Interview with ALEXA LIXFELD

Francesca Gattello 09/01/2014 Words No Comments on Interview with ALEXA LIXFELD

Alexa Lixfeld‘s work tells a story about change: after over ten years of modeling, in 2000 Alexa decided to shake her life and focus on design. From the fashion world she brings with herself an extremely elegant aesthetic sensibility. Through her eyes and her artistic perception, design becomes an evolving process closely related to the human experience, an experience made of paradoxes and for this deeply real, sweetly fragile. The interview turns into a pleasant conversation in which emerged serious themes and stimulating reflections.

What is the Design process you follow to develop your projects?

It is very difficult to say. I work on different projects and there is a red thread going through them but at the same time they are individual projects and they depend on circumstances. I can see continuity in my work but it might be not so obvious from the outside. There is not a checklist I follow to do design because, for me, to design means to follow natural steps. It is an evolution, which has a lot to do with circumstances and with the way I express my artistic perception.

There is one of your projects that caught my attention: Metamorphose cutlery. Tell me something about it, about its meaning.

Metamorphose is a collection of 13 silver items, each one is different and tells the movement of a little thing. Some people look at it and say that it is like sperm. But it is not sperm, it is like an embryo, it is something moving, something alive and developing from a round neutral shape, evolving in the ai???spoonishai??? type and into something that spreads spikes, going to the direction of a fork. It is funny to have a sex/gender issue brought to cutlery. Somehow the spoon has a female connotation and the fork has a male one. All this rise through focusing on shape. This project is not related to the mouth experience because this cutlery is not really meant to be used. Metamorphose is about the becoming of something: how can a spoon become a fork? When is it still a spoon an when is it already a fork? When it is male, when female?

Alexa Lixfeld - Metamorphose Spoons collection- photo Benne Ochs Alexa Lixfeld - Metamorphose Spoons - photo Benne Ochs

So this is a project that makes you reflect. You can do some cutlery and talk about different topics as synaesthesia, sensations, experiences, sex, genders and so on…

I will give you one more example. As you can see I am not wearing any jewellery on myself but I designed a necklace. It is a big piece made of round beads, a 4 meters collier. I took a photo of a naked woman only wearing this big piece of jewellery. She is standing and the necklace is going down like if she is wearing a coat but she is not covered, she is naked even with this huge piece. Usually we wear our clothes to cover ourselves and we have some small jewellery. So, I am wondering: what is the relation? What is the importance? How much is it a burden because it is heavy and falling on the ground? I mean, it is beautiful and maybe it is not an obvious burden but it could be a prison. My relation with objects is very questioning: beauty, burdens, gender, luxury… My work is practical and beautiful but it has always a little crack. It is never perfect, it sometimes has a dark side, it is never shiny but always questioning.


Within your projects: which is the one that represent you the most and which is the one you are more affectionate?

Honestly, I can t answer to this question. Glasswood is the project that I am working on most recently and this is a ai???status quoai???. Also Me and my doll project is very important to me from a very human aspect: we built a foundation in Sri Lanka and we created the whole project around raising money to realize an educational project for children. This is an on going project and I feel I am taking care of someone. From an artistic point of view is very difficult to say. Probably I would like to work on a larger project, giving more relevance to my objects because a lot of them are self-initiated and therefore their scale is small. Sometimes I am a bit frustrated about that, especially when I think to deeper projects, Me and my doll for example: it would be nice to have more return and to be able to built more things for the foundation. This kind of things… So more relevance would be appreciated but I also think that for the fact that I am doing everything by myself it is already quite good.

Alexa Lixfeld - Glasswood - photo Birgitta De Vos Alexa Lixfeld - Glasswood - photo Birgitta De Vos Alexa Lixfeld - Glasswood - Detail - photo Birgitta De Vos

When was the moment you realized that you would become a designer?

I have not decided to do it. I was interested in architecture and I did a workshop with some architects to see how it was. I signed for a workshop in Domaine de Boisbuchet* where they invite designers and architects to be mentors. There was one given by Claesson Koivisto Rune, it was about something in Space and I thought, ai???It sounds so cool, let s tryai???. When I arrived there I realised it was not about architecture, they wanted us to do product design and so I did it. I really liked it and also my mentors enjoyed my work, they thought that what I was doing was interesting and they encouraged me to do design.

*Summer workshops organized by Vitra Design Museum and the Centre Pompidou.

Which object among the existing ones you would have designed and why?
Which object should be redesigned and why?
There is any missing object? If so, which one?

I think I am going to have some problems with these questions because this is not the way I think. If there is some object that I really want to do, I would do it.

Which company you would like to work with and why?

As I said before I am trying somehow to bring more relevance to my objects so I think I would love to work with a company, which is also following this perspective. I mean, I am working with handmade objects, with traditional and local production techniques and materials, with fair trade standards. This is what we can call sustainable design practice, so it would be very difficult for me to work with a company that is going in another direction.

Why are you so interested in doing this kind of design? Maybe for humanitarian reasons? Because you love handcraft objects? Or because you really like the relationship that grows between the designer and artisans?

I think it is because of all these reasons together: because you can put your own hands on the working process; because this kind of design affect the lives of people; because usually objects that are developed following this perspective are not throw-away objects but they age beautifully. This design is usually close to people and it is not super bad for the environment. Moreover I really love to travel and I like this cross-cultural moment: it is very interesting to go and work with people and to see what is happening in collaborations.

Alexa Lixfeld - Me and my doll - Kids with drawingsAlexaLixfeld - Me and my doll - Imesha - Drawing Alexa Lixfeld - Me and my doll - Imesha - photo Annika Luebbe

Why doing Design today?

I think that design today has not so much to do only with product and industrial manufacturing anymore. I think design is really important for the coming years but in a broader sense. It would be more about coaching: there should be design in many other disciplines because design thinking really links existing things. Creativity works on what is there, so let s talk about good practices: how can we use something in a new or better way? How can we optimize processes? Design can be just for fun or for marketing reasons but I think that it can be a very serious and important subject connected to socio-economical issues. Design can talk about who is producing things or what is used to produce them and these are finally political issues. Design can also make you reflect: some of my projects are related to gender even though it is not so obvious, I don t push it on your face. There are questions: round and spikes; white and black and, you know, sometimes it could be white or black but most of the time is really grey. In Glasswood project you have the mould and the glass object: the one is kind of giving birth to the other but, at the same time, they are burning each other and they leave marks on each other, furthermore they belong together but they are two and two different. I try not to use stereotypes, I am trying to work in a more poetic way, so, in the end, you can see a beautiful outcome which also has still its meaning. If you look at it through my eyes at least you can feel a lot of tension and energy that spread from them.

Alexa Lixfeld - Metamorphose Vases 1 - photo Benne Ochs Alexa Lixfeld - Metamorphose Vases 2 - photo Benne Ochs

How is to be a designer in Germany?

The fact that I live in Germany is not relevant. There is a small design scene in Berlin, but I don t live there, I live in Hamburg at the moment and in Hamburg there is basically nothing. Design perception in Hamburg is very related to commercial and advertising agencies. Design is not there.

If the location is not important, it means that you can do design everywhere you want?

I don t communicate so much that I am living in Germany. I think that Europe is a great place to work because everything is very close and it is so easy to move. This is a nice environment, but for me, I can do my projects everywhere and I love travelling, so I can t stay always in the same place. I live in Hamburg a quiet life but I also go out to the world to do my projects and exhibitions, then I come back to my home, that is not related to design, where there is no scene, no friends doing design, no confrontation with other design teams. In terms of design I am really isolated here and I can really do my work, I am focused and not distracted at all. No distractions could also means no inspiration but it is a neutral place. I think that in the terms that I am working constantly moving from a place to another Hamburg is a harbour. And this works for me.

AlexaLixfeld - Kubus Alexa Lixfeld - Kubus

What is the best place in the world in which doing design today?

Design is such a broad subject… It really depends on what you do, what you want to do and where you want to put your workforce. Around Eindhoven there is a special quality because of the circumstances that you can find in this place but, you know, if you are a designer, a maker, a creator, if you sell the things you do on your own it is really different than work for industry and there are lot of industries, for example in the south of Germany, that need to work with designers. If you want to work in a more political setting, maybe it is better to work for the UN. It really depends on what kind of design you want to do. Design can be so much and it can also be so little, it has the potential to be great but a lot of times it is very poor and it is so depressing. I don t know… For example, the way that I live, I can t recommend it, this is a very particular way of living: I surround myself basically with quietness, there is not so much exchange, there is nothing, but that gives me the quietness that I need to work. At the same time it would be impossible for me to stay home all the time, so this can only work together with travelling. I love to travel and I love to work in a cross cultural context, as you can see: Glasswood is made in Czech Republic and Me and my doll project in Sri Lanka. Now I am just back from Vietnam. I need to work in an international context and with the craft people manufacturing in a very local environment. But this is for me and it really depends on your personality. It is very difficult to say for someone else.

The way you live and work is a sort of paradox, there is tension, but at the same I can see an equilibrium: you don t really want to stay and you don t really want to go away. I can notice the same tension in your projects, like in Metamorphose project: it seems that you are showing yourself through your project. There is a great coherence between your life and your work.

Yes, there is. And there also is the will to be on the other side, like the little thing that is evolving, the tiny spoon, the embryo: it is evolving and it wants to go in both directions. There is no ai???I want to go thereai???, it is not easily going. It always goes holding something and tearing in the other direction.

AlexaLixfeld_Tableware_Mix1_small AlexaLixfeld_Ricebowls_MixedStack2_small AlexaLixfeld_Ricebowls_LightStack_small AlexaLixfeld_Ricebowls_Light_small

Tell me about a common/anonymous object to which you relate a story.

I am trying not to be very attached to objects, honestly. I get very attached to people or to animals, but not to objects. I love objects but just when I can use them, like a car: I don t care of its special design but I am interested in the freedom of movement. I am very happy when I have a car that gives me mobility so I can bring my objects from here to there and I can do my exhibitions. I also have, of course, a place where I live: it is important for shelter and because there is the washing machine that I can use to wash my clothes. There are also objects that I brought when I travelled, like memories or things that I bought because I liked the craftsmanship or because I just felt somehow connected to them, but that was more in the past. The more I work with objects and products the less I want to have them around me. I think this is the same reason why I don t live in a design environment. Even if I work a lot with porcelain, I use the tableware that my grandmother gave me. Now it starts to be very old, cracked, some pieces split off, but I continue to use it. I think if you will come to my house and you will see me offering you a coffee in this flowered and very old fashioned pots, you would maybe think, ai???this is not what I expected from Alexa s placeai???. Maybe this is the reason why I want to do something new for the tableware, you know? As you can see I am also not wearing any jewellery, I am dressed very plain and if you ask me if I missed something in the last six weeks when I travelled just with my suitcase, I can answer there is no object I missed. I just missed to be surrounded by the people that I love.

AlexaLixfeld - Kubus AlexaLixfeld - Cups

Scrivi un commento