London: Inflorescence and Other Artefacts exhibition by Marcin Rusak

2014 Royal College of Art alumni Marcin Rusak has not had time to sit back and relax after his graduation: he has kept busy exhibiting at the V&A as part of the What is Luxury exhibition, collaborating with brands including Waterford and Disegno, and now presenting his solo exhibition Inflorescence and Other Artefacts as the winner of the prestigious Perrier-Jouët Arts Salon Prize.

Hosted by the Contemporary Applied Arts gallery, the show expands on his Flowering Transition project at the RCA, and investigates the lifetime of blooms in modern, fully industrialised floral production.

The pieces are inspired by his family’s historical business of flower growing. Perishable Vases makes use of discarded petals and waste florals blended with resin and beeswax to create vessels that, although temporarily extending the life of these elements, will in the end decay.

Another piece focused on discarded blooms is the Waste Flower Textile, where a sheet of silk is coloured and patterned by the pigments and oils of crushed petals, pollen and stems. Because of their natural origin, these colours and textures will change and fade over time.

The real protagonist of the show, though, is the Flower Monster: a 3D printed nylon sculpture of a super flower that collates all the most marketable qualities that the flower growing industry is genetically manipulating in its blooms. This makes for a fictional flower that lasts over a year with bright colours and resists shipping processes – a grotesque yet beautiful piece that also questions the industry’s use of nature as a commodity at the mercy of consumers.

 The project was developed together with a flower engineer, and it also comprises of an illustrated book detailing the research as well as engraved botanical plates.

Other works shown as part of the exhibition include Rusak’s Fragrance collection, consisting of three scents highlighting the smell differences in the flowers from a supermarket, a florist and a wild garden, encased in a delicate bottle made of resin and dried flowers.

Also revolving around the differences in smell are three mouth-blown glass diffusers, where the scent is distilled by the petals macerating in water and then released when inhaled. These works show how the scent produced by the garden flower is the strongest, because for supermarket flowers the scent has been sacrificed to shelf life – as it would consume too much energy for the flower to produce its fragrance.

The show is a poetic investigation into today’s flower production industry, constantly linking the synthetic and the natural, and questions in a delicate yet challenging way the very contemporary issues of waste, consumption and consumers’ ultimate demand for a perfectly natural-looking artificial bloom. For these reasons, Marcin’s work was selected by the creative influencers behind the Perrier-Jouët Arts Salon Prize as a fitting representation of the Art Nouveau principles in contemporary arts and design.

Inflorescence and Other Artefacts will remain on show at the Contemporary Applied Arts gallery until August 1st.

WGSN Lifestyle & Interiors readers can also find inspiration for flower styling and accessories in the new report, Flowers Now.

– Gemma Riberti

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