Scaling the heights of technology and creativity, Assa Ashuach takes design art to innovative new levels, molding thoughtful, futuristic forms with masterful precision.
"Spending time with my family and good friends."
If luxury were ...
An object Something classic.
A moment Eating or designing.
A place On a beach, one that is as minimal as possible, with maybe just a few coconut trees.
A person My wife.
You recently launched the artistic yet innovative AI light. How does it work?
It features artificial intelligence: AI actually learns. We live in 24-hour cycles, so to accurately record our living space we have to record at least one cycle. AI is built in such a way that it starts with pre-defined codes, so if we both buy one, on the first day it will behave pretty much in the same way, but after one cycle it generates a new behavior, according to your personal space. On the first day it calibrates, then it becomes unique in behavior. Imagine if a train or bus passes your home every hour; it will pick this up and will understand that this happens every hour, so it will disregard this sound.
Your work is very sculptural, very organic. What inspires each form?
As a child, I grew up in the Mediterranean and I used to be in the sea all the time. I used to dive a lot and windsurf. Surfing is all about the sails; it's about speed, inertia and lines. There is a stool I'm working on called the Venturi stool. Venturi is a form that comes from sailing, it's very significant because the boat is being pulled with two forces; the wind which is pushing and there is also a vacuum that is pulling the boat, this is called the Venturi effect. It is so strong that it can deform material. I'm always imagining different forces. I'm very sensitive to lines and the perception of objects through lines. The perception of the object is very important to me and how you perceive it.
You have been working with lots of interesting new technologies, such as artificial intelligence and rapid prototyping, for quite a while now. How do you discover new technologies?
I work within a network of like-minded people, so each one brings news from time to time, and sometimes I just contact people that I read about. I think that it's a contemporary way of working. I have colleagues in Belgium and Germany and clients and manufacturers in China, as well as people that I work with on a daily basis in London, but located in different areas of the city. We exchange a lot of information through e-mails and other different tools that we have for exchanging information. It's a network.
What other technologies or materials are you researching?
I'm very careful, I'm not just on a constant hunt for new technologies. Like an artist who enjoys certain things, I am an artist who likes to innovate, to give people pleasure, and it's personal, it's not about showing off. Many of your signature works, such as the award-winning Omi light and AI stool are created through rapid prototype programs, which, with the right equipment, can be created by individuals. Do you feel that this could create a shift in design, akin to what has happened within the music industry due to the availability of easy-to-use, inexpensive home studio equipment? I'm encouraging this - I think it would be great. However, design is like shoemaking: it's very professional. If I were to take someone from the street and give him a piece of plasticine and ask him to make something out of it, what would he do? Even if I said, "OK, we'll bake it so that it becomes a hard object that can be used," what would he make? A teapot perhaps? We can do anything today, but what will we do? This is the question.
It is interesting that you are encouraging a democratic approach to design when many designers are taking an elitist, more artistic route.
I believe in two things that relate. One is interaction with an object, and the other is like personalization. I know that it's a trendy word right now, which can also relate to something that is produced in smaller numbers. I used to work within consumer product design for Vodaphone, creating accessories that are produced in millions. It's not bad, but if we can give something a little more personal, then I think it's a bonus.
What makes an object personal?
Well, with the Omi and the AI, it's the fact that you can buy it and tweak it. It's the interaction. It's just a small thing, but it's very satisfying, it's yours, you made it that way. That's what I like personally. You can play with it and feel that it's yours, but also that you can dress it up and refresh it; it's new.
Which designers do you find the most interesting?
There is a very interesting wave of interactive design, such as Moritz Waldemeyer, Troika, and Julia Lohmann. Paul Cocksedge is also great. He's a magician, he's always making tricks. There's also a great group called Greyworld. They did a sculpture in the London Stock Exchange of balls that go up and down. They are doing a lot of interactive pieces – all of their projects are very good. Sam Buxton is a good friend and is always doing interesting things.