She's loved by luxury icons such as Dior and Bulgari. Exploring planet Earth’s most precious places led to the popular #FollowMeTo. On top of that, she started her own wood-inspired yoga temple in Moscow. What’s Natalia Osmann’s secret to success?
Let’s first chat about #FollowMeTo, the popular photo project of you and your husband Murad. It started almost spontaneously 10 years ago.
Me and Murad, we have always loved to discover new places. He’s a photographer, so when we traveled, he’d make images. It turned into a visual diary and a dedicated website, followmeto.travel. You see me from the back, reaching out my hand, an invitation to come away with us, to these fantastic places waiting to be explored...
I guess that instantly evokes some sort of magic, like, I wanna be there too. The project is inspired by love: love for traveling, love for unknown countries, love for beautiful places, and, of course, love for each other. We started our project on Instagram, sharing these photos of our personal journeys to inspire others. Back then, that was unique, no one had ever done that.
What’s the reason behind its success, you think?
I am guessing it is this successful because it’s real and made from the heart. We truly, sincerely love doing this, there is no ‘secret’ other purpose to it other than showing our love and respect for different cultures, history, and nationalities.
#FollowMeToo breathes timeless beauty. What role does nature play?
We get inspired by nature and the manmade. Nature and what is made by nature is beyond our understanding; the more you travel to unique places, the more you become aware of the subtility, the strength, and the ingenious power of the highest mind. We are equally impressed by what is created by men, whether that’s the temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, the stupas in Bagan, or Petra in Jordan: when you see these constructions made by people, you just freeze. This is pure creativity, inexplicable and compelling, places that have has inspired people for centuries. Oh, I must add the Taj Mahal, which inspires thousands of people for almost every reason.
The Ashram’s interior is a charming and pleasing space with lots of wood.
As a place of calmness and unity with oneself, the interior of the Ashram is a direct reflection of the slow living movement, where the main sign of quality is not a quick result but pleasure from practice and deep immersion in the process.
We chose the most tactile and simple materials for the space, with the primary role for wood. I'd say the wooden flooring was the most carefully considered element because it's the material practitioners are closest with throughout their practice — touching it with their bare feet and sometimes, with their entire body. Attention to detail was vital. The purity of the wood and lack of any unnecessary décor allows the space to be filled with air and light, which supports visitors to focus on their inner world. A quiet room that helps to slow down in the daily rush called life.
You've been inside many interiors around the globe. Have the aesthetics in cosmopolitan Russia changed? Maybe merging from traditional, polished, dark (-treated) wood and woodwork, towards liking more natural, raw materials as we see with untreated or light-coloured wood?
Definitely! That warm 90ies vibe, adorned with lots of gold and jewellery, has moved towards a minimalistic, very light, and laconic style. A trend that's not only residential but also goes for restaurants and studios here in Moscow. The vibe in our Ashram is inviting, detailed and concise — a clean design scheme, very modern with a correct floor colour, and unique walls. It makes me very happy!
What elements you’ve picked up on your travels could you apply to your yogi space, Ashram?
One of the main ideas behind the Ashram is to have a space where we can share the unique knowledge, in multiple directions and by different masters, with many people. It’s a place where you can truly get to know yourself through using your body — by practicing yoga, qigong, various bodily practices. We are now introducing nailing (standing on nails) and deep body engagement, where you focus is on your feelings and inner state: meditation, lithotherapy, sound therapy, breathing practices, Aura-Soma, and many other ways to hear yourself. It’s all about self-understanding. We also have a lecture hall where we invite creative people from different directions, from artists to scientists, who explain and talk about our different reactions and perceptions. I put my entire soul into the Ashram, and all places I have visited are reflected in the studio. India, Bali, Los Angeles, Brazil, Mexico, Africa, Egypt, Asia, and the East all came together in one single space.