The Pied Piper goes Wall-E

Doing Design: David Shefa tells about his work and how he created the Kozo Lamp family.

Kozo family lamp 311 (photo credit: David shefa)
Kozo family lamp 311
(photo credit: David shefa)
Einat Kayless Argaman founded DesignBreak in 2009 and since then has gained a large community of daily readers celebrating the design scene in Israel and beyond.
Have you ever dreamed of having your very own pet lamp? Well, the time has come thanks to David Shefa and his Kozo Lamp business. Other than being darn cute, the concept of running electricity through these pipes brings it to a whole new level. There is something quite endearing and lovable within these silver creatures and their little gestures. You can watch the magic happen right here.

Can you tell me a little bit about your background?I’ve been building things since I can remember myself. I Love it! As a small child I remember that I always did stuff to my room like paint on the walls, rearrange the interior of my room every few months and was keen on inventing stuff.When did you first decide that you wanted to become a designer?At the age of 25 I decided that I probably should go and study industrial design because it fitted well with my passion for creating new products and my search for new point of views on aesthetics and everyday habits. The decision was very intuitive; I didn't give it too much thought, I heard that they were testing candidates for Shenkar on the radio one day. I subscribed, passed the tests and started my four year journey in the academy.Where do you live? What stands out about living where you are, and how does it affect your creations?We, as in me, Anat my stunning wife and our three dogs, two cats and a rabbit, recently moved outside of the city in search of open spaces and another point of view about our living habits. We lived in Tel Aviv for ten years and also during my four years of studies. My first studio was in the Florentin neighborhood with five good friends from the academy. I believe that the main influence of Tel Aviv on me is by its rustic nature; its a very Israeli city, makes no effort to look pretty, knows its true and unique quality, without hiding its defects.I'd love to hear about the beginning of the Kozo family. How did it all start?One night at the beginning of 2008 I was working late, alone at the studio in Florentin. I finished some work I had and started playing with a stack of iron pipes and fittings that I had been collecting for some time. I felt that there was something special in these raw materials and that night seemed like a good opportunity to finally explore them. After a couple of hours, I had the basic figure of what after a few days became the first Kozo Lamp – Kozo 1.I left it on the studio’s work desk that was right in front of the open entrance to the studio and got great feedback from people passing by. That was the beginning of the Kozo Lamp genuine handmade lighting brand.Tell me about your process, what is your typical working method? Do you sketch things out by hand or go right to the computer?There are no rules in design, everything goes! Usually the most fun way is to just go with it, work with the material, bring new different parts and have fun with them. I sometimes sketch an idea for a figure or a design on paper but the main exploration is through and by the material.Do you remember your very first commission?Yes I do! The first Kozo Lamp that I uploaded for sale on an online shop was sold after a week. It was a big excitement! It was bought by this guy from Germany and I will always remember his name.I know it’s probably hard to pick, but do you have a favorite piece?I do love them all but yes, I do have some favorites although they also change every now and then. So my current pick would be: Kozo 1, Kozo 3 and Kozo 20.What are some of your methods of staying motivated, focused, and expressive?Good music. Good coffee. Long lunch breaks. And I have a drum set in the workshop, so when it gets too much for me I pause and play! It charges me up with a lot of energy.What are your sources of inspiration?My first and everlasting source of inspiration is Anat. I can throw an idea at her and she would immediately have started walking with me through it, flooding me with associations and leads.The second source is simple observation; I watch people all the time. It's an obsession of mine. What they do, how they act, what they look for, how they react to things around them.My shapes and characters have many sources of inspiration and they are always influenced or merged with the feeling and emotion that is part of the new product's character. They can come from a wide variety of fields and interests ranging from natural wild life to animation to science fiction to practically everything around us.If I find myself in need of some other inspiration or wanting to cut my current line of thought, I go out for a walk maybe play some music and absorb everything that goes around me. I usually come back with a fresh attitude and then I am ready to continue.Could you share with us your progression as an artist, compared to when you first started out, how have you changed since then?At the first stage of my life as a freshly picked product designer I was still full of everything I absorbed in the academy, it took me a couple of years to calm down and remember that there are no strict rules in design and that innovation does not come from main stream ideas and concepts that the industry sets and dictates.I started pursuing my own passions and dreams, after realizing that it was my desire to break loose from needing the big industry product production circle. I wanted to be able to create my own products – handmade with love, personal responsibility and fun.Kozo Lamp was born just a few months after I took that decision. It probably freed my mind and enabled the idea to manifest itself through the things that I was interested in at that time, that were iron pipes and lighting.What advice do you have for young designers who want to follow your path?It might sound a bit corny but I think that one of the important things is to get to know the real you, find what drives you, your true passion. Then, start making something out of what you love and are good at.
What was one of your biggest lessons learned since starting out?Feel free to ask for advice on everything you do. You will know when to follow your instincts and listen to your heart. Know that you are the father and creator of the idea and you will feel what the right advice to follow is.
Where do you see yourself within the next few years?Take Kozo Lamp to its full worldwide blossom. After that, take a small vacation somewhere nice and quiet, come back and choose the next adventure. I have already got some things lined up.
Do you listen to music whilst you work? What’s playing in your studio right now?Music is my drug of choice while at work. Right now there is a nice playlist running with “system of a down”, “dream theater”, “bullet for my valentine” and many more rock and heavy metal artist. I have a big music collection and the style is changing every day according to the mood and atmosphere.
If you weren't a designer, what would you be?I would probably follow my second passion and try my luck with producing good music.
What are you working on at the moment?I am currently designing a new Kozo Lamp series that includes ceiling fixtures and a variety of hanging fixtures.
Finally, tell us something no one knows about yourself.Only few know that I did not finish high school.Read Einat’s blog and follow her designed journey at