Time & Space is a journal series exploring creation, human connection and intimate spaces.
Botanical artist Lutfi Janania draws inspiration for his surreal natural creations from his memories as a boy in Honduras. His fascinating sculptures are as warm and as vibrant as his personality. He graciously welcomed us into his Brooklyn space, home to his design studio Rosalila. Amidst an array of gardening tools and mood boards intermingled with fresh flowers, Lutfi shared his creative journey from fashion stylist to botanical sculptor.
Where does the name Rosalila come from?
My upbringing in Honduras and the proximity of family informs everything I do, and the name of the studio is no different. Many of the women in my family, including my mother, sister, and both grandmothers were named after flowers. I used their names to craft a moniker that references my personal past and the rich Honduran heritage I come from.
You’ve created a unique way of storytelling through botanicals. Were there any obstacles that you had to endure before starting Rosalila and what encouraged you to overcome those feelings?
Pursuing a dream is always challenging but the unknown places you find yourself in and the experiences you have and all gratifying learning experiences. Business can be bumpy and changing careers, as I did, can seem incredibly daunting. One of the lessons I learned early on with Rosalila was to keep venturing forward and seek new understanding, because you never know where the turns will take you. That curiosity was less of an obstacle and more of a catalyst to found the studio, but I think when you’re in a creative field, the real challenge can be to pick a path and stay confident and driven in that direction.
Moving from Honduras to New York. How has your work evolved in this environment?
My career started in the fashion industry in New York, which was hugely informative to my process. While I never pursued this kind of creative work while I was living in Honduras, I was constantly curious and creating things as a child, often not even realizing it. Honduras remains a major source of inspiration for my work and I love the fact it can remain rooted in my memory, versus my day-to-day life in New York.
"One of the lessons I learned early on with Rosalila was to keep venturing forward and seek new understanding, because you never know where the turns will take you."
Can you describe an early experience that has shaped your connection with the earth and your dreamlike sculptures?
When I was a boy, I would spend hours daydreaming while walking the Mayan ruins in Copan. I grew up in a bioreserve in Honduras, located in the skirts of mountains as green and vivacious as a rainforest.The lush nature is literally Jurassic in size, they hold an ecosystem. The trees tower over my house and provide habitat for a variety of vibrant tropical birds and giant variegated monsteras and other plants which climb and drape all over their entirety. All of these visuals are imbued in my memory and create that connection between the typical and the atypical in terms of natural forms.
Do you have any rituals that have helped you escape in a way that is fulfilling to you? Morning rituals, self affirmation, shrine?
Honestly, my morning routine has truly become a ritual that I rarely veer from. It starts with a steamy shower and ends with piling on vintage accessories. For me, it is a way to escape and focus my thoughts in preparation for the day ahead and the physical world I’m about to enter.
You had initially moved to New York to be a stylist and organically Rosalila studios was born. When did the pleasure of styling transform into your desire for botanical design?
The transition from fashion to botanical design happened very organically. I was working in fashion and styling shoots where I would often use flowers as props. I began to experiment more and more until I realized I was referencing something that was so important to me, my heritage. Over time I realized I could create a world where sculpture, design, and florals could intersect and provide people with a similar experience to what I had as a child.
Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in starting their own creative studio or project?
Just go for it. You’ll never be more confident about a concept than the moment it pops into your head. The longer you wait, the more self doubt creeps in and you risk losing out on the opportunity to chase the dream.
What do you want people to feel when they experience your installations?
I hope my installations convey emotions, feelings and sensations. The works, when compiled together, are intended to generate sorrow, curiosity, anticipation and longing. In stirring such emotions, the environment begins to take shape and the life within the work becomes evident. The dried, dehydrated material is not just preserved, it's persevering and actively creating, still. What appears to be dead is very much alive. With this sentiment, each sculpture becomes a portrait of renewal, and of the moment in which we allow ourselves the permission to evolve.
What is one thing that you would like for people to know about you or Rosaslila Studios?
Rosalila Studios was born out of a way to create fantasy, to transform a dream into reality. That’s who we are, and we welcome everyone who shares that belief.