Vignettes’ most natural space addresses the environmental crisis.
By Cory Schachtel | March 12, 2019
There’s no escaping change — even when it’s bad. We’ve heard the data and projections for years, and now we’re seeing the early effects around the world: Melting ice caps, droughts and stronger storms. And, here at home, we may have seen our last smokeless summer. We can pretend it’s not real, or we can take the lead from a Vignette that shows what we can do to change it for the better — something we should have been doing all along.
Team Sanctuary — a builder, a painter, a botanical artist and two culinary artists — created Vignettes’ greenest space, both visually and philosophically, to show what anyone, anywhere, can do to live a healthier and more sustainable life. That last part is key. “The ultimate measure of sustainability is: Can a community sustain itself?” says team lead Destani Engel. “If it can, then you can move forward to trying to help globally. But first, let’s start at home.”
With racks of hibiscus, chives, raspberries and mint, and fermenting apples, plums and pears hanging among ferns from the ceiling, it’s Vignettes’ most naturally aromatic space, buttressed by geometric black, yellow and blue paintings that explore the idea of natural cycles, on Earth and among the cosmos. On opening night, the team also served sweet tea, honey-poached pears, edible flowers and pickled potatoes with a caramelized onion puree — all of which was grown by the team or came from just outside Edmonton.
Thanks to biologist and builder Jonathan Luckhurst’s beautiful botanical work, you almost expect to see birds and bees chirping and buzzing among the lush and vibrant germination. “That’s something I really wanted to demystify for people, the concept of growing real vegetables indoors,” he says.
Innovation and politics are crucial to affecting positive change, but the group’s point is that culture is, too. It requires a shift in our values and behavior — on farms, in restaurants and at home. “If we’re going to change how we think about how we produce and how we consume,” Luckhurst says, “this is one way we can do that — by empowering people, and showing them how easy this is, and how much it benefits us.”
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Like the rest of Vignettes Design Series, the space is beautiful and unique. But as an artistic garden in the downtown core in what used to be a bank — every part of which will be sold and reused once the event ends — it’s more than a stylish art project. It represents what the city, and world, could be.
Artistic Director, Fresco Culinary — Destani Engel
Director of Culinary, Fresco Culinary — Michel Nasrabadi