Taking colour and material almost as an accidental consequence, Omer Abel, Creative Director of Bocci, talks about intuition part of design occurring in unexpected contexts of everyday life.
Can you please tell us how your personal and professional stories intersect? How do you connect architecture, design and artistic work in your multi-cultural and multi-national context?
I find little distinction between the personal and the professional. There is a kind of dreamlike quality to life and work that renders distinction almost unnatural. We know that observing something fundamentally changes it. Thus it follows that it may be a mistake to delve too deep into this question.
When I go through your personal website I see that you have categories such as product, free explorations, buildings, performances, editions and interiors. How do you start with your creations and how do they diversify during the process of creation to build these categories
There are several themes in our work. One of them is that we seek form in a material’s intrinsic chemical, physical, or mechanical properties. We try to allow the material we are working with to suggest form. We see ourselves as explorers, seeking to discover from other themes include an obsession with self-organizing patterns, participation in the culture of the many layered studio glass world, and some sort of intuitive trust that light as medium could bring access to deeper emotional truths.
In our earlier conversations you were mentioning that material research and experimentation constitute the core of your design process. How do you choose the material you want to play with? Is it more an intuitive decision or do you already know how to process the material from the beginning, then you choose the material accordingly?
Here we go back to the work/life feedback loop. Quite often, the insights into materials are accidental, and occur within unexpected context of everyday life. Much of our work is in glass, but I never think that glass is my favourite material. It is simply the most accessible material, as we have our own glass atelier and so I am around it a lot. I think in another life if I was around ceramics all the time, for example, our work would be more focused in that direction. It thus follows that I should almost curate my life to include contact with as many different materials and experiences as possible.
What fascinates me about your work is that each of them has a unique story and process merged with innovative technique and artisanal approach. Coming to the form, do you start with something in your mind or is the form a result of process?
We always begin with experimentation, I mean analog experimentation. Somewhere along the way, we stumble upon what we call an “aesthetic discovery”. From there the process becomes more about encouraging the process, focusing on the discovery, allowing it to flourish. We do not know where we are heading when we begin the journey.
Colour is often used in design to attract attention, group elements, indicate meaning and enhance aesthetics. How do apply colour in your work?
I try to think of colour as an almost accidental consequence of circumstance. In my fantasy, people who buy our pieces don’t even get to choose the colours themselves, and neither do I. The glass shop produces whatever colours come to hand and people have to accept them. Of course that doesn’t work with the more widely distributed pieces we make but perhaps it is an idea we can explore in the context of special projects.
Research shows that lighting controls people, their behaviours and emotions. How do you evaluate a good lighting design in a systematic fashion concerning the aesthetic, emotional, and atmospheric tasks it should accomplish?
We try not to evaluate too much. We trust in our intuition.
Both in dance and theatre performances, light plays a tremendous role in developing the plot of performances and evoking emotion within the audience. How do you synchronise intensity, colour, direction, focus and position of light in a performance to create a balanced ambience?
I have had only limited experience in this sphere, but what I did learn is that its useful to think of light as a liquid medium in these kinds of contexts. The stage is like an aquarium filled with water, and we can control its clarity / cloudiness. Our task is to introduce light into the aquarium with virtuosity that corresponds to the performance.
As one of the hot topics of the design industry; how do you integrate sustainable design in your work and company Bocci?
Quite apart from incorporating 'best practices' passive, regenerative systems sustainable thinking, sustainable energy, recycled materials, etc… We believe that producing an extraordinary, culturally relevant project is the most significant sustainable goal our team could aspire to. If we are successful in this, the objects we make propel themselves forward through history, appreciating, rather then depreciating in value. From a sustainability point of view, throwing something away is the single most destructive act; if our objects are never thrown away, instead becoming more valuable and collectible as time goes on, we’ve succeeded.