After years working in architecture and design in New York, a pandemic pivot landed Luis Ignacio Figallo and Patrisa Pruthi in Miami with a most original niche. The two friends decided it was time to rethink their careers and pursue their personal creative interests with BAS Atelier, an artisanal design practice focused on custom sculptural reliefs.
“Bas-relief is recorded as one of the earliest artistic expressions by humankind, [dating as far back as] 30,000 years ago,” says Pruthi. “We’ve transformed this classic technique into an art form that evokes a contemporary yet timeless aesthetic of our time, and one that speaks to our style.”
Textured, three-dimensional studies in abstraction, Figallo’s and Pruthi’s pieces are inspired by natural and architectural forms, and each begins with a highly intuitive process of freehand sketches that are later refined into the final form. The physical creation of each begins with a sketched pattern that’s etched and carved into recycled wood panels. Once a rough carving is complete, each piece is carefully hand-sanded and smoothed out before plastering. They are then treated with a protective coating before each is hand-painted with natural plaster-based limewash pigments. Light is of particular importance to this process. “Our work comes alive by the natural shifts of light and shadow throughout the day,” says Pruthi. “Every time we make a new piece, the first thing we do is position it on an angle to the sun and see all our handcrafting and the layers of the plaster paint that are revealed with the reflection. That’s different every time.”
BAS Atelier’s painstakingly detailed approach has won them multiple fans in the design community since its launch last year. As for what’s next, both founders hope to soon venture into large-scale public art installations and sculptural walls in outdoor venues. “We are inspired by many different styles of work and have interest in exploring a range of techniques and outcomes,” says Figallo. “We are driven by our intense curiosity and will definitely explore other design mediums.”
Text by Luis R. Rigual