Known for his obsessive fascination with craftsmanship, one of Arbel’s first recognizable projects to emerge was the 2.4 chair. Arbel arduously poured 50 layers of colored resin to create the form, which took about 175 hours straight to produce. Due to its labor-intensive process, 2.4 never went into commercial production and only 20 were ever made. Notably, it was in these early stages that Arbel developed his philosophy of material exploration and began chronologically numbering his projects.
In 2005, it was the chandelier concept 14 that sparked Arbel’s relationship with Bocci co-founder Randy Bishop. Together they launched the 14 series into production, creating Bocci’s first award-winning product. In an interview with Modern Home Victoria, Arbel says, “The materials or technical ‘discovery’ which we find while experimenting with materials, is the poetic engine.”
When production began for the iconic spherical glass bulbs of 14, he said they arrived at a fork in the road. As the glass molded into a hemisphere, a smaller orb formed inside; if they chose to create a perfect sphere by fixing the imperfection, the magic would be lost. So the decision to celebrate a material’s natural form has continued to direct Arbel’s, and subsequently Bocci’s, creative process.
Whether experimenting alongside glass blowers or sand blasters, Arbel leads his team to rigorously showcase the unique qualities of a material. After the 14 series came the commercial successes of 21, 28, 38 and 57, each with a signature twist on the original hollow blown-glass bulbs.
Beyond lighting, Bocci has developed design objects for the home such as sand-casted brass bowls (19), and flush electrical wall accessories (22). Arbel’s work with Bocci and his personal practice, OAO, has also attracted the attention of over 20 international design awards — each recognizing his poetic experiments in material manipulation.
Written by Alyson Strike
Headline photo by Gwenael Lewis