Photograph: Kat Green
Marcin Rusak (born in 1987, Warsaw, Poland) is an artist and multidisciplinary designer interested in ideas of value, ephemerality and aesthetics. Specializing in storytelling, process and material investigation his work often incorporates research, object and installation as well as visual creations to explore overlooked details of our lives which recreated and reimagined are shown again in a different light.
As the son and grandson of flower growers he has long been fascinated by these natural sources of inspiration and decoration. Engaging them in his creative process began by reusing waste to investigate new decorative elements within every day objects and led to a rich body of work ranging from research and storytelling to cultural criticism around consumption and future scenarios.
• Hokuriku Kogei 2017: Excellence Award Recipient. Toyama, Japan. 2017
• Design Alive Awards 2017: Recipient. Warsaw, Poland. 2017
• Mazda Design Award 2017: Recipient. Warsaw. Poland. 2017
• The Arts Foundation Fellowship: Shortlisted. Brighton, UK. 2016
• The Architectural Digest Design Award: Recipient. Berlin, Germany. 2016
• Maison & Objet Rising Talent Award, Nominated by Ilse Crawford: Recipient. Paris, France 2017
• Hospital Club 100 Award: Shortlisted. London, UK. 2016
• Wallpaper Design Award Recipient. London, UK. 2016
• Perrier-Jouët Arts Salon Prize Recipient London, UK. 2015
• Research In Making Award: Decorex Recipient. London UK. 2015
• Decorex Future Heritage Foundation: Receipient. London, UK. 2015
• Moving Minds: Sustain RCA Award Recipient. London, UK. 2015
• Brilliant: Eddie Mundy Award: Nomination. London, UK. 2014
• Unnatural Processes: Design September Brussels, Brussels, Belgium. September 12th, 2018
• Creating precious and inspiring design pieces from waste material: Maison and Objet, Paris, France. September 9th, 2018
• Procesy Nienaturalne: Łódź Design Festival, Łódź, Poland. May 22nd, 2018
• Nature of Things II: Horta Museum, Brussels, Belgium. September 2018
• Flora Noir: Twenty First Gallery, New York, USA. May 2017
• Inflorescence and Other Artefacts: Contemporary Applied Arts, London, 2015
Selected group exhibitions:
• PAD London: Sarah Myerscough Gallery. London, UK, October 2018
• Botany Psyche: Duo show Marcin Rusak & Marlène Huissoud: Spazio Nobile, Brussels, Belgium. September 2018
• Worlds Kogei 100: Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design, Japan, 2017
• PAD London: Sarah Myerscough Gallery. London, UK, October 2017
• Jerwood Visual Arts: Jerwood Charitable Foundation, London, UK, June 2017
• Morphosis: Schloss Hollenegg, Schwanberg, Austria, May 2017
• Rising Talent: M&O, Paris, France. January 2017
• Design Miami Basel: Nature Lab. Miami, USA. 2016
• handiCRAFT: Traditional Skills in the Digital Age: MAK Vienna, Austria. 2016
• London Design Festival: British Craft Pavilion. London, UK. 2016
• Breathless: London Design Festival. London, UK. 2016
• Design Miami Basel: Nature Lab. Basel, Switzerland. 2016
• Design Days Dubai: Crafts Council. Dubai, UAE, 2016
• What Is Luxury?: V&A, London, UK. 2015
• Ready, Made, Go: ACE Hotel Shoreditch, London, UK. 2015
• Future Heritage: Decorex. London, UK. 2015
• Biennale internationale Design. Saint-Étienne, France. 2015
• Concerning Plants: Select Festival, London, UK. 2015
• Big.Small: London Design Festival, London, UK. 2014
• RCA Sustain Awards : Royal College of Art, London, UK. 2014
Decaying and ageing materials have an important place in my practice. I develop them from organic ingredients in order to create objects that have en element of life on their own. Through research, craft and utilisation of new technology I try to embrace a complex approach to art in order to re evaluate objects and their significance while celebrating the organic outcome of natural materials and processes.
When the family history of over 100 years of flower growers in central Warsaw ended with my birth, I felt there was nothing of a grower in myself. What I remember from growing up in my family home surrounded by abandoned glass houses is mostly their textured and rough industrial materiality and the presence of disappearance and decay at every step I took while constantly exploring their ghostly landscapes - glass, dry air, warmth, rust, zinc planters, pipes, machines, pumps, and multiple structures of unknown functionality. Filled with archaeological like discoveries, they remained quiet and empty but almost opulent in their multiple traces of living elements from bacteria, to weeds and dry soil evident in every metal container. Glass houses, where the life and growth of nature is controlled, became synonymous with a personal history intertwined with the impermanent nature of the material world and memories alike.
From my family flower business, to traditional works of art and craft that rely heavily on floral motifs, such as a carved wooden wardrobe that I grew up with, we, the human race, seem to have an enduring obsession with flowers. This interest was sparked further by a trip to the London flower market and witnessing the huge amount of discarded flowers lying around. I started collecting and processing them- as a reference to how often we use nature as inspiration in creating decoration but how rarely we actually use nature itself as decoration. This led to printing textiles with flowers in a self developed analogue technique and extending their lives by another couple of months or years as the print is quite ephemeral, just like flowers. I was intrigued by the enduring appreciation of floral motifs and investigated it further.
Once the flowers fulfil our decorative or symbolic needs, they become an unwanted and discarded reminiscence of life. Treated and processed, through my materials they regain significance and become part of a work which reference to their very temporary nature. I use them as a medium to talk about consumption where I investigate the flower production landscape, (Flower Monster, 2014) and other times I use them as a material itself, (Waste Flower Textiles 2014-2015, Flora Collection 2015-2018). In suspending floral and vegetal matter within resin, I allow the material to retain its authentic and genuine qualities. In the last couple of years I developed two materials, Flora Perma and Flora Temporaria. Flora Temporaria produces a surface in which the flowers are completely submerged in resin creating an intriguing depth. Objects made with Flora Temporaria become part of our lives, while contributing a subtle nature of their own. The main component is flowers, which once unwanted and discarded, now processed and treated- turn into almost life like tissue. These unique and complex surfaces mesmerise, recalling 17th century Flemish still life paintings while the overall piece remains grounded in its form’s simplicity. Flora Perma machines the surface length-wise, resulting in fascinating cross-sections of flowers. In Flora Perma, the decoration is not interpreted but comes from nature itself. Here, flowers are “frozen in time” and machined in order to reveal the complex and intricate beauty found in the cross section of flowers, the curve of petals, and the structure of leaves. Contrasted with black resin they appear as veins or fossils creating an almost stone like quality.
Simultaneously concerned with our culture of consumption and waste, I had this sense that there was a logic to employing actual natural material, in this case flowers, as the source of aesthetics to make objects that have greater meaning. Perishable pieces (Perishable Vases, 2014-2018) reflect on the consumerism culture, their ephemeral quality is achieved through the material they are made of – organic waste (flowers), shellac, beeswax and resin (at times also flour, sugar or sand are incorporated). Through natural conditions such as (high) temperature and humidity the objects start to transform - they melt, collapse and rot. Just like objects of everyday use, which are often designed with planned obsolescence (printers, phones, cars), these sculptures also have a limited lifespan dictated by the natural processes that overtake them. The organic material that I invented and composed, enables to reflect on the contemporary consumerism culture, exposing and embracing the processes of decay, destruction, renewal and reconstruction through these perishable and ephemeral objects.
Over time the sculptures integrate with the artificial (supporting) materials forcing ‘life’ onto them. The objects gain heterogeneous and ambiguous qualities. The blend of organic matter that they are composed of allows their performative and unpredictable qualities. Perishable pieces is thus an installation in constant flux that completes itself in the process.
It was important for me to highlight the process of decay and make it equal to the process of transformation and creation. To make it an experience where impermanence, change and chance are celebrated. It initiates this almost uncomfortable desire of wanting to preserve it, no matter what. It creates a non-physical relation which lasts as long as we consciously foster it. It is the objects we value that will outgrow the everyday and become representatives of our times.