By Regina Connell.
Many artisans tend to fall in love with a single material and never move on from there. And this is good. We’re all for monogamy after all, and it does take time and focus to hone those skills to get to call yourself a real artisan.
But why stop there? Be grateful that Florian Roeper didn’t. This man keeps it interesting, mixing different woods with etched copper and brass, resins, leather and more. Now some will nestle in a piece of brass here, a little stainless there to create a pop, but you don’t necessarily feel the commitment to the marriage of materials, and as a result, it feels less integrated.
Florian interweaves the other materials with the wood to tell stories and create a cohesive whole, and in so doing, almost creates a new material and certainly a new design. The work maintain that warm, live, hand-crafted feel but with an intricacy, stylishness and glamour that is rare in the making community.
Perhaps this penchant for mixing is in his blood: Florian was born in and grew up in Heidelberg, Germany with a German father and Sicilian mother who grew up in Tripoli, Libya. His grandfather was half-Greek. He headed to California for college, graduating from California College of the Arts, starting out in Graphic Design. But he soon got a taste for working in wood, and began to apprentice with an artisan who focused on exterior doors, specializing in the patinated copper, brass, and zinc.
He’d originally been drawn to the idea of creating more sculptural, art-based pieces, but found that the functional work might be more remunerative. He struck out on his own and founded his own studio at Alameda Point, a former naval air station just across the Bay from San Francisco. He found success working with designers and these days works with the likes of Magni in LA, Peter Marino in NY and Carden Cunietti in London.
His inspirations are tellingly broad and deep. They include: “Tuscan Renaissance painters, Biedermeier decorative arts, and milling my own lumber and enjoying each and every grain pattern/color that reveals itself.”
His studio is still in Alameda Point, but took the big step of opening a showroom in San Francisco in April 2015. “After 12 years of design trade shows and art festivals,” Florian said, “I’ve decided that it’s finally time to commit to a brick-and-mortar space. I strongly believe that the collection deserves to be shown and seen in a permanent setting.” The space is lofty but sophisticated and affords him the opportunity to bring art back into the equation with a series of mixed media pieces that are part of a collection called High as a Kite.
This all comes at a time when his work is focusing itself, though still with his signature fusion of materials. “My studio is a laboratory in which I am constantly experimenting with color, materials, textures, and finishes. It seems as I’m evolving as a designer/maker that I am gravitating more and more towards simpler designs. So the key question for me is always “how can I simplify this idea, yet maintain a certain degree of sophistication, and not lose the sense of the maker’s hand?”
First appeared on DxV.