Cosentino CTop Designers

Arik Levy


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“Design has an explanation. Art does not. That differentiates the two”

What made you change the surf board for design and living in Europe?

Actually I am a beach bum, as you know. I didn’t really change surf boards for art or design, because it was my first support, I was painting on the surf board because I had to make a living and I needed to paint at the same time. So, apart from that, I had my art studio and I had my design work and surf boards were where the surfers were, I was surfing, and working and devel-oping. Coming to Europe was to a) follow my heart, which is the most important part, and the second is to enrich my knowledge, my experiences, meet other cultures, meet other people.

Your work has been recognized all over. You spent some time in Switzerland, also in Japan… now you live in France, and you were born in Israel. What is home for you?

Home is where I am. At least that’s what I like to think it is. My family, my close family, my kids, my wife, we live in Paris. The nuclear family lives away, but this is if you look back into history. I like to go to the same places, because I have so little routine in my daily life, I like to have a sort of a static thing.

Having travelled the world so much. Would you say design is global?

The word design as it is, doesn’t have a meaning anymore, because everything from tooth paste to hairspray, and to an iron, or to a chair is called design, so I think there’s a new definition. But what is global is thinking. We have to think, design as a science, science of everyday life, science of living, science of society, science of culture, science of earth, science of raw materials, and so on. This is global, and this is specific to all of us.

Art, design .. how far apart are they from each other?

Art and design are very different, they are, the initial starting point is from a completely different intellectual departure. You don’t make art for the same reasons. Design
has a brief, art does not have a brief. Art has a necessity. Both of them can be an uncontrolled muscle. Only design needs an ignition, somebody has to come and tell you we need this, we need that and than you ask questions and you do what you
do as a methodology. And in the art you wake up in the middle of the night and you have to do it because you have to do it, because if you are not going to do it, you are going to have to spend more time with the psychotherapist.
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“The word design doesn’t have a meaning anymore. It needs to be redefined”

You have a multidisciplinary approach, how do you define your profession? Is design just one of the many ways you have to express your creativity?

I don’t know if I have a profession. I have a way of life, I have things that I have to do and I have things that I like to do. May be I would say I am a tecno-poet or I am an industrial artist or I am an artist of life or father or mother… one of this.

You mentioned somewhere that you like rules so that you can avoid them? What is the point?

It is not really avoiding them, avoiding rules, but actually go around them. When you know the limitation, you know how to go beyond it. You can at least imagine and plan and project long term how to go. If you don’t know the rules, you don’t know the rules you don’t know where they are, where the border is so you cannot go beyond. My interest is not to keep on running in the same court. My interest is to take my partner who ever it is, life partner, business partner, intellectual partner, and run beyond and go to the court I have never been before.

Is function a must when designing?

Absolutely. Function is a must, but we need to define function, otherwise we don’t know what we are talkig about, right? So, if pleasure giving is a function, than it’s a must, and it’s ok. If beauty is a function than its also ok. But if you need a flower pot and you cannot put the water in and the flower dies, maybe it is a pot for a dry flower, but if it isn’t… so there is a lot of discussion coming into it. If you have a dining table which is high like a bar and your stool is only 40cm you can’t eat. So, I think it comes to a point where it runs to every day’s intellectual and habits, it comes, these necessities are clear, we just have to use common sense, observation and be authentic to what we are doing.

What do you aim to transmit with your work?

In the design, the transmission is… my first encounter is with the industry I work with, with the partner I am working with. For me I am not supplying services, I am working and I am taking them and myself into a new future. If people are using, if I improve every day’s life in half a percentage or 10% or 0.000000% it is good because, what is important is improvement. You cannot create damage or create poverty or create dysfunction, is not what design as a profession is… I think we have, designers have, a responsibility and this responsibility has to be looked at carefully and applied every day.

Do you think spaces shall be created to inspire people?

I think if you create a space to inspire you are already pretending that you know how to inspire. This is an assumption which I would say is somewhere arrogant, some of the arrogance is useful is necessary, but people are getting inspired from so many different things that we cannot foresee that. Many people ask me: So where do you get your inspiration?, so if I knew where I get my inspiration I’d go there everyday with a big bag, put it in, you know, use a shovel and take it on my bag home. But you don’t know. I am inspired by my 55 years of experi-ence, so if somebody comes out of a great meeting or a great lunch into a space he might feel inspired, but if the space is less inspiring than the meeting was, than its not inspiring, however you think its inspiring. What is impor-tant is to open doors. How you open doors is to give the possibility to people to imagine, this is the antithesis of social organization.

What role play materials in your approach to design?

Material is everything, material is the source, whether it is raw or it is manmade it’s… you build on that, so that is the key itself, the castle has to be built from the foundations and materials are the foun-dation. Once you understand what their capacity are, or is, than you apply them in the right places. If you apply the wrong material in the wrong place that can create a disaster but can also create a sensation of “hhh!” that you cannot describe and makes you feel something new, and this could be good… all depends on what you are doing in life.

Cosentino is a Spanish company. What is your relationship with Spain?

My relationship with Spain historically goes to my grand grand grand grand grand parents because they were kicked out of here in the 16th century. I love coming
to Spain because it’s Mediterranean and at the same time it has such a strong and beautiful character. It’s very colorful, very different, it’s breathtaking from that point of view, and historically it’s a dynamic country.
Arik Levy

Arik Levy