Maker Monday: An ASPIRE Exclusive Interview With Sandra Vlock

With a concept starting off as an intuitive sketch, Sandra Vlock is able to take her ideas and bring them to life. She is constantly inspired by nature’s landscape involving the ocean, the desert, and everything in between. The pieces she designed for Studio Vlock include repurposed mooring buoys to become fire vessels (fireballs) using sustainable materials such as steel plates to create gates, lanterns and fire screens. Sandra’s unique narrative style inspires gathering and memorable experiences. Introducing this week’s Maker Monday, Sandra Vlock.

The ‘Maritime Magic’ Fireball is located on the Connecticut shoreline. The whimsical design of this antique steel mooring buoy captures the Maritime environment: seabirds, boats and rolling waves.

Andrew Joseph: Describe your design style as if you were explaining it to someone who cannot see.
Sandra Vlock: My natural “hand” or design style is just how I see and imagine the world around me. It comes from within. My imagery is story-like; vignettes observed in nature, a secret world of details to discover. The immediacy of a sketch is what inspires my work—on paper or in steel. My design style is authentic and captures the essence of things.

Andrew: What is something you hope to see trending in design in the future?
Sandra: Hand-crafted. Authenticity. Understanding (and valuing) the creative process as a way for people to connect with the art and the artist.

Andrew: If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Sandra: That’s easy: to fly! Or to easily inhabit the underwater world without fear or gear. I am always looking to discover other ways of seeing.

This is the artist’s own backyard. The fireball is a destination for family and friends to gather.

Andrew: If you weren’t a designer, you’d be ….?
Sandra: A great Listener. I have honed my skills interpreting aspirations (what people say and feel) into physical spaces and places that have meaning. That always begins with listening and listening well.

Andrew: What are three words to describe where you live?
Sandra: Village. Shoreline. Nature

Andrew: What’s something you always travel with?
Sandra: Sketchbook, smudgeable soft charcoal pencils and felt tip pens, pastels or watercolor—always! Whatever fits easily into a backpack. Running shoes.

Andrew: How would you describe your personal style?
Sandra: I love to run and be active, so my “look” reflects this lifestyle. Casual and unstudied. Running shoes over heels!

The Turtle Play Fireball is inspired by the underwater habitat of Bermuda — sea turtles, jellyfish seahorses and sand dollars.

Andrew: What would your dream project or dream client be right now?
Sandra: Collaboration is what excites me and sparks my creativity. I love an iterative process; sharing ideas and experiences with other people. As an architect, I’ve been very fortunate to have many wonderful clients over the years for all kinds of projects—private homes, museums and galleries, municipal and university work. Practicing now as an artist designing sculpture and landscape installations is, by choice, collaborative work. Being part of a creative team is what I look for in a “dream project or client.” Right now, and really for the first time, I am my own client with two talented creative partners developing an old equestrian ranch property in La Quinta, CA. as a retreat and event destination. This really is the whole package: collaboration (check), architecture (check), and functional/sculptural work of my own design that will be integrated throughout the property to create a sense of place and connection to nature (check, check, check).

Andrew: What are three things you can’t live without?
Sandra: Running, sketching, nature…there’s more!

This desert-themed lantern is made from a repurposed vintage steel fishing float.

Andrew: How would you define your work in three words?
Sandra: Imaginative, joyful and evocative.

Andrew: What’s inspiring you in life (in the industry) right now?
Sandra: Change, and the opportunity to think about what I am doing and why. I have always felt that there’s magic and opportunity in the “blank piece of paper”. There’s definitely risk in taking the initiative—the first mark on paper, a change in direction, the unknown…but the reward is a sense of freedom and adventure. When I shifted my practice from architecture to fine art, I was looking for ways to bring these worlds together. Adapting to this new world of physical distancing makes each of us seriously value personal connection—the human element. I am inspired to use my skills as both artist and architect designing sculptural installations to engage people and contribute to their well-being and happiness.

About The Maker | As an architect of contemporary architectural design, who is now working as an artist, Sandra Vlock’s focus is to engage people in a shared experience; capturing an authentic sense of place, context and narrative. Vlock views the integration of fine art and architectural elements as a natural evolution of that vision; one that enables Vlock to design evocative steel sculptures that inspire memorable experiences and create unique environments for social gathering, quiet reflection, and visual delight. Find out more about her work by visiting STUDIO VLOCK.

Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine. See more of his work here

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ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME is seeker and storyteller of the sublime in living. It is a global guide to in-depth and varied views of beauty and shelter that stirs imagination; that delights and inspires homeowners as well as art and design doyens. Collaborating with emergent and eminent architects, artisans, designers, developers and tastemakers, ASPIRE creates captivating content that savors the subjects and transports with stunning imagery and clever, thought-provoking writing. Through lush and unique visuals and a fresh editorial lens, ASPIRE explores what is new and undiscovered in art, interiors, design, culture, real estate, travel and more. ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME is an international narrative and resource for all seeking the sublime.