Los Angeles's Manuel Acosta and Heather Pando Make Sculptural Botanical Creations

By Lauren Matthews March 9, 2012, 12:00 PM EST

Photo: Kat Borchart for BizBash

When botanical and event designer Krislyn Meyer-Komarov closed Krislyn Design Studio to focus exclusively on art direction and fine art commissions, Manuel Acosta and Heather Pando didn’t want to stop creating the studio’s signature sculptural, botanical objects and installations. So with Meyer-Komarov’s blessing, her protégé of nine years and creative director of seven years, respectively, launched Little World Design in June 2010.

Acosta and Pando similarly avoid using fresh flowers in favor of creating long-lasting custom decor pieces crafted from preserved natural materials, like branches, seed pods, feathers, moss, stones, linen, and even real butterfly wings. A twisted manzanita branch topped with blue feathers looks like a bonsai tree dreamed up by Dr. Seuss, while pieces of reclaimed wood blooming with hand-carved balsa wood flowers are like a Tim Burton creation: whimsical and slightly macabre. “We aim to blend the surreal with the natural,” says Pando, who describes their aesthetic as boundary-crossing and thought-provoking.

Little World Design’s objets d’art can function as gift items or as centerpieces for social and corporate events. While the partners collaborate on the look of each design, Pando functions as the creative director, working with clients. Acosta focuses on creating and executing their work, which ranges from event decor to à la carte projects, like a recent installation of suspended bronze mica and painted rocks around an eight-foot tree at the Solair, a luxury condo on Wilshire Boulevard.

“For events, we usually make table arrangements or a big entryway piece—items that designers can pick up and move around,” Pando says. “We can also create larger scale permanent installations for venues or businesses.” Smaller tabletop tree sculptures can go for around $200, while a nine-foot installation could cost as much as $6,000. “Everything is custom made on a project-by-project basis, but we do have a few pieces in our studio that we could rent out to a client on a tight budget,” Pando says.

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