An open container, an object for ornamentation, the flower vase has been around since ancient times but somehow never leaves the center stage in terms of design. Its function is clear and easy to achieve, however, it is the morphology, texture, color, feel, and ways of relating to its context that keep intriguing designers and artists, leading them to constantly create new objects. Thinking of the flower vase as an object, a noun, a concept to be colored and enriched by each person, we made a small selection of contemporary vases that tell their own story. The compilation shows different faces of the same object through the work of five young designers that shape their practice around sustainability, self-sufficiency, innovative materials, and new perspectives.
Paula Nerlich is a London based designer and explorer. With an ecological approach, she works in the field of material design with a strong focus on circular biomaterials. Her current research explores the development and application of vegan compostable bioplastics and foams from industrial and household food waste with diverse potential applications within product and interiors design. Her vases are part of her vegan compostable tableware collection, which has been displayed at the London Design Museum and whose materials can be found in several material libraries in Europe.
On a similar path, Aurore Piette builds her practice around the concept of sustainable interior design with a sense of self-sufficiency. Working with discarded sediments and materials that are discharged as waste in the ocean because of human activities, she describes her work as a collaboration with nature in the French Atlantic Coast. Developing different techniques with engineers and craftsmen, her practice has led her to several applications in design, such as ceramics and furniture and construction and architecture, producing wall coatings, bricks, and tiles. Aurore Piette Studio pieces stand somewhere between contemporary craft and wabi-sabi philosophy—not perfect, impermanent, incomplete—hence, the resulting aesthetic is directly inspired by the local topography and the origin of the materials. Her vases remind us of a more elemental work, where imperfections are not only allowed but also part of an organic and manual process. Materiality and shape converge in a clear, unanimous way that resonates in a unique series of objects.
South Korean designer Hyunhee Hwang designed the Scala collection from Extra & Ordinary Studio. The vases are inspired by ancient Roman architecture, repetitive arch patterns, and layered construction. The collection also mimics the extraordinary topography of the south coast of Sicily, Scala dei Turchi, with its stepped white cliffs into the Mediterranean Sea. Not vases entirely, these pastel-colored pieces are independent objects that allow the insertion of a second tubular vase in which the flowers can be placed.
Each product is carefully handcrafted with Jesmonite in the Extra & Ordinary studio in London. The pieces are cast using a series of pigments mixed by hand to replicate the aesthetic of real stones such as white Carrara and green and peach marbles. The pigment hand mixing process combined with the weight and the stone touch of the materials offers the Scala collection uniqueness and lasting value.
In other cases, it is not about new material or technique, but the combined radical use of these that can result in beautiful new pieces, such as in the Oasis vases from Moreno Schweikle. Reflecting on the loose design and appeal of every-day objects, the Netherlands-based design project Oasis is a way to reassess how we look at the standardized object.
Utilizing discarded water cooler bottles to create a series of unique, handmade sculptural vases, Oasis is a multifaceted project that aims to revive the value of water through the objects that represent it. The result is a series of bubbly, transparent, and rather large vases that create luminous reflections on nearby surfaces, making the whole space feel hydrated.
“We have been ignoring the beauty of water for too long, and that water coolers are the perfect example of how products can lose their appeal when form becomes inferior to function and producibility.”– Moreno Schweikle
The personal search of Valeria Vasileva, who has lent her name to the designs, focuses on combining art, design, and functionality. This project was born in Barcelona, and it focuses on designing and manufacturing a small series of pieces in different materials, with geometry and simplicity as protagonists. The series has been exhibited at the Mies Van der Rohe pavilion in Barcelona, Espace Commines in Paris, Matadero in Madrid, and Kian Gallery in Tokyo.
In the vases, form and volume converge to create small functional sculptures with defined lines in which the emptiness of matter acquires as much importance as its presence. The interior geometry of the object plays and is confused with the outer space to create unexpected visions that flow, change, and are ordered according to the light. Lights and shadows and color and no color are combined with matter and vacuum to create changing spatial geometries.