flat lay

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Art Food Photography

Ubiquitous Items Are Organized Into Intricate and Colorful Compositions by Adam Hillman

October 27, 2022

Kate Mothes

“Skeleton Keys.” All images © Adam Hillman, shared with permission

Everyday objects are puzzled into meticulously organized compositions in the work of Adam Hillman, who has a knack for arranging items like coins, fruits and vegetables, toothpicks, and keys into vibrant flat-lays. Inspired by textures, color, and gradients, the artist responds to the tactile qualities of each material to form intricately woven straws, stacked pennies, and breakfast cereal into geometric forms. You can find more of Hillman’s work on Instagram, and purchase prints at Society6.

 

“Straws-hatching”

“Brick Work”

“Pickwheeling”

“Cubism”

Details of “Straws-hatching” and “Skeleton Keys”

“Balanced Budget”

“Break-Fast”

 

 

 

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Food Photography

In ‘The Cultivar Series,’ Uli Westphal Gets to the Root of Crop Diversity and Agricultural Modification

October 11, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Lycopersicum III” (2013). All images © Uli Westphal, shared with permission

Earlier this year, Russia’s war in Ukraine obstructed the global food supply in a way that exposed just how precarious the entire system is. The conflict confined 25 million tons of corn and wheat to the country, making such a crucial stock inaccessible and compounding the effects of an already urgent crisis.

Combined with disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic and the continual issues of the climate crisis, the war helped propel global food insecurity to levels unseen in decades. It’s estimated that approximately 800 million people around the world don’t have enough to eat due to skyrocketing prices caused by increased demand for a reduced supply. These problems are predicted to decimate local economies and prompt widespread unrest in the coming years.

Part of combating such an emergency involves understanding the core of modern production and how growing practices have evolved over time. Back in 2010, artist Uli Westphal took an interest in the ways farming and cultivation were affecting the availability of certain plants after a visit to VERN e.V. The German nonprofit cares for thousands of specimens, makes obscure or rare varieties available to the public, and is also “a regional network of gardeners, farmers, and local garden sites.” “They have a large garden plot in a tiny village two hours north of Berlin, where they grow a kaleidoscope of rare and forgotten crop varieties,” he shares. “I walked into a greenhouse full of tomato plants bearing fruits that I had never seen in my life.”

 

“Cucurbita I” (2014)

This encounter prompted what’s become a years-long project of documenting the planet’s incredible agricultural diversity. Encompassing both the wild and the domestic, Westphal’s “ongoing and endless” Cultivar Series illuminates a vast array of specimens through striking flat-lay photos. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and other produce arranged by color capture the breadth of the world’s crops, comparing their shapes, sizes, and molecular makeup—higher levels of chlorophyll promote the verdant pigments of leafy greens, for example, while carotenoids are responsible for bright orange carrots.

From Amsterdam and Potsdam, Germany, to Mexico City and Tucson, the sources of Westphal’s subject matter are broad, with some fare coming fully grown from farmers and others as seeds to be cultivated. “Cucumis sativus I” features fifty cucumber varieties the photographer grew in a greenhouse once connected to his Berlin-based studio from seeds gifted by a Dutch organization, for example, while the pumpkins and peppers in two of his other works were a collaboration with Peaceful Belly Farm in Boise, Idaho.

 

“Zea Mays II” (2022)

Whether depicting potatoes or pears, the images offer a rare glimpse of species that often aren’t available in the grocery store or markets. “Since the industrialization of agriculture, our focus has shifted to only a few modern, high-yielding, robust, ‘good looking,’ uniform, and predictable varieties. This change has led to the displacement of traditional crop varieties,” Westphal writes, noting that when a plant isn’t actively cultivated, it often falls under threat of extinction, and such strains tend to be protected by conservation organizations like the seed banks he’s collaborated with in the past. “A majority of all varieties developed by humans have already become extinct during the last 50 years. With them, we not only lose genetic diversity but also a living cultural and culinary heritage.”

The photos also elicit questions about contemporary domestication practices that are of increasing concern as biodiversity dwindles. Westphal tells Colossal:

Synthetic biology is evolving at a rapid speed, out-pacing public awareness, debate, and regulation and is altering life in ways that are unprecedented. My main concerns about synthetic biology (and genetic engineering) are the havoc that the inevitable release of significantly altered organisms into ecosystems can cause and the increasing consolidation of corporate control over what we grow and eat.

Three photos from The Cultivar Series are on view as part of the group exhibition Food in New York through September 30, 2023, at the Museum of the City of New York, and Westphal is currently working to document the seeds of the world’s edible plants, of which he’s culled a shortlist of 3,000 species. Prints of his flat lays are available on his site, along with similar collections centered on fruits and other consumables, and you can follow his practice on Instagram. (via Present & Correct)

 

“Cucumis sativus I” (2014)

“Pyrus I” (2018)

“Capsicum I” (2016)

“Phaseolus vulgaris I” (2013)

“Brassica oleacea I” (2018)

“Solanum tuberosum II” (2020)

 

 



Design

A Precisely Color-Coded Flat Lay Organizes 94 Gloves Lost by Their Owners

June 15, 2022

Grace Ebert

Image © Jim Golden, shared with permission

A new print from Thomas Scott and Jim Golden satisfies our human urge to organize. The color-coded flat lay arranges dozens of gloves Scott picked up from sidewalks and roadsides while cycling within the first few months of 2022 into a precise gradient. Containing everything from knit mitts and dishwashing essentials to protective workwear, the piece falls into the endlessly fascinating design category of “Things Organized Neatly”—we covered curator Austin Radcliffe’s book on the topic a few years back—and offers some hope that all those gloves we’ve lost throughout the years have found an equally beautiful home. The pair is offering prints in Golden’s shop, which is a visual trove for those looking for more impeccably tidy collections. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

 



Design Food Photography

Everyday Objects Are Organized into Perfect Geometric Shapes in Kristen Meyer’s Flat Lays

January 4, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Kristen Meyer, shared with permission

Kristen Meyer (previously) pinpoints the unique crossroads of organization and art in her meticulous flat lays. Influenced by interior decorating, prop styling, and floristry, the New Haven-based designer constructs precise geometric shapes and network-esque compositions from humble materials like eggshell shards, office supplies, candy, and disassembled bouquets. At once streamlined in material and rich in depth and texture, the dazzling works use implied outlines and negative space to construct interesting categorizations within squares and perfectly round circles.

Each work is a product of collaboration with Meyer’s husband Colin, who shoots all of the final images. You can explore an archive of her work on Instagram, and browse prints in her shop.

 

 

 



Design Food Photography

Flat Lay Photographs Created From Found Household Materials by Kristen Meyer

August 23, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Connecticut-based designer Kristen Meyer (previously) creates flat lay photographs on pastel backgrounds with precisely arranged vegetables, crackers, and other organic materials like rocks and leaves. The works are geometrically minded, like a recent design which created an isometric grid from sliced melon and kiwi or sliced cheese rounds that were transformed into a field of interlocking circles on top of equally sized crackers. All of her arrangements are shot in her house where she keeps a studio, however she often travels to whichever room of the house as best light. On the way she picks up various materials for her photographs, pulling inspiration from found objects.

“As far as how I find materials to experiment with, it varies a lot,” she tells Colossal. “I generally work with what I can find around the house, inside or out. It begins as a scavenger hunt of sorts, and then a challenge as I begin to build.”

In the fall Meyer will begin a set decorating project with photographer Adrien Broom. You can follow her style arrangements on Instagram, and buy select prints of her photographs on her website.

        

 

 



Design Food

Natural Materials Organized into Precise Geometric Shapes by Kristen Meyer

April 12, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Prop stylist and designer Kristen Meyer melds quotidian materials into distinctive outlines in her series of geometric flat lays. The designer, who is based in New Haven, Connecticut, gathers crackers, sticks, spaghetti, herbs, and other common raw materials and arranges them in circles and squares. The finesse comes in her use of negative space, creating implied borders lines that help complete the shape without a full density of “ingredients.” You can see more of Meyer’s work on Instagram. She also offers prints of her images on her website.