Julius Caesar.                                      
 
The Giovanni Travasa Eureka Hanging Chair is truly regal with its throne-like structure.  Perch in one under the Queen Elizabeth Oak of the Hatfield House in Hertfordshire. Venture out for homemade biscuits and rhubarb jam at the local farmers market later, or stay where you are, watching the clouds pass.

Dreamed up by German design studio Bless, a double hammock with a blanket lined in cashmere is the epitome of elegance.  Be lulled to sleep between the cradling branches of the Black Forest in Baden-Wurttemberg of Southwest Germany, or drape one in the dark corner of your living room near wooden accents, bringing the peace of the forest to your home.

Take refuge in the boutique edition of a Swiss Family Robinson experience, whether it’s a luxurious hotel hung between the trees of a remote island, or the one you create for yourself at home.

On a cooler summer evening, surprise guests by leading them outside to a dinner party in which everyone has their own respective Dedon pods- with recycled tin can phone lines.  Spend a quiet afternoon in a Beanock on a private rooftop garden in Manhattan.  Fasten a hammock to a piece of driftwood in the home, embodying the sea-chic of New England. Introduce the spirit of the Amazon into your living room with a handcrafted Brazilian swing.  String a beach bungalow in your backyard, by hanging a variety of swings, imitating El Paredon in Guatemala - a hut of hammocks overlooking the surf.  Or create the hammock of your Pinterest dreams, in a refurbished canoe hung from the ceiling, filled with fluffy, white down pillows- the perfect portal to aid in your escape. 
 

~Susan Brickell
 
SUMMER