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Perhaps most noted for turning a windowless, basement apartment in Tel Aviv into a spacious and vibrantly lit area with a pleasant garden, Raphael Cohen and Tamir Addadi of Spacecraft Architecture are now expanding their visions of combining light and nature into designs for the home.
In the process of building houses that focus on uniting man with the environment, they found a need for products in the home that would bring in light, serve a purpose and remain aesthetically pleasing.
One representation of their flexible, minimalist style comes in the form of a simple white cube with a small square hole on one side. At a glance, it looks like any other painted wooden table, but in the light, haloes of color emerge from the shadows inside the etched space. The trick is that one of the inner surfaces of the box is colored, and this tint is reflected when natural light hits the table. The cubes look straightforward, but the manufacturing process is complicated and time-consuming because each panel has to be hand-painted after the sides are together. They come in three different sizes, and they can be placed together or taken apart depending on the purpose they will serve.
"The idea behind these boxes is that they are useful as tables, bedside stands, or even as chairs, and they brighten up a room in a delicate way because of the subtlety of the color," says Cohen of the concept.
Another Spacecraft Architecture design for the home that combines light and nature comes in the shape of a flower. Durable acrylic sheets are cut into the shape of a flower with a laser after the drawings are perfected in the computer. At the base of the flower, a special light bulb with a metallic tip reflects the light backwards, creating a three-dimensional, "double-flower" effect. The lamps are flexible, and can be affixed directly to the wall, hung from the ceiling or placed on the floor. They come in orange, red, blue, bright pink and bright green and once they are lit up, it is as if a flower has sprouted from the floor and opened its petals to the morning sunshine.
"One of the things we try to do is to combine functionality and beauty while keeping it flexible," says Cohen. Using the same technology as the flower lamps, they designed the Canoe fruit boat. Two types of materials, hard and soft plastic, are snapped together at the corners to form bowls and vases that can be used to store dry materials or stand alone as decorative items.
"It takes a lot of experimentation to make a two-dimensional drawing come out looking three-dimensional," says Cohen. "And it is an expensive process." Cohen, who finished his degree in architecture at Bezalel in Jerusalem in 2002, says he always enjoyed working with his hands and building things. The hard work involved with creating new, innovative products means that Spacecraft Architecture, like many struggling designers and artists, is turning abroad to expand their client base.
"Israel is a small country with many talented people, but if there are only opportunities to sell in Tel Aviv in exclusive stores like Bauhaus and Soho and in a few museum shops elsewhere in the country, it's not enough to survive," says Cohen, who along with his partner recently started working with the Shlezinka Company in 2003 to create specific projects and designs.
Formed in 2000, the Shlezinka Company chooses Israeli artists and designers to promote abroad in international projects and stores. With bases already established in the UK, the Netherlands, France and Belgium, they are trying to expand further to reach the United States, Spain, Germany and Switzerland.
Every year, Shlezinka produces two new catalogues featuring talented Israeli artists and designers from different fields. Working with Shlezinka created an opportunity for Spacecraft Architecture to grow and continue to create the designs they enjoy.
"We are trying to focus on keeping our designs functional and flexible so that they can be used for many things, and of course we are always striving to get a maximum experience out of minimal resources," says Cohen, who plans to continue his trademark style of creatively combining natural light with synthetic materials in as many unique and innovative ways as possible.
For more information on Spacecraft Architecture, visit their Web site at www.spacecraftoffice.com/1024.htm