with Billy Pitta-Gróz
"It’s like entering a meditative state, almost like tabula rasa"
What brought you to working with natural stone, shaping objects and starting VESSEL?
Starting to work with natural stone was a coincidence. I graduated in design and always worked in the area, but in what I consider to be in the opposite side of the spectrum in terms of “substance”, as I focused mainly on the web and digital platforms – the virtual world. I’ve always been interested in knowing how things work, and shaping objects fills in this incessant curiosity and desire to create. My first commission was the development of a lighting fixture made of marble, and it immediately opened up a world of possibilities regarding the use of natural stone in what often are new and uncommon approaches.
VESSEL sums up this never-ending will and need of shaping solutions that meet the highest standards with the use of natural stone.
Can you describe what your creation process typically looks like? How/Where do you find inspiration for the pieces you make?
Usually, one of my objects already caught the eye of the architecture/interior design team or client. In many cases a project that needs specific objects is presented to me, and from there I develop a custom solution that integrates with the projects’ characteristics. Brainstorming with the creative team as a process is something I also enjoy doing, and consider to be useful in many cases: having a series of inputs and exploring and systematizing them in order to output an idea/object. In either case I’m relied upon to develop the technical solutions and manage the production process.
In a more raw approach to the creation process, one that usually doesn’t have a defined project or object, I’d describe it as a sort of meditative state, grasping moments where inspiration can stem from a wide variety of sources: nature, feelings, materiality, something I stumble upon and that catches my attention, even the way the sun may reflect on the ocean at a particular place and time.
"I’d describe it as a sort of meditative state, grasping moments where inspiration can stem from a wide variety of sources: nature, feelings, materiality, something I stumble upon and that catches my attention."
Do you have a favourite part or stage of the work which you like the most? What do you like about it?
One of my favourite stages (apart from the obviously very satisfying conclusion of a project) is the physical shaping of diverse immaterial elements, the beginning of the creation process: I see it as an organic fine line that somehow divides these complementary worlds (the immaterial/conceptual and the tangible) that intercommunicate to give a form to the abstract; this stage often happens even before I start sketching.
What I like about it is the dialogue I establish with these two parts: the emotion/subjectiveness and the dialectics/function; it blends with the ensuing stage, one which I consider to be intrinsically connected with visualisation as things start to crystalise into shapes.
"an organic fine line that somehow divides these complementary worlds (the immaterial / conceptual and the tangible) that inter-communicate to give a form to the abstract."
How do you source the materials you work with? What does the process look like?
It depends, but usually for commission work I go to quarries and/or consult my industry partners – coincidentally, while I’m writing this I’m returning from Italy, where I went to source natural stone for a specific project.
Sometimes it works in the opposite manner: while looking at materials I get inspired to create. I also consider this to be a creation process, observing raw material will surely trigger ideas.
The project’s purpose dictates what the sourcing process looks like: size, shape, of course the material itself; in the case of natural stone, although the type and segmentation are clear, there’s the need to adjust the selection to go accordingly to the object/purpose.
"I also consider this to be a creation process, observing raw material will surely trigger ideas."
What do the materials you work with (stone/marble, wood, etc.) signify for you?
Materials have their own language. I like to examine their characteristics, their weight; find a way to delve into each of them in order to shape and adjust them, either by form or by the way I combine them.
I also like to explore ambivalence, since using the same material with different scales and shapes can for instance turn stone – which is usually associated with hardness and heaviness – into a soft and quasi weightless material. This is one of the reasons why I’m so attracted to working with light/suspended fixtures made of natural stone.
"Materials have their own language. I like to examine their characteristics, their weight; find a way to delve into each of them."
How do you see the relationship between machine work and manual work in what you do?
Regardless of how much technology and machinery I put into the development of an object, the fact that the final steps of the production process inevitably require human/manual work mean the world to me. I find it to be full of significance and almost poetic.
The experienced handcraft and care confer individuality to what I do. Together with the character of uniqueness that working with natural materials involves, the human factor is of the utmost importance in my work.
"The fact that the final steps of the production process inevitably require human/manual work mean the world to me."
"I find it to be full of significance and almost poetic."
What role do concepts like texture, weight, contrast and colour play in your work?
The amalgam of physical characteristics and concepts all work together, along with their deconstruction in order to promote an emotion: a harsh texture that evokes rawness, a light colour that calms and tones things down, thickness to induce weight, roundness that instils softness – they all work in tandem. It’s the fine tuning of each of these elements that I find thrilling when creating something.
"a harsh texture that evokes rawness, a light colour that calms and tones things down, thickness to induce weight, roundness that instils softness..."
Do you have a favourite piece of the ones you’ve made so far? What do you love about it?
Not a favourite. Each one holds its own space in time and meaning.
Be it because of the production complexity, detail and multi-materiality of the Ritz Galleries Reception Desk (in collaboration with Openbook Architecture): India Green Marble, oak and aged brass milimetrically put together; the lightness of the Tout suspended light fixture and expressiveness of its ‘Pele de Tigre’ (Tiger Skin) Marble from Estremoz, which also gives a sculptural feeling to the piece when the light is turned off; or the “F-Lamp” (a portable lamp made of marble and cork) which is the first object I created for VESSEL.
A Practice Proposition
by Billy Pitta-Gróz
– Disconnect to Reconnect –
Disconnecting from the rush and hustle, preferably in the nature, is something that works for me and I really enjoy doing.
As I previously mentioned it’s like entering a meditative state, almost like tabula rasa, getting rid of the mind hustle and gradually reconnecting with a more simple and unfiltered way of absorbing what surrounds me: ocean waves, trees, gentle sounds, textures, smells, light and shadow, temperature… Then slowly start to ponder all these elements, integrating them, filtering, processing and subsequently materialising them into an object.
photos: Eglė Duleckytė