By Sarah Medford
Past and future collide in the furniture of Paris-based designer Raphael Navot, whose first U.S. gallery show opens October 27.
Navot’s first job in his native Jerusalem was using 3-D printing, then a cutting-edge technology, to model ancient temple landscapes for preservationists. Now 45 and a designer based in Paris, Navot is still thinking about how we should situate ourselves between the old and new worlds. His latest furniture collection convincingly mixes both. Made of materials like oak, concrete, fossilized stone and fiberglass, the pieces on view from October 27 at Friedman Benda’s New York gallery are complex and somehow familiar, like memories. A desk of aged wood is an earthbound cirrus cloud, all swoops and slopes; a ledge-shaped sofa stretching more than 12 feet “sort of tells you how to use it,” says Navot, nodding to his belief in “the mental comfort of furniture.”
“Raphael is a designer with a focus on the intimacy between objects and those living with them,” says Marc Benda, who worked with Navot for four years leading up to this first solo show. Its title, On the Same Subject, refers to the pleasures of exploring one theme as opposed to flitting between projects, Navot’s usual mode; his clients include Roche Bobois, Loro Piana and a variety of hoteliers. He did the interiors for the Hôtel Belle Plage in Cannes, where a new spa just opened, and for the Hôtel Dame des Arts, which debuts in November near Notre-Dame in Paris. With any of his designs, he says, the question is, “How will it age? In this time of anti-aging, I think we should be pro-aging.”