As part of Design Miami/ Basel's Design at Large 2019 program, Friedman Benda will present an installation by Israeli designer Erez Nevi Pana (b. 1983). The exhibition will debut works from his acclaimed Bleached series. Motivated by the consequences of mineral extraction in the Dead Sea, with this body of work Nevi Pana imagines a possible constructive outcome from humanity’s interference with nature. For Bleached, Nevi Pana submerges wooden structures encased in luffa into the Dead Sea—leaving them to crystallize like coral formations. Transforming these minerals into otherworldly, architectural forms, Nevi Pana comments on the convergence of the organic with the ornate. Bleached was nominated for the Design Museum’s Beazley Designs of the Year award in 2018, and will be included in the upcoming Design Triennial at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and Cube design museum.
Through Bleached, Nevi Pana explores the potential of design research and development, and asks how can it influence and reposition material consumption. Bleached encompasses the idea that everything is interconnected: the shrinking of the Dead Sea, the extraction of potash to fertilize the soil for agriculture from which we feed cattle, the gas emissions from animal farming such as methane and carbon dioxide, the global warming and the bleached corals — all are linked to one another in a ripple effect of human actions.
For the project, Nevi Pana created totemic objects that were dipped in the fifth pond of the Dead Sea. Each object is covered with locally-sourced luffa which is then submerged in the sea allowing the sponge-like fiber soaks up the salt and the object itself acts as a salt pump. The luffa becomes a habitat for the growing crystals which in turn, strengthen the ties between the wooden elements by consolidating them into one strong piece. Aside from the overarching metaphors inherent to salt, the salt plays a technical role as a binding agent.
Beyond the specific and poignant symbolism, Bleached offers a new way to speak about design. It suggests responsible, ethical, and sustainable process. It’s an expression which encourages reflection and re-thinking about materials used by designers, buy as consumers, and neglect as a society.
Nevi Pana's approach is informed by his veganism and animal rights activism and he was the winner of PETA's Vegan Homeware Award for Innovation in 2018. Nevi Pana earned his BA in Design from the Holon Institute of Technology and an MA from the Design Academy Eindhoven where his thesis focused on the recrystallization of salt, and is currently researching the topic of vegan design as a doctoral candidate at the University of Art and Design in Linz, Austria.