Marcin Rusak hails from floral stock. Both his father and grandfather were professional flower growers, and the young Pole was raised among the abandoned glasshouses of central Warsaw. They were his ‘childhood playground’. It was this youth spent surrounded by buds and blooms and branches and bunches that stemmed an intuitively aesthetic boy’s early fascination with all things petalled.
These days, the London-based multi-disciplinary designer is still entranced by the beauty of the natural world, but also with its ephemerality and brutal commercialisation.
‘We purchase flowers knowing they will die – consumption for the sake of beauty, sentiment and ritual,’ explains the artist on his Royal College of Art graduate page. ‘Nature was once the model of perfection but our aesthetics and abilities have surpassed the humble specimen. Highly engineered and mass produced, flowers have lost their scent, locality, and power. They have become commodities.’
His most recent work, recognised through the 2015 Perrier-Jouët Arts Salon Prize, seeks to give flowers longevity, to prevent them being discarded once they begin to droop. His Floral Lamp features a handmade brass structure with mouth-blown glass, in which selected dried flowers are cast in black resin. His Floral Screen comprises processed real flowers cast in resin panels, then sliced and set in a handmade cast brass frame.
Rusak has previously worked with geneticists to engineer the Monster Flower – a ‘perfect’ plant with a longer shelf life, stronger smell and brighter colours – and designed perishable vases from waste flowers and beeswax, which decompose if not cared for correctly. ‘I use flowers,’ he says poignantly, ‘to talk about our condition in society.’