Material Tendencies: Arik Levy
Constantly creating, Paris-based designer and artist Arik Levy says that he “thinks with his heart and feels with his brain”. Architonic met up with Tel Aviv-born Levy to share his thoughts on materials, the power of emotions and intelligence, and more.
Anita Hackethal, Architonic: Can you tell us about a recent project of yours and what you were hoping to achieve?
Arik Levy: My job as a designer is to solve an actual problem and provide a springboard to the near future. I’m not interested in just doing a project. I continually want to learn and do something new for myself and for the company. The chair Split for TON, for example, was a great challenge for both sides. Rather than just another fair piece, we wanted to develop something that is innovative, long-lasting, and which differentiates itself from the others.
With a 150-year-old manual bending technology, the company has a good understanding of the limits of wood and the craft. For me, the project was about how to take this past to the future and come up with something new without making a revolution, but an evolution. The journey took nearly two and a half years. We split the wood into two parts and bent each in a different direction. To give it another layer of individual identity, we painted the surface with an airbrush. I’m a passionate windsurfer and had a surf shop in Tel Aviv when I was young. I must have painted about 2,000 surfboards with an airbrush. Bit of a beach bum. (He smiles.)
AH: At what point within the design process do you decide in favour of a specific material?
AL: Every case is specific. Materials are certainly a significant part of the process. For me personally, it is important how the material is made, what I can build with it, what I can change, and how I can put different materials together. Materials have been there for ages; what is new is the way you treat them.
I don’t want to sound too spiritual, but I think materials connect to our body and to our mind. I can close my eyes and feel the energy of stone, the energy of wood. Metal feels like metal, it is radiating ‘I am metal’. If you choose a hard shape, you don’t hurry to sit on it because it is telling you ‘I am hard’, even when it’s made from a soft material. I work with this in both my art and design.
AH: Which material would you choose if you had to restrict yourself to working with just one for the next three years?
AL: Intelligence and emotions. Those are the materials that have the power to create many different things. If you plug in another layer of intelligence in materials and you work with emotion, or reflection in mind, you can interfere positively, and enhance something that will end up being something else. The end materials that we create are at a higher level of sophistication, in terms of their characteristics, than classic materials.
Another material would be affection. A person who wakes up in the morning and has the right amount of affection during the day is a happy person. I think the work reflects that.