FORM FOLLOWS MATERIAL
Our studio is one whose fundamentals lie in material development and textile design first and foremost. Having experimented and made a huge mess with a wide range of fibers – wood has always been one that we constantly came back to. The rigidity, brittleness and inflexibility of these surfaces were such a contrast to the flowing, organic grain composition found on each and every piece that we had to find a way to transform these rough surfaces into soft, bendable textiles – which, we knew, would enable us to create new forms that we had never been seen before.
Our shared outlook in regards to design and aesthetics led us to invest time in creating new textiles which could have the potential to maybe change the way we both construct and produce three dimensional products. Our quest was to soften what is hard and strengthen what is soft. All we needed was to find the right material to work with. As wood is generally known to be stiff and solid looking – we thought that changing a core trait of something so recognizable would be very interesting. Following initial raw wood selection, the research and development process began by testing the material’s limits and potential. Throughout this process, focus is on the movement, form and geometry of each and every wood surface that is worked on - all of which informs creation of the final prototype. The end result is a flexible wooden composite that is marked by an angular grid – this grid determines the three dimensional outcome of the material when folded.
The smell, grain and history of wood makes every piece unique. As we both have a great love of this material and nature as a whole, we wanted to see how we could incorporate wood as an extension of a wearers body, even for a little while. It was the direction the wood pulled itself into that informed the overall shape of the clutch. Trying to figure out how to make the wood fit into the contours of the body in 1 piece required some thought. The studio worked through many failed methods and after making over 100 models of the clutch, finally there began to emerge a construct that was both functional and aesthetic. We found the wood material to be a surprisingly accommodating surface for the creation of the clutch’s geometric lines. Discovering that the placement of these lines by cutting - determines the flexibility and softness of the final shape, we also found that this provided the required flexibility for the overall design. So, while the geometric surface design provides necessary flexibility, the wood textures are both delicate and wear resilient. Featuring a magnetic clasp and a soft underbelly for a comfortable grip, each clutch is handmade to order to insure a personal and minimal production process where we also generate very little waste. The packaging is a handmade wooden case intended for a durable, safe storage for the clutch when not in use.
Our twisted furniture series was created from a distortion we made to our original wood textiles. By re arranging the grid and changing the base components we were able to create a 'twisted' effect to the wood's surface. We decided to really push the material by creating a hollowed out (cyclical) bench which enables a simultaneous view of the curvature seen on both the interior and exterior. While we were pleased with the aesthetic, the bench still had to withstand human weight. The thin paneling contains a hidden "ribcage" made of strong Birchwood which is used as an excellent weight distributer. The bench can now hold a max of 100 kgs and took two years to complete.
As a design team of two, we opened our studio in 2012 after completing our BA in Textile design. With very little experience in product design and business management but having a strong belief in our vision, we spent over 12 months planning our first business model, developing our wood textiles, wood clutches and faceted furniture. After extensive planning and design trials, we were finally ready to show our work and opened our first e-commerce store in early 2013. The feedback was immediate. Our work began to circulate the internet and we very quickly outgrew our studio and production space. During the first year, we learned so much about industry, commerce, export, and marketing but most importantly our target base began to form. We realized that the majority of our clientele were designers themselves and so we really began to understand who we are making these products for. We also realized very quickly that in order for us to flourish as a business, the studio would need to spread itself out by collaborating on different mediums. Our textiles are now sent all over the world to different companies and manufacturers, material libraries and exhibitions so that our studio would not only rely on sales of existing products in store but so that we could work collaboratively on projects in automotive, architecture and fashion where we contribute our constructional and material know how. We are also creating art pieces from our materials and are scheduled to create two solo "spatial" art exhibitions in 2019. The more we spread out the more we realize how much everything is still very much connected to one another. The textiles inform structure, structure then informs the object and its use.
As our business evolved, we also began to also develop our own clean production methods that enables the studio to utilize up to 98% of all raw wood while also storing leftover minimal waste for further testing and development. We are now completely autonomous as far as production, design and even branding. We design, develop, produce, distribute and export everything "in-house". We are not dependent on anything or anyone to produce our items. This provides industrial and creative autonomy and helps maintain an independent outlook as we decide for ourselves what is 'trendy' and interesting rather than following a mass doctrine. In this way, as we grow slowly but surely, we are quite "trim" in regards to monthly expenses and have a very solid base of knowledge and experience from which we can expand.
Everything made in studio is intentionally designed to be 'trend free' and hopefully withstand the test of time. Our aesthetic is strictly based on natural, organic structures, clean cut precision and good proportions. Collections are non-seasonal, new designs do not replace existing ones, rather, they are added to our overall body of work. This is also our way of rebelling against the non-sustainable fast fashion culture of the past decade, something that we completely disagree with not just from a sustainable point of view but we also think that leads to creative burn out. Good things take time and ideas need space to grow and evolve. Just like anything else in nature.
Our studio is also the co-founder and creative director of a new start-up company (Lotus Clear Air) that designs textiles and wearable products that filter damaging airborne particles found in dense urban areas
Our studio welcomes small groups of teenagers who live at a government-funded boarding school for kids that come from difficult home environments. In studio, they are taught the basics of woodworking and can make themselves a simple furniture piece and/or learn to use hand and power tools for fixing and personalizing their (very small) dormitories. Being able to use tools and "fix and make stuff" as they call it helps tremendously with their self-expression and is a lot of fun.
Over a short period of time, we have built a solid body of work and a sustainable business built from the ground up. We firmly believe that the future of design will be found in the creation of new material composites and clean, sustainable production methods. Our products are 100% original, developed over long periods of time and built to last. Although being very much futurists in our aesthetics, all items made in studio could have been made 100 years ago. This balance between old craft techniques with innovative, clean production methods is what create excellent working environments for future designers.
Orli Tesler & Itamar Mendelovitch ( T + M)