Last weekend, at the farewell ceremony for the late actress Kirin Kiki, a large display of white flowers, designed to look like a wave, greeted the constant flow of family members, fans and celebrities that had come to pay their respects, and to say farewell to the 75-year old who had passed away from cancer on September 15. The white wave of flowers was comprised of roughly 1200 chrysanthemums, orchids, and gypsophila (an ornamental flower known as baby’s-breath in the West).
Relatively speaking, the wave of flowers at Kiki’s farewell ceremony was actually quite modest, in accordance with her wishes for a simple gathering. Attempt to search the Internet for 生花祭壇 (seikasaidan, which literally means fresh flower altar) and you’ll see any number of extravagant designs.
The wave motif itself is actually a common one in Japan, alongside the mountain. Both are typically used for men because they symbolize strength, but the rules of the old guard are starting to come down. Even chrysanthemums, which used to be the only accepted flower, are now joined by other white flowers, sometimes even colorful ones. But the alter of plentiful flowers is relatively recent, having originated in Kyoto just 30 years ago. This would make sense though because the technology and logistics involved in procuring large batches of fresh flowers is also relatively recent.
A lot of money is spent on funeral flowers in Japan. In fact, in 2006 Beauty Kadan became the first publicly traded Japanese company specializing in funeral flowers when it listed itself on the Mother’s section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Youkaen, a general flower company that entered the funeral flower business in 1972 now says that roughly 75% of their 50 billion yen in sales (roughly $44 mm USD) comes from their funeral flower segment.
Over the summer, Haruichi Mimura, the founder of funeral flower company Sunvillage, published a massive 480 page book detailing the intricacies of seikasaidan. It’s an extensive look at the details involved in created fresh flower alters: everything from history and tools to the types of flowers and designs. It’s available from Pie Books and also Amazon. (Syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)
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Floral artist Rebecca Louise Law (previously) travels widely to install her beloved cascading flower showers around the world. Most recently, the UK-based artist worked with residents of Toledo, Ohio to install Community, her largest work to date. The exhibition incorporates over 500,000 flowers, installed with substantial help from local volunteers. Community is comprised of dried flowers preserved from previous exhibitions as well as over 150,000 locally sourced native plants. The exhibit is on view at the Toledo Art Museum through January 13, 2019. You can see a time-lapse of the installation in the video below, and explore more of Law’s work on Instagram and Facebook.
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Using modeling software and multi-material 3D printing, industrial designer Nicole Hone created a series of 4D-printed futuristic aquatic plants, or Hydrophytes, that are as full of character as the natural organisms they mimic. In the film of the same name, the hydrophytes are activated by pneumatic inflation in water, and transform into dynamic organisms that you could swear were actually alive.
“I have always been fascinated with nature,” the designer tells Colossal. “It inspires my design ideas and aesthetic. For this project, I became particularly interested in botany and marine life. I was amazed by the way sea creatures and corals moved, and I wanted to reflect similar qualities in my designs.” While working on her Master of Design Innovation thesis at Victoria University of Wellington, Hone learned about plans to redesign the National Aquarium in New Zealand. She thought that it would be interesting to develop a “future-focused exhibition” with moving models as an interactive installation for visitors. She began making test prints and discovered that the models moved best in water, which eventually became the pieces used in Hydrophytes.
Hone explains that software was used to create the shape, surface texture, and internal structures for the Hydrophytes. One benefit of the 3D printing system is that there can be a varying degree of hardness for the parts, but the machine can still handle printing them as a seamless object. During printing the works are encased in a support material, which Hone has to then painstakingly remove (sometimes a 4-hour process) by soaking them in water and using a toothpick. After cleaning, air is passed through the CGOs (computer generated objects) and they are placed in the underwater environments.
“They can respond to external forces such as gravity, water ripples or currents, and interaction with people or other 3D prints in real life,” Hone said. “Their man-made composite materials behave uncannily similar to living organisms.”
She went onto explain that each Hydrophyte has a unique character that is defined by both their style of movement and appearance. The colored lights that illuminate the printed plants were chosen to “complement each personality and amplify the emotive qualities of the film,” and the functions of each plant were inspired by the effects of climate change on marine species. “As the 4D printing experiments developed from abstract shapes into more plant-like models, their appearance and movement helped me think of which function would best suit each character,” she added. It’s fascinating to see the intersection of art and technology produce such a unique collection of objects. To view more of what Hone has created with her research, visit her website. (via Designboom)
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Photographer Sebastian Magnani carefully positions round mirrors in outdoor settings to capture two landscapes at once: the ground below and the sky above. In the ongoing series Reflections, some compositions reflect connected imagery, like blossom-covered grass and a flowering tree. Others juxtapose man-made surfaces like asphalt with organic branches. By removing the usual context of landscape images, Magnani allows the viewer to focus on the textural qualities of the environment, and some images even veer into illusions, as with the cloudy night sky that appears like a full moon. You can see more from the Swiss photographer, including portraits, on Instagram and Facebook. Magnani has also recently started offering prints of the Reflections series on Society6. (via Bored Panda)
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In addition to designing dramatic floral arrangements for vases, Joshua Werber uses an unusual substrate: his head. The Brooklyn-based designer’s ongoing series #FloralTeteATete focuses on just one or two flower types at a time. Using the blossom’s natural shapes, colors, and angles, Werber creates wearable sculptures which he then documents in unassuming selfies.
“#FloralTeteATete was initially intended to be a weekly artist’s practice, the goal of which was to motivate myself to create something, even when there is no specific inspiration,” Werber tells Colossal. “Just by being in action, the materials at hand begin to dictate the final product and the act of creation itself is inspiring.”
Werber has been sharing his weekly creations on Instagram since 2014, but of late has gained quite the following. Recent collaborations include the New York Botanical Garden and Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.
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In artist Sarah Meyohas‘s series Speculations, infinite tunnels are created with facing mirrors set against pastel backdrops. Smoke, flowers, and finger tips border the reflective surfaces, creating dream-like environments that pull the viewer deep into the image’s frame. Meyohas is interested in the creating a seductive quality in each of the photos. “Whether it’s the colors or the flowers drawing you in, I want viewers to feel like they’re being drawing into the void, like standing upon a precipice,” the New York City-based artist tells Sleek Magazine. You can see more of her mirrored works on Instagram. (via Contemporary Art Blog)
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The most basic instrument in the hands of a master can produce awe-inspiring results. For Yorkshire-based artist and printmaker Pippa Dyrlaga (previously), that instrument is a common blade handle equipped with fine point blades. The resulting works of art are incredibly detailed paper cuts of plants, animals, and abstract designs with hand-replicated patterns and variations in line width that give them dimensionality and bring the flat images to life.
Pippa only began paper cutting in 2010, a year before completing her Masters degree in Art and Design and Curation at Leeds Metropolitan University. On finding inspiration and imagery that would work well for her style and craft, Pippa tells Colossal that ideas tend to flow from her surroundings and from other projects. “Most of the time one piece will lead to another, but I sometimes get an idea that I just want to try out, something I have been thinking of for a while. I have always lived in quite inspiring and green places, filled with local wildlife and flora, and much of my inspiration stems from being outside and enjoying it, and feeling like a part of it.”
While all of her pieces are meticulous, Pippa says that apart from a basic layout sketch, not a lot goes into the planning phase. “I prefer the pieces where I work on the design as I am cutting them out! I will have a detail or a general idea of what I want it to look like in my head, and I will create the full image whilst I am working on it, in smaller sections, so it develops quite organically.” For larger pieces that do require some planning, she will sometimes make smaller versions first to see how the details will work. “I quite like not knowing what it will look like until its finished,” she tells Colossal.
As for how those details are achieved, Pippa assured us that the blades and handle are the main weapons in her arsenal. “Papercutting doesn’t require anything fancy,” she said. “The tools are as simple as the medium. The rest is practice!” She does, however, have personal preferences when it comes to the paper she cuts (good quality, acid-free, and from sustainable sources), and there are a few measures taken to ensure that the works stay flat, dry, and away from the harsh sun. “Paper cuts are surprisingly strong,” Pippa said, “but they can’t take much damage so they do have to be handled and stored safely, just like any paper.”
To see more of Pippa Dyrlaga’s work, follow her on Instagram.
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