Life in Space as Azuma Makoto Captures Flowers in the Cosmos

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Japanese artist Azuma Makoto is taking his work to new heights, literally. His art project, titled Exobiotanica, pits plants high above their home, bursting in color and beauty against the backdrop of a glistening planet Earth and the infinities of space that surrounds it. The project is simple in concept, visually beautiful in execution, and says volumes about the planet we’ve come to inherit.

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Working out of Black Rock Desert, Nevada and alongside JP Aerospace, Makoto sent organic life to the borders of space, suspended by balloon. Bonsai trees, orchids, lilies, and other fauna or flora were subject to altitudes exceeding 30,000 meters and minus 50 degrees celsius. To the artist, exposing organic land-locked material beyond the confines of their earthly home transformed them into “exobiotanica,” or rather, extraterrestrial plant life.

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While Makoto’s intent is neat and its results hold true, I believe that there’s more being said here than simply sending life where there isn’t any. Jonathan Jones wrote on the Guardian, “these images dramatize the startling nature of planet Earth itself.” Makoto’s photographs beautifully put forth the mystery of life on Earth—something to be treasured, once realized.

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The fact of the matter is that our home, planet Earth, is the only known place in the entire universe to harbor life. We don’t know of any other planet that is alive as ours is. The richness of Earth’s organic matter is gorgeously apparent in Makoto’s arrangements, the brightly-colored flowers serve in stark contrast against the darkness of space that surrounds them.

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In talking about the importance of Makoto’s project, Jones references William Anders’ iconic photograph, Earthrise. Shot aboard Apollo 8 in 1968, the photograph was the first color image to look back upon ourselves from the outside. It has been declared “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken,” and helped spark the environmental movement. To me, this reference couldn’t be any more apt, as Makoto’s project entertains the same sentiment in aiding our appreciation for existing in a lifeless universe.

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While Makoto’s work might not be as historic as Earthrise, it’s certainly no less thought evoking. Projects such as these remind us that life on our planet is intertwined—Earth acting no more than a spaceship, nurturing its lively passengers. This concept has inherently been apart of our understanding for years, as demonstrated in the great landscapes of art’s past, such as Hokusai’s 35 views of Mount Fuji, which portrays the interlinking of sky and Earth.

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If you’re having a bad day or just want to feel enlightened, then look to pieces like Makoto’s Exobiotanica, Earthrise, or even Hokusai. You’ll quickly cherish the importance of this very special planet we’ve come to inhabit—it’s the only one orbiting amongst a vast sea of stars that’s bearing life and all its beautiful intricacies. Revel in the fact that you live here and are a part of it.

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Nick Partyka

July 29, 2014 / By

Westwind Farm, An Enviable Stone Farmhouse in Upstate New York

Westwind Farm, An Enviable Stone Farmhouse in Upstate New York

Westwind Farm, An Enviable Stone Farmhouse in Upstate New York

The Line has a great story on Laura Ferrara and Fabio Chizzola and their amazing farm in upstate New York. Both work in fashion, Laura as a fashion editor, Fabio as a fashion photographer, but in 2002 they purchased the stone farmhouse and over the last 13 years has been revitalized. Their apple orchards, once overgrown and unable to bear fruit have been brought back to life, eventually producing a bumper crop which they shared with neighbors.

“This has been thirteen years in the making. It’s not like we woke up one day and said “I’m going to buy a farm!” It’s been self-taught in a lot of ways, and we’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs—hurricanes, lost crops. We feel blessed that we could do this, and we want to spread the kind of joy that we get from it, because that’s why we’re still doing it.”

Westwind Farm, An Enviable Stone Farmhouse in Upstate New York

What’s remarkable is how fully they utilize the farm. The grow pears, raspberries, and garlic, they have flocks of chickens, beehives, they harvest maple syrup, and started harvesting the wood from the orchard for cutting and serving boards. Chizzola uses maple, cherry, or black walnut, all of which can be found on the property, and even uses the beeswax from their hives to protect the wood.

Read the full story and see more photos by clicking here.

Westwind Farm, An Enviable Stone Farmhouse in Upstate New York

Westwind Farm, An Enviable Stone Farmhouse in Upstate New York

Westwind Farm, An Enviable Stone Farmhouse in Upstate New York

Bobby Solomon

July 29, 2014 / By

Hilla Shamia Melds Aluminum With Wood In Her Striking Furniture Designs

Hilla Shamia Combines Wood and Aluminum In Her Striking Table Design

Creating surprising combinations in furniture design seems to be the biggest challenge these days. Hilla Shamia, an Israel based industrial designer, has created a fantastic series of pieces which incredibly combine wood and aluminum. Rather than simply joining the two materials with nuts and bolts the aluminum is poured directly into the wood, which is then cast into the body of the pieces.

Hilla Shamia Combines Wood and Aluminum In Her Striking Table Design

The results are rather stunning. You’ll notice that the aluminum burns the wood where they meet which gives a beautiful gradient effect to the wood. The seeming haphazardness of the works only adds to the overall aesthetic, and I love how the metal fills in the negative spaces. Such a fantastic project, I’ve never seen anything quite like it before.

Hilla Shamia Combines Wood and Aluminum In Her Striking Table Design

Hilla Shamia Combines Wood and Aluminum In Her Striking Table Design

Bobby Solomon

July 29, 2014 / By

Martín Azúa’s Shoemaker Chair Takes Its Inspiration From Footwear

The Shoemaker Chair by Martín Azúa

We oftentimes find the best inspiration in the oddest places. A song inspired by the name of a woman, a building that takes it shape from a sea creature. Martín Azúa found the inspiration for his Shoemaker Chair in footwear.

Objects are usually true to some schemes and they find their identity in some pre-established premises. This chair claims its personality as a shoe and requires the care of a shoe. Often objects, as people, have problems to be what they really are.

This chair is all about subtle beauty. The laces on the back of the chair that joins the leather with the wood is charming and effective. You can also tie down each arm to provide a more structured arm rest. I also love that the leather is paired with glossy copper legs that provide for a perfect accent color. I can imagine that this chair would age beautifully over time.

The Shoemaker Chair by Martín Azúa

The Shoemaker Chair by Martín Azúa

The Shoemaker Chair by Martín Azúa

The Shoemaker Chair by Martín Azúa

You can view more of Martín’s projects by clicking here.

Bobby Solomon

July 25, 2014 / By

Mary Wong, A Well-Designed Noodle Bar In Eastern Russia

Mary Wong Noodle Bar

When you think of the locations of fancy ramen bars, Eastern Russia may not be the first place you think of. That’s the location of Mary Wong, a noodle bar located in Rostov-on-Don that was designed by the team at Fork, a studio based in Moscow. They did an incredible job with the branding and the build out, opting to do stay away from the tropes of “Asian” design and instead focus on the materials to evoke a certain feeling.

Mary Wong Noodle Bar

I feel like the vibe of the space is contemporary with a touch of cyberpunk, thanks to all the concrete and neon. It doesn’t lean too far into the sci-fi aesthetic though thanks to the copious amounts of wood in the floors, stools, and main table. Overall it’s a really fun space that would be welcomed in any city.

Mary Wong Noodle Bar

Mary Wong Noodle Bar

Mary Wong Noodle Bar

Mary Wong Noodle Bar

Bobby Solomon

July 24, 2014 / By

Pat Kim Makes It Fun To Play With The Alphabet

Pat Kim - Alphabet Blocks

Last weekend I stumbled upon (not physically) these alphabet blocks by Brooklyn based designer Pat Kim. A collaboration with Areaware, these mahogany and pine letters are beautifully abstracted in form which makes them great for something other than spelling: building.

The description on Areawares site sums up my thoughts perfectly, writing, “A meditation in wood of our twenty six-letter alphabet. Build your own letterscape. Great for stacking. Perfect for the font enthusiast.” If I kept these on my desk I know my team would definitely spell out phrases (for better or worse) and make buildings and towers from them. The perfect present for the kid in all of us.

Pat Kim - Alphabet Blocks

Pat Kim - Alphabet Blocks

Bobby Solomon

July 23, 2014 / By

You Can Fully Customize This Designer Lamp… By Carefully Breaking It

Slash Lamp by Dragos Motica

The Slash Lamp is a brilliant idea by Dragos Motica Studio which gives the purchaser a choice: leave the lamp as is or use a rock, provided with the lamp, to carefully break it, making the piece a one-of-kind design. This sort of project is always so interesting as it brings conceptual design into the home. If you leave the lamp as is you’re probably not going to get many comments about it. If you choose to break it though you’d have a conversation for years to come.

Slash Lamp by Dragos Motica

It also questions the idea of worth in an object. Does breaking the lamp make it worth any less than when it was whole? If someone famous like Damien Hirst broke one would it be worth more in it’s damaged state? I love seeing projects like this that really make you think and question the objects around you.

Slash Lamp by Dragos Motica

Slash Lamp by Dragos Motica

Bobby Solomon

July 23, 2014 / By

Interview with Los Angeles Ceramacist and Designer Eric Roinestad

Eric Roinestad Ceramics

You know Eric Roinestad’s work but you might not know he was the man behind it. He’s worked at Capitol Records creating album covers and packaging for bands like The Beatles and Fiona Apple. Still, he had an itch to create things by hand again, eventually getting into ceramics. I came across his work at an exhibit he had at Mohawk General Store in Los Angeles. The show featured a number of beautiful desert inspired pieces that are some of the best I’ve seen in a long while. Thus I thought it would be interesting to ask Eric about his thoughts on his inspirations and future.

What spurred this collection? It makes me think of Palm Springs and the desert, which I love.
The desert and California landscape was the big inspiration on this collection of pieces; I’m glad that came across.

What’s your process for making the pieces? Do you sculpt all the pieces or are they cast?
Everything is either hand built, or thrown on the wheel with hand applied elements. The cans, however, are press molded. Most of what I do is pretty labor intensive, casting is very tempting but I would hate to lose the one of a kind quality my pieces have. I like seeing a creator’s hand in their work.

Eric Roinestad Ceramics

I’m a huge fan of ceramics and one day I’d love to start my own line. What started you down this path?
When I started out as a graphic designer computers were still new and I was doing most of my work by hand, pasting up layouts and hand drawing logos, I loved it. Then computers took over and I would sit in front of my screen all day, really missing working with my hands. Ceramics started out as an after work activity when I was at Capitol Records. A friend of mine and I would drive out to Monrovia Community Adult School for ceramics class one night a week, and it never stopped. About a year and a half ago I converted my studio space and devoted most of my time to ceramics; in November, Lawson Fenning asked to sell my stuff in their store.

Eric Roinestad Ceramics

Where are you drawing your inspirations from lately?
I’m always looking at nature for a lot of my inspiration. We have a large California native garden, so most of my inspiration is right outside my studio door. I’ve also been inspired by the shapes in Jean-Michel Frank’s work, as well as the bronze and plaster work that Diego and Alberto Giacometti did for him in the 1930’s. I’d love to interpret that 30’s French modernism in a California sort of way.

Eric Roinestad Ceramics

Anything coming up you’d like to talk about?
Since my show opened at Mohawk General Store some interesting new opportunities have appeared. I am excited about collaborations with other companies and designers. One project that I am eager to show are mirrors with ceramic tiles and tile tables I have been working on with a good friend, Christos Prevezanos, at Studio Preveza.

Eric Roinestad Ceramics

Bobby Solomon

July 21, 2014 / By

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