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Recently, SIRAK unveiled a collection of high-end sculptural planters with geometric details, inspired by the power that plants embody to transform a space. Aimed at showcasing plants as living sculptures, the made-to-order vessels were created with restrained and elegant shapes, customizable in color, texture, and material.
Whitewall spoke with Sirak to learn more about how his practice is impacted by his relationship with nature, what his Los Angeles home and studio are like, and what we may expect from his upcoming launch with The Future Perfect.
WHITEWALL: Prior to creating your own design studio, you worked in fashion. How did that impact your approach to the industry?
ADAM SIRAK: My years in the fashion industry were really formative. Fashion is all about creating desire through illusion and imbuing inanimate objects and spaces with almost magical qualities. I started my own label because I wanted to find my voice. But I had a hard time squaring my desire to make things with the illusion part and it quickly started to seem meaningless. So, I moved to Los Angeles to reinvent myself and started working in my own garden. I realized I could apply all the things I learned in fashion to this new craft and everything just seemed to click.
WW: What ambiances does SIRAK aim to evoke with its exterior and landscape design projects?
AS: Each project that we take on is an expression of the architecture and the client. The aim is to transform the experience the client has of their home so it largely centers around how they want to feel. Then I take those clues and channel it through my lens and pump up the wattage. Gardens have this special power to transport people so I’m always asking “where is it you want to go?” Someone very dear to me told me once that the boldest idea will always win. That has always stuck with me and it’s been a guiding principle since I started my practice. There’s nothing more depressing than some ficus hedges and a lawn.
WW: How does being based in Los Angeles impact your practice?
AS: Los Angeles is a fantasy land of architectural styles. There’s an exaggeration that exists which I think stems from Hollywood and all the illusions of this town. My work is partly about telling stories around that architecture and each new project is a chance to create another fantasy. The fantasy is a place in the sun and the life that represents. Then there are the plants of course. Everyone says that anything grows here—that’s not actually true—but Southern California does support three distinct plant palettes. Some would argue more. It’s the overlapping of these palettes that create the most dynamic gardens. If you know what you’re doing you can tell some very compelling stories.
WW: What is your personal relationship like with nature? How does that infiltrate your professional work?
AS: My most inspiring moments come from long backpacking excursions through our National Parks. California boasts nine Parks so there are endless options locally. I see and understand nature on those trips in the deepest, most spiritually profound ways. I then try to take that back and apply it on a micro scale at clients’ homes.
WW: You recently launched a collection of high-end sculptural planters with a very modern and geometric feel. Why?
AS: Simply put, a plant can transform a room. It has qualities that no other element or piece of furniture has but you rarely see plants in sophisticated environments and that’s mostly because there is nothing to put them in. So I designed them to display plants as living sculptures. Even if you don’t have the space to have a major garden you can have one or two special plants that you cherish and show off.
WW: You mentioned that "plants are living sculptures" and the vessels you create to hold them are unique with texture and color. How are these created with the plant in mind?
AS: Throughout history civilizations have been placing things on pedestals or alters to signal their importance. One of my objectives was to create vessels that display the plants as something precious, something treasured. The vessel elevates the plant so one can truly observe the intricacies of this living organism - like an invitation to pause and be present. It goes back to that hokey adage “you can witness the Universe in a grain of sand” from the William Blake poem, which ultimately, I believe is true.
WW: What do you hope to tell through the spaces you create?
AS: We focus almost exclusively on residential design and the work is always destination-driven meaning where is the client having dinner, where are you entertaining and where does the pool go. Then, how do we connect all the spaces both functionally and from a construction aspect? And how does the plant material tell the story?
WW: What's seen in your home? Are there any design objects of note?
AS: In terms of decor, Billy Baldwin said, “Comfort is the ultimate luxury. It’s also knowing that if someone pulls up a chair for a talk, the whole room doesn’t fall apart.” I think that’s the best decorating advice I’ve ever read. I’m a Modernist at heart but I also revere the classics which means I’m obsessed with Michael Smith’s work. What’s more modern than being utterly timeless? Not surprisingly, I have a large collection of plants. They’re in every room. I recently bought a beautiful specimen Desert Orchid (Eulophia petersii) native to East Africa. It lives in the breakfast nook. My Tortoise Shell plant (Dioscorea mexicana) is just starting its summer growth cycle so soon the living room mantel will be draped in its vine.
WW: What are you working on this summer?
AS: Later this summer I’m debuting a new series of planters with The Future Perfect. There are ten new shapes that continue the ancient-modern vernacular of the original group yet move it forward with softer lines. We are working on a very interesting hotel project in Joshua Tree. I’m imagining it as native habitat restoration-meets-botanical garden-meets-The Wild West complete with boulder gardens, bioswales, and areas for star-gazing. I’ve also been invited to reimagine the formal gardens of a historic Italianate mansion. This project is a wonderful puzzle of respecting the history—think clipped boxwood parterres while bringing it into the future with an updated plant palette focused on habitats for native pollinators.