Innovations: Perplexing Perspex

Home objects take on new dimensions through the use of progressive laser techniques.

freiman design 88 298 (photo credit: )
freiman design 88 298
(photo credit: )
Nostalgic notes. 'My designs evoke different associations for each person because they are familiar yet different,' says designer Shelly Freiman. It may not be "borrowed" or "blue" as the old expression entails, but Shelly Freiman's product design does recall both something old and something new. "My work is about evolution, not just jumping straight into something without roots," says Freiman, 31, who has been working as a freelance product designer since she graduated from Jerusalem's Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in 2001. "I enjoy mixing classic and contemporary in my design, and I like to evoke the past while creating something modern." Home objects take on new dimensions through the use of progressive laser techniques but retain a relationship with a nostalgic past. Freiman says that her student exchange with Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam had a profound effect on her. "I really like the design in Holland. There's something very simple but strong about it. It's very concentrated, and the central point is often the idea itself and not its function." Two of her recent products, a transparent Perspex candelabrum and candlestick holders, maintain a classic shape. It is the material and the manufacturing process that gives them a chic new fa ade. "I usually start with something familiar and change the concept through the design and construction materials." Freiman says her inspiration comes from just about everything, from daily life to watching people's behavior to moments that turn into ideas. "I am always stuck to my sketchbook," she says as she fashions a thick, blue rubber band into a butterfly shape atop the brown, spiral notebook. "It never leaves my side. I spend a lot of time thinking about new ideas and drawing them, but not everything is practical or possible." Inside, the pages are filled with drawings and doodles, with sparse explanations here and there. For the Slight Light lamp collection Freiman recently designed using white Perspex, she says the idea came from a broom she had leaning against the wall at home that was topped with a lamp. "I originally made a large lamp that was standing, and then I moved to something smaller that leans against the wall." The lamps were designed with what she describes as an "anonymous" material that in itself doesn't make a statement. The simplicity of the design highlights both the shape of the lamp and the light it creates and reflects. Because of its slim structure - a cutout Perspex lamp with a bulb behind it - the light takes up less space and is more flexible than regular lighting. "My designs evoke different associations for each person because they are familiar yet different. For some people, the lamps bring back memories of childhood, but for others it may remind them of a lamp in their grandmother's home. I wanted to leave room for different interpretations." What Freiman enjoys most about product design is the endless possibilities, and in recent years she has taken on a number of projects, including interior design for restaurants, bars and caf s. "Product and interior design go well together because in the process of designing a space, I often create made-for objects that suit each place." She works with a partner, Amir Cohen, on the interior design projects. "We have a good fusion because we have different but complementary styles." The pair recently finished work on a restaurant in Tel Aviv called Benedicte that has an eclectic mixture of old English high tea and contemporary urban. Born in Jerusalem, Freiman grew up on nearby Moshav Beit Zayit, which translates as "house of olives." "I'm allergic to olive trees, so when they flowered every year it was difficult," she says, recalling her pastoral childhood. Aside from one paternal aunt who works in New York as an architect, Freiman says the idea to become a designer didn't come from anyone in the immediate family. "I knew from a very young age that I wanted to design things, but I wasn't sure if it would be architecture or products or art. It wasn't until I started studies at Bezalel that I knew industrial design would be my field." With industrial design, a wide scope is attainable, and Freiman says, "I like the three-dimensional side of it, and the fact that there is something very daily, useful and practical about it while at the same time, there is room for a lot of innovation." Struggling with an interior conflict about how to balance what people really need and the desire to create decorative things, she says she knows that people are employed because of her designs and many people enjoy them at home. "In the future, I want to continue doing both interior and product design together," she says. "I want to learn new techniques and use new materials. I am always interested in trying new things to and keep challenging myself."