Off the Record // Meet the Material Girl Behind Slash ObjectsVasilis Stergiou
Photos courtesy Slash Objects
Photos courtesy Slash Objects
Arielle Assouline-Lichten, of Brooklyn-based Slash Objects, is making rubber chic again. No, but really, her furniture and accessories line, crafted using elements like 100 percent post-consumer recycled rubber ingeniously fused with brass and concrete, has redefined upcycling and expanded our material-minded brains to new dimensions. The Masters-of-Architecture-holding designer founded Slash Projects in 2013 in an effort to artfully bridge spatial and virtual mediums, with utility and tactility front of mind in every piece created (check out the Vanity Mirror at left), and today the fruits of her labor have proven successful, as she’s just recently been awarded Best of NYCxDESIGN for her Coexist Collection alongside fellow innovators like Lee Broom and design duo Shinya Ito & Kaori Yamamoto. We chatted with the creative force behind the multidisciplinary studio and, like her striking designs, she’s thoughtful, curious, architecturally minded and straight-up stylish. Slash, the epitome of cool.
Your use of materials is
really something. How do they
inform your designs?
Materials are core to the designs and products, and I would almost say the design often starts with the material and then I decide what it wants to be. I like to think about Louis Kahn’s quote: “Even a brick wants to be something.” Each material has a way of working that lends itself to a certain behavior or presence. I like to dig deep on that notion and rework how the material is traditionally treated, and shift it that so that people see a typical material in an entirely new way.
Portrait by Sophie Mathewson
From where do you garner your inspiration? I am really inspired by work that can transform a space, so creating a sense of intrigue in a piece is one of the objectives I like to start with. I think about what sort of feeling I would like a person to have when experiencing the work and then design the piece to create a heightened sense of that experience through materials and juxtaposition. I’m also fascinated by natural and man-made wonders of the world; from Japanese architecture to natural rock formations, I’m really inspired by idiosyncratic assemblages wherever they may come from.
Tell us about you and life before Slash Objects. I grew up in Philadelphia to foreign parents, which gave me a desire to explore the world. My mom was born in Denmark and my dad is French Moroccan. I was lucky enough to live in Copenhagen and work in design, which is what gave me the understanding that different cultures truly make and build the world differently. I was then able to study under Toyo Ito in Japan as part of my Master’s in Architecture and work for Kengo Kuma’s office in Tokyo. Those experiences entirely transformed how I think about architecture and materials and making. I am still obsessed with Japan, from Kawaii culture to the incredible food, but mainly the Japanese design sensibility and how they think about material use. I’m dying to go back for a visit.
Dare we ask: Do you have a favorite child—ahem—piece? I do. And it’s the Coexist Marble and Brass Coffee Table. It came out exactly as I had imagined it, but it’s also quite substantial in weight so there was a chance that it wouldn’t work. After much finessing and carefully working the marble, we were able to make it come together really beautifully.
Tell us something random about yourself. The quirkier the better (please!).
I don’t snooze. I’m against it as a concept, and I’m also not a morning person at all, so getting out of bed is a struggle. My theory is that I’d rather set my alarm later to get the maximum amount of sleep possible, and when the alarm goes off I already know I’m cutting it close so I better get up. Also, my alarm is set to play French synthy electro sounds to make easing into waking life all the more delightful.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received lately? I was recently told: “If there’s no solution, why the aggravation? If there is a solution, why the aggravation?” I like that a lot because I think it puts everything in perspective. We either have a way forward and we take that route whatever it may be, or we find another route that brings us to where we need to go. I don’t like to get caught up in the aggravation that can come with work because at the end of the day, we are all just doing our best to create positivity for the world through design.