DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
LS : I have always been amazed by the beauty of nature while evolving in time. Focusing on this principle I designed Flora as a tribute to the concept of metamorphosis of plants. Flowers and fruits are in essence the same thing, they are just at different stages of their lives. Even though not every flower results in a fruit, any fruit we enjoy was at one time a flower and those fruits contain in turn the seeds for future flowers.
DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
LS : I wanted to create a piece that was a sanctuary and a spiritual home for flowers, leaves, and fruits. People have vases at home to display flowers and plants, and some people use fruit stands, although in many houses they store them in the fridge. The result is that all that beauty ends up hidden to our eyes and as a consequence we also eat less fruit!. In my mind I knew I wanted a sculptural piece to worship both and help us syntonize with mother nature while being at home.
DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
LS : I am working with alabaster master artisans in Spain to produce a first small batch that I want to sell through exclusive stores. I’ll see how people respond and from there I might decide to explore the use of other materials for this piece to broaden the offerings. I am also open to talking to companies that might be interested in the design.
DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
LS : After working in a corporate environment here in San Francisco, I felt in need of developing some personal projects to feel the excitement that I used to have years ago. This concept was one of the first ones that made me react. I immediately started doing some clay prototypes and Flora was born. It was 2017. I fell in love with the concept and very soon I got some prototypes developed in resin in 3 pieces in San Francisco. I adjusted some flaws, and slightly changed some dimensions. Later on, I went back to Spain to reconnect with my roots and while traveling through remote villages I had the opportunity to meet with some artisans and listen to their stories. I felt the same excitement that I used to have when working on my own designs back in Switzerland where I did my Master in design for luxury and craftsmanship. At that very moment, I got thrilled about the idea to find some artisans and further develop and manufacture my Flora design. I kind of had a revelation and I knew I wanted to bring to life SAURAS, a brand to carefully design timeless pieces and collaborate with master artisans to bring my ideas to life. That was 2019. Then I started looking for the right match for my piece Flora, exploring different materials until I remembered alabaster. I had the answer. Alabaster has been used in the center of my homeland since the Romans were in Spain and the biggest accessible quarries of the world are in the outskirts of the town where my father was born. Moreover, the spiritual properties of alabaster made the material the perfect match for my design. The piece was originally conceived differently but due to the specific characteristics and fragility of the alabaster, the shape needed to be adjusted. The pandemic made all the process of development very slow, but finally the first alabaster prototype was exhibited in Superstudio Più during Milan Design Week in September 2021. Final design and production was achieved in 2022.
DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
LS : Flora is the fruit of my inspiration. I have always been amazed by the beauty of nature while evolving in time. When growing up I used to help my father take care of all the plants we had in the garden so I think part of my fascination comes from then. My guess is, that for this reason, I kind of developed an obsession with vases. The fact that they act as containers of the beauty of the earth, the flowers and plants, attracts me so much. It is hard to find a vase that I actually like but I find myself very often thinking about designs that incorporate mixed uses with plants.
DI: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
LS : Even though I have a small batch of pieces already in production I am also open to talking to companies that might be interested in the rights of the design.
DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
LS : As I already explained, my obsession with vases and the fact that they act as a container of the beauty of the earth, the flowers and plants, has a lot to do with this particular design. As well as many other designs that are already brewing in my head and that I’ll hopefully be able to further develop soon.
DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
LS : The basics of the Flora design had been a constant in my mind for a while. If I look at some of my sketchbooks from the past I can see similarities with other design ideas from very early in my career that I never pursued. I think the idea has been there for a long time.
DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
LS : Flora is a delicate piece that requires careful use. Obviously it has a function (as a vase and as a stand) but it was conceived as a sculptural centerpiece. The customer is going to be someone that can fully appreciate the intrinsic value of its message and that can relate to the spiritual side of the piece as a bond with mother nature. It is a piece made out of the highest quality alabaster and handcrafted by master artisans in Spain that also manufacture pieces of alabaster for other luxury brands, so I guess the target customer is going to be educated in art or design to fully appreciate and enjoy the piece.
DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
LS : I think when you see Flora in person it speaks by itself and doesn't need any other explanation.
DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
LS : Flora has a Latin origin meaning flowers, and in Roman mythology represented the goddess of spring, plants, flowers, and fertility. There is a myth around her where she was portrayed as a nymph who transformed into Flora after being kissed by Zephyrus, the God of the West Wind. Shown as a beautiful young woman in a long, flowing dress with flowers in her hair, strewing flowers over the earth, was depicted as having the power to make both nature and humans more fertile. My design Flora represents the metamorphosis of nature to preserve life. The transformation of a fruit into flowers to complete the cycle and through their seeds become a fruit again, a symbol of fertility. In the same way that the Roman Flora was portrayed as a god, I gave my design this name because it elevates flowers and fruits to the level they deserve, and for me it symbolizes the God Flora.
DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
LS : The design was very clear in my mind so I directly did the first prototype using clay. I hand modeled the piece and I immediately fell in love. That prototype allowed me to test dimensions and from there used 3D printed technology to get a mold for hand casting the piece in resin. The last version in Alabaster is completely done by hand by master artisans in Spain.
DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
LS : The fact that it can accommodate both flowers and fruits and present them as a sculptural centerpiece that encompasses such a significant spiritual meaning.
DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
LS : Once I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do, I worked with an incredible designer that helped me with the resin prototypes. For the production in alabaster, I am lucky to have found the best in class in what they do and it happens to be near where I used to live in Spain.
DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
LS : There is no technology per se in the production of the final piece because everything is handmade, but I took advantage of the 3D printing technology to create early prototypes. That helped me in the testing of usability and final measurements that subsequently I ended up changing and adjusting.
DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
LS : Since my idea was to create a sculptural piece to worship flowers, plants and fruits, and help us syntonize with mother nature while being at home, I wanted to find a material that somehow would have a spiritual meaning. I did some research to find the right material that would fulfill that requirement. I was looking into materials used in churches, cathedrals and spiritual containers used throughout history and I finally connected the dots. In my homeland alabaster has been used for centuries, since Roman times, in religious buildings as windows and church altarpieces. It is considered a spiritual material full of positive energy, helping to free the being and purify the soul. Alabaster feels warm and induces feelings of peace and calm. Its translucency evokes the fragility of nature.
DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
LS : Alabaster is a delicate material that can easily deteriorate with water. The piece requires a special treatment that helps to protect the surface without altering the beauty of the piece. The central pillar was originally conceived differently but due to the specific characteristics and fragility of the alabaster, I had to adjust the shape and that took several trials. That shouldn't be a problem per se, but due to the pandemic, and not being able to travel to Spain to test every iteration, it took much longer to finally achieve the desired solution. Every time I had to send a prototype I suffered delays with the shipments. Finally to create a smooth assembly experience and stabilize the connections between the alabaster pieces we added natural cork in the connection points to prevent breakage and scratches during assembly. Flora seems like a pretty straightforward piece but I can tell you it is not, there is a lot of expertise in the handcrafted manufacturing process of Flora that only with the hands of the best artisans can be achieved.
DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
LS : Flora, together with two more of my designs, was part of the 1000 vases exhibition during Milan Design Week 2021 at Superstudio Più. After the exhibition I was approached directly by a team of the A’ Design Award encouraging me to submit one of my pieces to the competition. The rest is history.
DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
LS : Perseverance and endurance to follow your dreams. Sometimes things come really easily, or with very little obstacles but even though as designers we are used to dealing with barriers very often, certain projects can really push you to the limit. And it can be the less expected one. That is what happened with Flora.. I just thought it would be somehow uncomplicated but I underestimated the complexity behind the material. Fortunately I was able to pursue my dream piece and look at where it is now!