Eliska Turanska was born in Slovakia, and graduated from the Faculty of Architecture, Slovak Technical University, in Bratislava in 2000.
Between 2003 and 2010 she lived and practiced in Athens and it was during this time that she started to develop a deeper interest in natural building materials, which, combined with a personal ethical conviction, led her to specialise in wooden constructions and natural building materials such as straw, natural fibre and clay plasters.
Since she left Greece (in 2011), she has been designing and building ecological architectural projects and working on art and craft creations in interiors that have balanced beauty, craftsmanship, design and sustainability.
Tell us about this latest project near Zadar, Croatia?
This is a summer residence of a Slovak family who love the beauty and ancient history of Zadar. There are two floors with many apartments for the family and their guests. It is located a few meters from one of the biggest yacht ports – Sukošan, and it is just next to the beach.
With individualism fast becoming the design world’s favourite word, you always lead a collaborative team to successfully address this rise in personal expression?
Yes, the architect of this project is my colleague from my university, Andrea Haburajova.
Andrea asked my team and I to create different, individual wall designs in each apartment under an umbrella theme of the Croatian islands. There are around 300 islands in the Zadar region, all surrounded by crystal clear water and each relatively unspoiled and naturally ruggedly beautiful.
The artist Katarina Vasickova and Czech glass designer Denisa Holubova have collaborated on this particular home to create a curative narrative that reflects its unique and natural environmental setting and captures the long, thin swirling shapes of the islands.
As a collaboration, storytelling is integral to our creative process and the combination of materials, architecture and art capture a design sensibility and enrich the spaces with compelling and authentic stories.
Why do I chose to use Clayworks? Well I believe that there are many very good producers of clay plasters even in Slovakia or Czech Republic. But no other material has the elegance of Clayworks. It is like when you compare cotton with velvet. Both of them are very good materials, but velvet looks and is very luxurious. In the same way, Clayworks is a very beautiful and luxurious material that fits in with very modern, non-rustic, spaces.
And I wanted to bring clay plaster to spaces where you maybe don’t expect them. To modern, minimalist, contemporary interiors. The point is in how the rooms feel: things and spaces that feel unique, authentic, natural and healthy are what we want to surround ourselves with right now. In Zadar it is very hot in the summer and the clay plasters help to regulate the temperatures, maintaining a higher degree of comfort.
It is about feeling and creating an atmosphere as well as an aesthetic, and the soft sound and glare absorbing qualities of natural products are particularly good for this.
You not only design do you? You literally ‘roll up your sleeves and go to work?
Yes, I find the process of working with clay plasters and other natural materials extremely therapeutic and calming. I particularly loved creating the Mandala, using a process called ‘sgraffito’ whereby different colour plasters are layered and a form of decoration is created by scratching through a surface to reveal a lower layer of a contrasting colour. The robustness of Clayworks, and the particular properties of clay plasters, where they do not go through a chemical reaction when they set, allows this pure and natural art form to be created as part of a building whereby it will stay forever.