Lítill Takes Flight in Berlin

Terrariums that defy gravity and cultivate offshoots of the unpredictable are what Lítill's latest project at Direktorenhaus in Berlin, Jette and Fabrik, is all about.

Designer Lauren Coleman has upped the ante from tabletop handblown glass forms to a live two-part installation, Jette and Fabrik, currently on view through July 15, 2012. Part ad-hoc science experiment, part homage to Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto and the interactive possibilities of biomorphic craft, this is a whole new dimension for Brooklyn-based Coleman and her collaborative team of glass blowers and sculptural fabricators.

Direktorenhaus offers a meditative setting for the spatial dialogue that terrariums of an artful variety command. Jette consists of a teardrop volume suspended from a helium-inflated weather balloon that drifts freely across one gallery room, allowing the encapsulated cacti to sail an uncharted and buoyant course. Despite the typically fragile nature of glass in flight, the balloon itself cushions the terrarium's impact on surrounding wall and floor surfaces.

The Fabrik forms are constructed out of stalactite-like paper cones with tapered glass tips, which create what the designer refers to as a "terrarium factory'" environment. The ceiling's dripping overhang mimics the miniature succulent garden below. Bold accents of colored sand anchor the arrangements of transparent volumes, a counterpoint to the dreamy and seemingly cool atmosphere.

This is the first time that the designer has attempted to find a way to make her tabletop terrariums interactive in the sense that the viewer can now observe a piece move through space, as with the artist's Jette installation and the terrarium's suspension from a weather balloon. The Fabrik floor arrangement is intended to offer freer inspection and examination – primarily as a way to involve the viewer to participate in the laboratory or "factory" like environment of the ceiling pieces dripping overhead to create the globular glass shapes below.

In the spirit of the Direktorenhaus curatorial mission of melding contemporary art, traditional craft, and digital technology, it seems fitting that Lítill terrariums would venture into both poetic and scientific territory to test the interdisciplinary laboratory setting of one of Berlin's most dynamic art and design spaces. With the Spree river and old harbor just beyond the gallery windows, floating and being transported in a manner that tugs on the void is perhaps one of the more surprising aspects of hovering freely while remaining rooted in pure volume.

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