Arik Levy in conversation with Helen Parton

Arik Levy discusses his work including the Geta storage system, his first Modus collaboration.

Arik Levy’s biography is an impressive testament to the many creative fields he has successfully traversed: artist, designer, photographer and filmmaker. “Creation is an uncontrolled muscle”, he says by way of explanation. This year alone, he has exhibited at shows around the world from Dallas and Beijing to Istanbul and Rome. As of September he will add Modus to his list of collaborators with the launch, in London, of his first piece for the brand: the Geta storage cabinet.

It is a project he says that came together as a “mutual flirtation”. “When all the cards were in place both Modus and I decided it was time to start ” he explains. Levy says that in his studio his team is constantly researching new, different and interesting design concepts, even without a definite collaborator in mind, so when they do have a commission from a specific producer, there are always a ready supply of ideas to draw from. Having received the brief from Modus, Levy and his crew created different designs they thought would work well within the Modus portfolio. “When you work with a manufacturer for the first time, it’s always critical [to create multiple designs] due to the fact that we do not know each other, and need to not only design but also digest all the other party may have to say or want to do,” he says. It can be great and or frustrating.” Fortunately for both parties, as far as Geta was concerned, it was the former. Our first meeting was wonderful and the concepts we showed were warmly accepted,” he says. From there he says the project moved forward with ease: “We don’t so much count the hours spent on what tool, instead, the process involves ideas and metaphors from production as well as strategic knowledge.” The senior designer for this particular project, Pierre Dubourg, then worked with Levy and Modus to take the concept through to fruition.

Geta is named after a style of Japanese sandal and it is no surprise to learn that Levy has travelled a great deal in his career. He was raised in Israel and has a graphic design studio and surfboard shop in Tel Aviv, where he also took part in his first sculpture exhibition in 1988. At the age of 27, he studied industrial design at the Art Center Europe in Switzerland. He subsequently won a competition to spend time in Japan where he participated in several design exhibitions, consolidating his ideas and design approach before returning to Europe where he became involved in designing sets for contemporary dance and opera companies. It was not a conventional path to product design by any means. Among the projects Levy works on from his Paris-based L studio, founded in 1997 with Pippo Lionni, are the creation of hi-tech clothing and accessories for Far Eastern firms, although he says his first love remains art and industrial design. His philosophy is: “Giving the best and beyond the expected answer to a given problem, surprising and innovating with simple straightforward ideas and real design solutions. ”

Geta, a beautiful collection of storage cabinets based on individual modules, perfectly exemplifies this. The three options for the base and top combine with internal units to cleverly create a modular storage solution in various configurations. It has a range of timbers, veneers and painted lacquers with numerous colour options. “ It is a flexible system in terms of construction and therefore represents great potential for the home, the home office or other office landscapes, ” Levy says.

Some say he works as both a scientist and a poet.   He refers to himself as a “feeling” artist but, esoteric descriptions aside, the breadth  of his work is certainly something that marks him out. His projects range from public sculpture to ceramic lighting to complete multi-use environments. At this year’s Design Miami/Basel he produced the limited edition KnotMarble table made of Carrera marble yet is passionate about his Water=Life bottle opener project. He shows no signs of slowing down either: The rest of his year will be taken up with solo exhibitions in Paris and Vicenza, Italy and Tel Aviv. Life is a system of signs and symbols,” he concludes whimsically, “where nothing is quite as it seems.”