Melbourne: Ben-Tovim Design marries old-world hand-craftsmanship, elemental materials and new-age technology to create beautiful confident and simple contemporary lighting and furniture.
Founded by Jonathan Ben-Tovim in 2011 as an industrial design consultancy with an in-house range of lighting and furniture, the brand explores a patchwork of cultural exposure and experiences in Jonathan’s designs. As the designer prepares to head to Dubai Design Week for Destination, Made Journal spoke to him about his work.
Could you please tell us a bit more about Ben-Tovim Design?
Ben-Tovim Design is a small industrial design practice based in Melbourne that has a growing range of made to order lighting and furniture pieces. I often work closely with architects and interior designers on the development of new pieces, as well as custom one-off designs.
Contextual design, craftsmanship and local materials seem to be central to your work?
Yes, I often start a project with a material I find interesting and a fabrication process I want to explore. This is naturally dictated by what I can source locally. The recent Up-Down Pendant range has really been about mixing contrasting natural materials such as river stone or volcanic glass with very refined and polished metal finishes. Craftsmanship always plays a role, because a lot of the pieces are finished or assembled in the studio.
As well as design, you are also very hands on in your studio, does being involved in the ‘making’ of your designs help to inform the design process?
Absolutely, the making process for each design strongly dictates the outcome. All my pieces are at least partly fabricated or assembled in my studio. So in some ways I am limited by the processes I have access to, but that can be a catalyst for a new direction. For example the Rough Diamond range uses 3D printed joints and standard hand cut and polished tube. I used this process so I can easily adapt and evolve the shape of the fixture. This wouldn’t be possible if I was outsourcing the fabrication in larger quantities.
Ben-Tovim Design is based in Melbourne, Australia but you’ve worked and exhibited internationally, do you find this global outlook influences your work?
I spent a number of years studying in Holland and working in the UK before coming back to Australia. This certainly opened my eyes to different influences and a range of different design practices. In Holland there were a lot more hands-on designer makers working like artists in Ateliers . The Australian design scene is a lot more down-to-earth, focusing less on exhibitions and more on commercial projects. I think both models really have their own merits. I think my practice sits somewhere in the middle!
Finally, what can we expect to see from Ben-Tonim Design at ‘Destination Dubai’
Melbourne Design week has curated a stand that is focused on lighting, so you will see my favourite lighting pieces from the Ben-Tovim Design range, plus a few new materials that haven’t been exhibited before.