When looking at some of talented floral designer Natasha Lisitsa’s creations, it’s clear that she has vision. Natasha’s works are not decoration, they are art. Her style is often described as Exuberant Ikebana – a fusion of the minimalist design concepts of Ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arrangement) and her own passion for vibrant colours and materials.
Drawing inspiration from movement, clean lines and negative space, Natasha’s style radiates through every project to come out of Waterlily Pond, the Floral Artistry and Event Design Company run by herself and her husband, Daniel Schultz.
From expansive installation pieces to event decorations, Waterlily Pond have created incredible works of art all infused with Natasha’s talent for modern architectural design.
The San Francisco-based designer took some time out recently to chat with us about some of her biggest achievements to date and the projects she has lined up. When it comes to her proudest moments, the choice is easy.
“Elemental installation at the de Young Museum in 2009 is still my favourite,” she said.“It was our first large-scale suspended piece, wildly successful in the way it was received by the public and the way we ourselves felt about it. It became a benchmark for all other projects that follow.”
In its entirety, the project took three months of preparation. Beginning with extensive brainstorming, design development and prototyping, the project ended with a team of floral designers spending over 10 hours at the museum installing the structure and adding the flowers.
Since that momentous installation, many other projects have followed, including the floral installation commissioned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
“The MOMA installation was commissioned as a museum lobby centerpiece for the opening of multimedia artist Matthew Barney’s exhibition, featuring the film “Drawing Restraint 9” starring Barney and Bjork, and his related artwork collection,” she said.
“Our large-scale piece was inspired by some of the concepts we found in the artist’s work, most importantly the idea of transformation.
“We used wood in its different forms - walnuts, tree branches, wood chips, mulch, tree stumps and charcoal.
“It was presented with our conceptual statement: Wood, from seed to tree, to sawmill and onward to driftwood and charcoal, is found at discreet moments in its material life, and forms a spatial composition suggesting the narrative of birth, life, and transformation. Vibrant flowers allude to the vitality that shapes this experience.”
Natasha’s designs are complex in concept and implementation but it all begins with a simple notion.
“An interesting material is often the starting point for my designs,” she said.
“I like to forage to find inspiration, whether it’s a walk on the beach that leads me to sea corals and driftwood, or a trip to the hardware store where I come across a fabulous piece of wire mesh.
“Unlike many European designers I admire [those] who create amazing pieces just using a roll of wire and flowers, my designs are mostly based on found organic materials or constructing armatures out of a large quantity of small branch or wood material.”
She speaks in detail about the subject in her book Exuberant Floral Art published by Stichting Kunstboek, and that’s just one other aspect of her extensive career. The old adage may be true for some but for Natasha, she’s proved time and again that she can both ‘do’ and ‘teach’. She runs workshops and gives speeches, passing on her experiences and techniques to those wanting to learn. And she does it all in partnership with her husband.
“I am often asked what it’s like being in business with my partner. It seems that people have a hard time imagining working with their partner. But we do love working together. We learned to brainstorm and collaborate without arguing. We greatly value each other’s opinions, and we keep working and pushing forward until we both are fully on board and in complete agreement on a design, or a strategy, or any other decision.
“Also, we each have our own areas of expertise and skillsets that complement each other. I would say I am the florist and event producer in the family. And Daniel is brilliant at engineering and fabricating the technical aspects of our projects,” she said.
With their talents combined it seems there’s nothing they can’t do.
From designing wedding decorations, creating enormous installation pieces, giving lectures and running workshops, Natasha’s workload is varied, to say the least, but she really loves every aspect of it.
“I love everything I do. And what I love the most is the variety in my work. There is a never a dull moment,” she said. And as for the future, she has a lot coming up and very soon too.
“I am very excited about going to Japan at the end of September to participate in the International Flower show in Nagasaki, and creating an installation together with my husband. I never been to Japan, and being influenced by Ikebana in my work, it will be an amazing experience to actually travel there.
“I am also really looking forward to meeting other designers from around the world participating in this show, and seeing again those I met before, like Australian designer Bart Hassam whom I met last year at Iberiada in Mexico City.”
We can’t wait to see what Natasha and the team at Waterlily Pond come up with next.
See more incredible work for Waterlily Pond here: http://waterlilypond.com/
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