Architect Yael Erel and lighting designer Avner Ben Natan, are a collaborating couple and creators of Lightexture. The lighting they create are fitted and assembled by hand in their own studio.
Avner always liked to build things and over the years built quite a few lamps for the places he lived in. Since high school he worked with designing lights for films, not necessarily fixtures but the light you see on screen. He says that the designers who have inspired him are the unknown designers that make hardware parts, kitchenware and music instruments. He doesn't know their names but lives with these objects around him daily. When asking him which designs that have made the most impact on him, he replies:
“The design of nature and the earth in which I live that seems to design itself by its own terms and conditions. On one hand it seems random and on the other hand magical.”
To Yael, abstraction in Art and Architecture came in nature to her as she was raised in Israel, with a mother who is a painter and an art history teacher. Yael has been involved in visual arts since she was very young, always carrying a sketchbook with her in her bag ever since she was ten years old. The world of abstract art and design has had the most impact on Yael, the sense that a work could hold within it an abstracted poetic presence of meaning is extremely significant to her and her education at the Cooper Union clarified that understanding and grounded it architecturally.
“Design always fascinates me as a medium between art and necessity – I chose to study Architecture since it was considered in antiquity “the Mother of all arts”, considering it an entry point to the world of design. I do not limit myself to the definitions of design, architecture and art. I find that constructing ideas in matter and responding to constraints is what I am occupied with, an occupation that takes on almost any scale or abstract manifestation.”
How Lightexture was Born
A few years ago, after Avner met Yael, he started to get more interested in designing fixtures and so the journey of the lightexture began when Avner was building Yael a present. He wanted to create a light for their bedside that would allow one of them to read while the other could sleep without interruption.
He built the first lamp from a vegetable steamer and had a problem with the glare of the center placed bulb. Yael entered the process and proposed a solution: she wanted to place the lamp off center. Seeing that the bulb’s asymmetrical placement allowed for a change in the light beam location as the fixture rotated, Avner added a spinning motion as an adjustment feature.
And there it was, after this one collaboration, Yael and Avner fell in love with the qualities that this lamp holds - the adjustability of the light, the textures it creates and the fact that the object itself becomes a merge between a use of a ready made object (referring to a period in 20th century art and expanding on it), Islamic patterning and a camera aperture.
They saw so much in this creature that allowed one of them to sleep and the other to read, that it made them take the decision to develop it together – and that was the birth of lightexture.
The process of making light textures is dynamic and changes from time to time, but in general Yeal and Avner let’s us in on how it goes:
“We have an idea, we draw or build a base model or prototype, we adjust, draw and build it again and again until it works. Light is an illusive material that requires a lot of empirical experiments and analysis. We try to develop the work through considering both its projection of light in space i.e the light quality and textures created, as well as developing it as a physical entity. The work resides in the balance between the material and projected qualities.
These days we are collaborating extensively with ceramic artist Sharan Elran. We work as a team to bring ideas into reality, test, evaluate and continue development until we reach the light.”
Though the process of running Lightexture as a business, requires marketing and selling:
“Marketing and selling doesn't come naturally to us. We just do it slowly, step by step, and try to make our work speak for itself.”
Their working progress is growing and they will soon be cooperating with two choreographers for an installation of light and dance in Chashama Gallery in Manhattan.
Avner: Love the problems, deal with them and try to solve them, it gives a lot of character to the work.
Yael: Search for the right questions not only for answers. Trust your sense of self and at the same time step outside of your work and constantly read it with fresh eyes.
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