written by:
May 28, 2012

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.

Fabrik installation by Lauren Coleman
A new exhibit, Jette and Fabrik, by Lauren Coleman at Direktorenhaus Berlin.
Courtesy of 
Lauren Coleman
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Terrarium stalactites by Lauren Coleman
Terrarium "stalactites" by Lauren Coleman nurture both succulents and handblown glass techniques in her Fabrik installation at Direktorenhaus Berlin. Coleman, a Brooklyn-based artist, is inspired by her upbringing in the desert landscape of Southern California. Her foray into designing handblown glass terrariums was informed by her early days working in the floral industry and her subsequent desire to create sustainable alternatives to cut flower and perishable arrangements. Coleman makes a point of highlighting certain handcrafting techniques in  collaborations with the artists and craftspersons that she choses to work with – specifically in the form of knitted and woven toppers for her hanging terrariums. The earliest Litill pieces were exhibited locally in California, and the line has since expanded to include collaborations with artisans throughout the United States, specifically in Portland and Brooklyn. Coleman sells her small to x-large terrariums (including hanging pieces) from $200 to $800 US dollars.
Courtesy of 
Lauren Coleman
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Fabrik installation by Lauren Coleman
Coleman's Fabrik installation suggests a "terrarium factory" environment with "stalagmite" pieces that take shape on the gallery floor.
Courtesy of 
Lauren Coleman
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Succulent Garden by Lauren Coleman
Detail of a succulent garden in miniature sustained by the low-maintenance environment of a desert plant terrarium by Lítill.
Courtesy of 
Lauren Coleman
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Lítill in the Jette installation by Lauren Coleman
A helium-filled weather balloon transports a handblown terrarium by Lítill in the Jette installation. Coleman's Jette and Fabrik installations occupy two separate rooms at Direktorenhaus in central Berlin. The large weather ballon that carries a knit rope suspended Litiil terrarium from side to side across the length a gallery room is helium-filled and serves as a new experiment for the artist in terms of in animating these formerly fixed tabletop pieces. This is the designer's first exhibition in Europe, following her successful window installation projects at  E.R. Butler & Co. in Soho, Trina Turk in NYC's Meatpacking District as well as at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs and other design venues. 
Courtesy of 
Lauren Coleman
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Lítill in the Jette installation by Lauren Coleman
Terrarium and cacti in flight as the weather balloon catches a breeze in the Jette installation at Direktorenhaus Berlin.
Courtesy of 
Lauren Coleman
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Fabrik installation by Lauren Coleman
View of Fabrik installation by Lauren Coleman with paper cones, glass "stalactites" and terrarium "stalagmites" in the gallery space at Direktorenhaus Berlin.
Courtesy of 
Lauren Coleman
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Fabrik installation by Lauren Coleman
A new exhibit, Jette and Fabrik, by Lauren Coleman at Direktorenhaus Berlin.

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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