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Finding Inspiration: Foraging as a Design Practice

A Collaboration with Convivial
& Matt Castilleja

The floral world is generally one of collaborations. Flowers transport you into a seasonal display for the senses that can harmoniously combine nature with the interior styling of any space. This past May, Matt Castilleja, founder of Castilleja, asked us to take part in his exhibition at the Midwest Design and Furniture Fair in Downtown Kansas City, to accompany his new collection of contemporary sculptural furniture.

We partnered with our parent company, Convivial Production, to design found floral arrangements in our ceramic wares.

Searching for Inspiration:
The Castilleja collection “breathes life” into “experiences, textures, memories and places” from the last few years. Castilleja’s design ethos reflects on Matt’s personal struggle to “find home” and how, within the struggle, there were many moments of “finding peace, feeling inspired and staying comfortable while remaining flexible.”

As the furniture designs came into light, we also searched for our own inspiration to accompany the themes of flexibility, balance and sustainability. Many of Castilleja’s design elements include materials already in their fabrication studio, reimagined as a new collection. With this in mind, we decided to see what was in our own backyard to use as materials in the upcoming exhibition.

While the earth breaks the soft horizon
eastward, we study how to deserve
what has already been given us.
From "Love in the Country” by William Stafford

Foraging in the Countryside:
Searching for flowers and fruits, or “foraging,” allows a meditative approach to floral designing. Walking through the prairie-like landscape outside of Kansas City, we foraged quite the collection– Wild Iris, Forsythia Foliage, Wild Rose, Autumn Olive, Columbine, and Big Bluestem Grass. We paired two of our favorite locally grown tulip varieties, La Belle Epoque Tulip and Black Hero Tulip with these foraged specimens in our final designs. Foraging for materials creates a naturalistic look and grounds the design as a snapshot of the season.

Craftsmanship and Collaboration:
From Matt’s artist statement—
“The pieces have gentle curves, with flat planes standing in silhouette with those same curves. The materials have a sense of balance and stability, but are airy in nature and plush, not encumbered by detail or structure.”

The final showcase included a collection of Convivial Production ceramics, candles, and wild, arching flower arrangements. Not only “just beautiful flowers”, these designs acted as an intentional practice for us to be reminded of the land, the beauty that surrounds us, and the fulfilling act of collaborating with others to create something larger than life.

Castilleja’s exhibition included Kansas City design trailblazers Castilleja, Porter Teleo, Blackbird Collection, Jennifer Walker Studio and Dimensional Stone Works. You can view Castillleja’s collections here:

Curious to work with our design team? Reach out! We’d love to hear from you and see how we can continue to share beautiful, intentional work in Kansas City.