Utopia by Bohinc Studio is a collection of immersive, functional sculptures made from cork, located in Miami’s Design District.
After being awarded Miami Design District’s 2023 annual design commission, London-based artist and designer Lara Bohinc revealed her winning concept in October before it physically opened ahead of Design Miami and Miami Art Week earlier this month. Titled Utopia, the immersive installation takes place within the public realm and at the entrance to the collectible design fair, featuring a selection of ‘other-worldly’ functional sculptures for passers-by to enjoy. Created with the intention of provoking thoughts around sustainable urban living, each piece is made from cork and finished in a palette of ethereal pastel hues paying homage to Miami’s architectural flair.
The four installations allude to the spontaneous forms of living organisms, with bulbous, mushroom-like silhouettes appearing from the ground. While exuding a sense of mystery, they also possess a friendly dynamism offering spaces to sit and assemble as well as corresponding with neighbouring flora, fauna, and architecture. The installations include outdoor seating, tables, and sculptural lighting as well as 900 egg-shaped birdhouses positioned on tree branches as shade and shelter for local wildlife. Mirroring the form of the birdhouses is ‘Beginning’ – a giant egg-shaped centrepiece placed within one of the installations giving children the opportunity to use it as a playhouse or hideout. “The idea of a single egg or cell as the beginning of these life forms was the basis for the development of the shapes and visual identity of Utopia,” states Bohinc when discussing the project – the studio’s first public commission in the US.
Responding to the commission’s brief, Bohinc’s exploration of sustainability is demonstrated in her use of cork with it being a renewable, natural material that is harvested using only the bark of the tree. With its inherent waterproof qualities, the material is also an ideal choice for outdoor installations such as this. “As the installation questions how we can better engage and integrate with the natural world, cork was the perfect selection,” Bohinc continues to say while explaining how they were milled from cork blocks using 5D robotic milling machines before being finished by hand. “It also questions how nature might reward us in turn.”
While these playful sculptures ignite joy through their rounded forms and tactile surfaces, the deeper narrative leaves one feeling hopeful and positive that a harmony can be restored between people and planet. As Bohinc explores materiality and function, it is another example of how art can be harnessed as a positive force for change. Through meaningful installations which address current challenges and topics, it inspires us all to reconsider our own interactions with nature and the importance of commitment as we strive towards a brighter future for all.
Utopia remains on display until mid-2024 while the limited-edition creations can be purchased here.
Imagery courtesy of Bohinc Studio and Kate Martin.