Inspired by the simplicity of forms and Japanese “sensitivity to things”, Mónica Santos creates delicate and sensorial objects, which go beyond their functional character. The Inflorescence Vase, developed by this Portuguese designer from Porto, adds a new meaning to the archetypal flower, where flower arrangements are suspended in the exterior surface of vases.
Monica Santos: It started as an invitation for a ceramic workshop promoted by the platform Off Portugal. We were asked to explore Caldas da Rainha ceramic folklore, in a contemporary way and by using digital production processes. Caldas da Rainha ceramics are renowned by their figurative fauna and flora motifs, traditionally sculpted by hand. In the course of the design process, I decided to work on the flora subject.
The idea of a garden
Monica Santos: In a fast-paced world, the idea of a “garden” grants relief and is somehow therapeutic. Flowers are known to promote wellness and creativity and in fact, we need them more than ever. So, I started by questioning the role of the vase archetype and researching how floral arrangements are created today. Came to the conclusion that people want the freedom of use beyond the traditional container, they want to be part of the creation, they want to express their own identity. They wish to “create” as a validation of their inner human abilities.
Monica Santos: The main pillars of this series can be described through these principles: bring beauty and artistry to everyday quality of life, and enhance the object-user relationship – an object seen as a medium for a result and not just as an object to admire. Instead of the usual open container, flower arrangements are suspended on its exterior surface, a reference to the superposition of garlands as seen in contemporary ikebana.
Inspiration & Challenges
Monica Santos: Ikebana came naturally as an inspiration for the simplicity and harmony of linear construction that it was intended to inspire. Celebrating flora and gardening through new design concepts encourage the user’s artistic skills to expand their love for nature while generating positive emotions.
Monica Santos: The trickiest part of the process was reaching the right patinas in a semi-controlled method. I was on the search for a natural look, with nuances only attainable by the human hand. Several on-glaze tests were needed, alternating and mixing enamels and firings. No need to say, no matter how semi-controlled the method is, the kiln has its own way of always surprising us. Another challenge was finding a metal craftsman to develop the metallic rings, which complement the ceramic body. It was a surprise to discover that nowadays there are so few artisans capable to produce such a delicate small-scale accessory by hand.
Interview with Monica Santos Studio | Photography: Monica Santos Studio.