Honduran botanical artist Lutfi Janania knows how to create opulence using distinguished dry and dehydrated natural materials that convey a sense of multiple spaces between life, the divine, and ourselves. Creating these magical designs from his Brooklyn studio, the queer creator pushes boundaries with his handcrafted sculptures through his design studio, Rosalila, which showcases and sells his most recent works. @lufti_janania
Out sat down with the designer to talk about what inspires his artistry. Check out a selection of his work below.
This story is part of Out's 2021 Pride Issue. The issue is out on newsstands on June 1, 2021. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe — or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.
Out: What drew you to botanical design?
Lutfi Janania: I’ve been surrounded by nature for as long as I can remember. I was fortunate to grow up in a bio reserve in Honduras and was able to be in touch with this kind of beauty firsthand. This luscious, tropical environment was the backdrop of my childhood and informed my ongoing sense of curiosity. I spent hours in the adventurous rainforest, falling in love with the natural curves and unusual shapes of the trees and flowers in my backyard. I found beauty in the unexpected — in what was alive and what was no longer. As a queer person growing up in a conservative country, I was able to create my own universe through the fantasy of the natural world.
It wasn’t until I decided to leave the fashion industry that I discovered botanical design as an art form. It all happened very organically. I was styling for editorial shoots and using flowers as accents and backdrops and realized that my passion for creating fantasy through experiences could be harnessed through botanical design. One thing led to another and I founded my design studio, Rosalila (Rosalila.co). Today we work with botanicals and flora to create objects, sculptures, and installations.
What inspires your work?
My inspiration is rooted in nature, always. That is where it starts, and then I begin to create new worlds. For me, fantasy and experience drive everything we do. Even as a child, I always sought to explore something new and outside of my day-to-day life, perhaps out of survival, but that ultimately led me to this creative exercise. I want my work to evoke emotion, whether that’s joy or longing or sorrow, and to capture memories through physicality. The otherworldly pieces are meant to be a portal to another world, a surreal one — a new place entirely that is romantic, adventurous, and unlike anything you’ve experienced before.
My time in the fashion industry was hugely informative to my process, both in terms of inspiration and execution. Through fashion, I learned construction, color, and texture, all of which are crucial elements to my work.
What are you most excited about in the coming year?
The past year and several months have been incredibly challenging. To put it simply, I’m looking forward to continuing to create objects and sculptures that will live in people’s homes across the world. I see it as a way of sharing my vision and passion for beauty, inviting people to experience my fantasy world. That is indeed very real for me. I have several projects in progress and the studio has never been busier, so I am deeply fortunate to be looking towards the future with optimism and enthusiasm for what’s ahead.
Janania: This sculpture, to me, is the very essence of what we do at Rosalila. With hand-preserved botanicals, manzanita wood branches, and crystals, the piece explores negative space, grandeur, and fantasy with an emotional connection. I’m really proud of the collaboration that went into it. I worked with a family-owned fabricator in Queens to create the Italian rainforest marble base and a metalworker in Brooklyn to weld the brass stand before creating the botanical work in our studio. Photography by @ojeras.pm
Janania: What I love about this piece is its versatility. As one of our core offerings for interior design clients, the Corallia is available in three sizes, depending on the client’s space and budget. It was born out of our partnership with the Rockaway Hotel and is an exploration into the main inspirations I take from my home in Honduras. The pumice base reflects the beaches of my town, while the dehydrated grasses represent the lush vegetation. Photography by @maksimaxelrod
Janania: Creating a new world is a constant exercise in my work. For me, the mirror looks to provide the viewer the ability to be in touch with their own fantasy. It is a portal to another world but also a reflection of what’s inside the viewer from their own eyes. The exuberance of the palm leaf fibers aims to frame the viewer with a sense of joy and curiosity, something that I often try to evoke across my body of work. Photography by @equatorproductions. Housed by @ashya.co