Most vases celebrate everything that sprouts upward (stems, leaves and flowers) but London-based Ilex Studio designs glassware that emphasizes the beauty of what’s below, too. From their debut product, the Acorn Vase, to the elegant new Avocado Vase, the brand encourages appreciation of an entire plant and green growth at home. Both vases act as a visually pleasing incubator, and the plant that stretches from within can one day take soil. The Acorn Vase requires a germinated acorn and the Avocado Vase needs a germinated avocado seed. This can be any acorn or avocado seed, as Ilex’s thoughtful guidebooks instruct owners on how to germinate their own seeds.
“The Avocado Vase is constructed to hold an avocado seed snugly in place, keeping it dry as the roots descend into the water below,” Ilex founder Ed Spurr says. “The spherical form allows the roots to flourish freely, stabilizing the plant within the vase and creating a stronger base for eventual replanting in soil. The specifically designed glass has a magnifying function, enabling you to see clearly how the roots develop day by day before your eyes.”
Ilex’s design concept stems from the art world. During Spurr’s time in NYC, working at Matthew Marks Gallery, he became transfixed by the lesser-known plant drawings by artist Ellsworth Kelly. “These are observations of the form of leaves or flowers or fruit—their contour drawn in clean strokes of pencil or pen and centered on the page,” he explains. “For the celebratory dinner, after the opening of the [Kelly] exhibition, we wanted to decorate the tables appropriately, so with my girlfriend, we went through the catalogue and found each plant which Ellsworth had depicted. We arranged each specimen in individual small vases for each table. It was that moment that I understood the power of having a single branch to observe a plant’s beauty and form.”
After Spurr moved back to London, he learned that acorns could grow in water and inspiration struck once again. “London has so many wonderful trees growing in its parks. I was always in awe of the monumental historic oaks, some over 1000 years old, and the adage ‘Tall oaks from little acorns grow.’ We gathered acorns and soon perfected the technique to get them to germinate, but saw that the key to growing a healthy oak in water was that one needed a vessel that would hold the acorn out of [the] water, keeping the seed dry.” Spurr then tested vases of various shapes and sizes before fabricating one that allowed the roots to flourish, the water to remain oxygenated and all to see the growth. Appropriately, avocados seemed like the next natural step. And the Avocado Vase highlights the beauty of nature for design enthusiasts, green thumbs and beginners alike.
Images courtesy of Ilex Studio