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Architect-turned-designer, Vera Purtscher of VERA PURE, discusses the design philosophy behind her elegant and ergonomic cutlery collection, Moonlashes.
Austrian-Swiss architect and designer Vera Purtscher developed a love of cutlery when she “fell in love” with Joseph Hoffman’s collection while she was a student in Vienna. After saving up two months salary, she splurged on the famous silver cutlery—but could only afford four pieces at the time. While Hoffman’s pieces were admittedly beautiful, Vera found that “functionality was sacrificed for aesthetics” and the cutlery was less than ideal for eating.
With “form follows function” in mind, Vera set out to design her own collection that would make the act of consuming food both comfortable and elegant. “Sometimes cutlery is good for the eyes, but not good for the hands. The only reason to have cutlery…is to help with [the act of] eating,” she told Culture Trip in a phone interview. “The main important thing [in dining] is of course the wonderful dish and the cook, and of course what nature is giving to us [in the food]. But my aim was to make the most comfortable cutlery for the hands.”
At first the collection started out as a series of drawings, without any expectations of the designs becoming a reality. But a chance meeting with the owner of the infamous Alessi “Design Factory” led to the first prototypes of the collection, and subsequently part of the famous metaproject Alessi Memory Containers.
“Dr. Alberto Alessi said I should send him drawings. I was really astonished, because I told him ‘I’m just an architect’ and he said ‘Okay, that doesn’t matter. So many people didn’t study product design.’”
Her background in architecture proved a seamless transition into the design world: “All the rules for architecture are also valid for design: it has to do with function, ergonomics, surfaces, light, materials, money, sustainability. It’s so very, very similar. I’ve always called my designs ‘nomadic little architectures’ because when you like them and you change your apartment, you take them with you,” she said.
Part of any creative endeavor—whether it’s writing, painting, or product design—is knowing when to put the work aside and let it breathe for a while before coming back to revise. “What I love so very much about design is that you work on prototypes,” Vera revealed. “I work on one and then I try to make it better. I can improve here and there, and try it out, but sometimes you don’t know if it’s good or not. So I put it in a corner, wait, and then look at it again with new eyes. I cannot do that with architecture.”
Even the name for the collection has its roots in a poetic vision of the world, and captures the whimsical quality inherent in the designs. “There are some days in the months where the moon is very very narrow, like a little line in the sky. When you are losing a lash from your eyes, if you look carefully, you’ll see it’s a free curve. I wanted to combine the two words: the moon and the lash,” she explained.
But the collection was also partially inspired by the world famous sculpture Bird in Space: “When I created my first drawing for the soup, I had a little smile on my face because I thought ‘Oh! It’s little Brancusi’,” she laughed.
Moonlashes features 19 pieces and come with left and right-handed spoons and forks. “Of course it’s always my aim to make beautiful things. I do not like to throw things away or spoil the resources of our planet. So I try to create things in architecture and design that have the chance to live and survive for a long, long period of time.”