Potemine Ilia, the creative force behind the Italian furniture label BE+Have, sits on the fine line between product designer and artist. Potemine would probably say he’s neither. I would also chuck in ‘craftsman’ too, as all of BE+Have’s prototypes are always created by hand, with the artisan designer preferring traditional techniques over 3-D CAD. While is job title might remain ambiguous, what is definite is that this young designer has vision.
Recently exhibiting at Tent (part of London Design Festival) we had a few questions about Essentialism, favourite spaces and deciphering his website opener.
Q) Your work certainly captures the imagination, has there been any particular design movements or creative disciplines that have influenced your work?
The Spontaneo Insieme collection was clearly inspired by a famous Italian design current of the 80’s. I think a lot of people forgot about Memphis and young people don’t know about it, so I really wanted to bring it back because I think it was a really special period with great architects and great minds.
Q) How does ‘Essentialism’ as a concept impact your work? What came first – the interest in the philosophy or the aesthetic?
When I started thinking about design, minimalism was the trend. Everybody was making this beautiful furniture straight and white. I wanted to create something new that was more “naked” than minimalism.
Essentialism is about the essence, I have started to use raw materials with no protection coatings rough chain saw cuts, then I’ve added the contrast theme, I have divided the piece in two, one part was rough and squared the other one was rounded and smooth.
I have always thought that contrast attracts the attention of the mind. We can say that essentialism is an aesthetic philosophy.
Q) What’s the point of difference for you to prototype your work by hand rather than through 3-D? How do you feel this process effects the outcome?
I believe that the process is more important than the result. If the process was excellent so the result will be the same. Since I am not a designer – I really feel design more like art so here the process begins to be really important. I get 100% satisfaction when I create things.
My process is really easy, I think, I draw, I make. I believe that my pieces are my sons and daughters so I really want them to be part of me and I want me to be part of them. I would like to give them part of my soul and part of my sweat. The idea is important but the way you make it is more important. Sometimes I feel like a sort of a PAPA CARLO from Pinocchio tale. 3D is really cool but I – you – can’t feel the object you are creating. You can’t use the sense of perception which is really important in a piece. 3d is just a vision. I love touching, smelling and hearing the objects I make. Materials are alive.
Q) Where or what is your favourite space and why?
Well of course my workshop! It’s a place where I just travel in other dimension. I get out of common life and start a sort of a material life with objects. We exchange feelings and emotions. Since I have a double personality, I also love the ocean and the waves. I find a lot of things in common between design and surfing. It’s all about using nature and manipulating molecules of water or wood. Then it’s always good to have an exhaust valve for the usual and everyday life.
Q) “Beplushave is the gap between the idea and the consideration, it’s the space between eyes and focus.” Hand claps for the poetic intro on the site; so what exactly goes on in this space?
It is really easy to imagine. When I was thinking about BE+Have, I was sitting on a train coming from my workshop to Torino. I was always impressed by speed and the crossbeams that were becoming one long thing that you can’t recognize. I was trying just to focus on one crossbeam I could see it for a second and then it faded away. So I thought that that we see thousands of things every day, magazines, blogs, news, shops and everything looks beautiful so BE+ have is supposed to be something completely different from what we see today. It can be even something ugly or terrible but it is the beam that I see and what you can distinguish when the train runs 180 km/h.
Q) What’s next for Be+have?
I don’t know yet, I don’t make big plans – we are currently presenting the new LAMPADE ALTE lamp around Europe and the next exhibition will be in Torino, my hometown.
The next… will be certainly Milan and a completely new collection of works.