Born to a long line of flower growers, the London-based artist and sculptor Marcin Rusak often looks to the natural world for inspiration, and is known to toy with organic materials in his delicate creations. For his latest work, Floral Noir, he and his studio have designed a furniture collection that preserves the ephemeral beauty of floral arrangements, made to last a lifetime—and to darkly elegant effect.
Ranging from tables to lamps, credenzas, and stand-alone framed works, each of the collection pieces features remnants of real-life flora and fauna that has been encased in black resin, then sliced into slabs, polished, and incorporated into any number of configurations.
Seen up close, the intricate surfaces hearken back to the Victorian tradition of collecting and pressing flower specimens in books. From a slight distance, the weighty, luscious slabs might pass for a swirling marble, or even terrazzo—the composite surface made from mixing fragments of stone with concrete, and which has seen a growing resurgence of popularity in recent years. Seen another way, the strikingly beautiful forms appear like fossilized vestiges of a bygone era untethered by the constant threat of environmental doom.
Enthusiasts of the Memphis Group may also recall Shiro Kuromata’s iconic Miss Blanche chair from 1998, featuring paper roses suspended in a crystal-clear resin seat. Floral Noir seemingly steps into Kuromata’s lineage and ups the ante using real flowers, which Rusak originally began to experiment with as a way to reuse waste, after a visit to a local market left him shocked by “the huge amount of discarded flowers lying around.” For his own part, the artist has compared his compositions of floral detritus to a moody Flemish still-life painting, “frozen in time,” machined and juxtaposed into high-end, one-off decorative pieces that are priced from $5,200.
“Just like objects of everyday use, which are often designed with planned obsolescence,” the artist writes in a personal manifesto, “these sculptures also have a limited life span dictated by the natural processes that overtake them. The organic material that I invented and composed enables us to reflect on the contemporary consumerism culture, exposing and embracing the processes of decay, destruction, renewal, and reconstruction through these perishable and ephemeral objects.”
In an age of impending environmental collapse and political chaos, the collection is a small reminder of the fragility of natural beauty—and to stop and smell (and perhaps save) the flowers.