See Arik Levy’s People-Focused Creations at Design Shanghai

Arik Levy doesn’t view design as a binary between form and function. Instead, the Israeli-born Paris-based designer’s viewpoint comes from a different place: people. 

“The world is about people, not objects,” is Levy’s philosophy, and in his solo booth for Louise Alexander Gallery at Design Shanghai 2015, the artist and designer has translated his monolithic “Rock” sculptures into a different kind of human scale, with pieces perfectly proportioned for the home. On display at the fair are Levy’s RockShelves from 2009, which transform the same crystalline forms from his large-scale public sculptures into 10 rotating supports between simple shelves made from American walnut. With their mirrored surfaces contrasting with the natural wood’s patina, each of these polished stainless steel forms interacts with its surroundings, reflecting the light and also the people around it.

Levy has described himself as a “feeling” artist, and his background in design is just as multifaceted as the shapes he creates, which helps explain how he is so easily able to tap into the human element. After studying in Paris and Switzerland, he worked for a time as a set designer for opera and modern dance, creating environments specifically with human movement in mind. This understanding of movement and kinetic energy carries through to this work, whether in undulating organic forms reminiscent of mercury or in fractured explosions of light. 

That isn’t to say that Levy simply translates the natural world into his designs. Rather than just reproducing nature, the designer works in a thoroughly contemporary vocabulary, imagining forms inspired by nature, but with a man-made twist that comes through in his slick surfaces and heightened, almost idealized geometry. It’s the real world, as though perfected in a lab or CAD program. Despite this formal tinkering and the industrial materials he utilizes, Levy’s creations are anything but cold. With their human-sized scale, even his colossal works like 2015’s RockStoneBlast seem imbued with a human ghost, as their form and size suggest, however subtly, the familiar presence of the body.      

Heather Corcoran

Visit Louise Alexander Gallery at Design Shanghai 2015Booth EG-32, Mar. 27–Mar. 30.

Follow Louise Alexander Gallery on Artsy.