I’ve been one of Mika Barr biggest fans since I first bumped into her graduation project
back in 2009. And you know me, once I fall in love, it’s practically a love affair (exhibit a
. exhibit b
). Mika is one of these rare textile designers who know how to re-invent themselves time after time and each and every time the outcome is a textile piece of heaven! It was only a matter of time until I asked Mika to join me on my One On One Break
. So… I’ll let Mika do the talking, you want to hear what she has to say… Lights. Camera. Action! www.mikabarr.com
I’d love to hear about you, your journey, how it all began.
I’m 29 y/o, born and raised in Israel (Ra’anana
, to be precise). As a child I was exposed to a lot of art and at about 15 I realized that it affected me…
I Graduated my B.Design at the Shenkar College
in 2009, later in mid 2010 moved to Milan, there I completed a post graduate course, that was followed by an internship at Material Connexion Milan
(Milan’s material library). When I returned to Israel I started working independently.
Where do you live, what do you like about it and how does it affect your creations?
I live in Ramat-Gan. I loooove the fact that it’s near the park (Hayarkon)
. I like that it’s super close to Tel-Aviv and that I have action and quiet, subjected to my choice. However I’m not that sure if it affects my creation. Maybe it’s just a reflection of the fact that I like cities, with a healthy balance of nature here and there.
What does a normal day in your life look like?
Well… I get up and from there it’s a mix of: COFFEE. food. studio. computer. screen-printing. errands. meetings. and at the end of it all I’m back home. You can mix the order and multiply some words but those are the common ingredients.
What are the advantages/disadvantages of being an Israeli based designer?
Advantages… ummm let me think… As much as I like Israel, I think it’s hard to be an independent designer around here. Having said that, I do have to admit that there is now a growing awareness to the importance of local design. We are starting to receive some support from funds that recognize that
young entrepreneurs and designers constitute a group by themselves, with specific needs and challenges. Other advantages are born of disadvantages – we don’t have any large scale manufacturers here, so we find our own resourceful, economic ways of self production. Necessity is the mother of invention, right?
What makes you different from other Israeli designers?
I see my working with 3D soft surfaces as an aspect that individualizes me from other designers, not just Israeli. It also unifies me with others, because it’s a “hot” field of design these days.
Can you describe your work process for me?
It usually starts from an idea of trying something new in terms of material or pattern or a combination of the two. Then I start experimenting, and from there it takes on a life of its own…
As a textile designer, you often collaborate with other designers. What is it like and what do you look for in collaboration?
First of all, we need to have a good starting point in terms of communication. We need to respect each others point of view. I prefer to collaborate with designers that have skills or design characteristics different from mine, I think that’s what makes a good collaboration and can lead to great outcomes. Plus, it’s fun (!!!)
Is there anything in particular that fuels your creativity as a designer?
For me it’s all about nature and it’s flowers and plants.
Also a good magazine can be a creativity booster.
Which place in the world most inspires you and why?
The Milan design scene is definitely an inspiration, but I like to go every once in a while to Gan HaSlaim (Rock Garden), One of the special gardens in Ganei Yehoshua
(Park Hayarkon). I find that there is something magical in that hidden garden.
Could you share with us your progression as a designer, compared to when you first started out, how have you changed since then?
I have grown as a person as well as a designer since I graduated.
As an independent person, I learned that you have to also know how to explain and market yourself. My design process has become more focused and “down to earth”. Even if I am making a piece for an exhibition, I still try to be as efficient as I can.
Are there any up and coming designers you admire?
I really like Patricia Urquiola
but she’s not that up and coming… She practically rules Milan. I also like Cristian Zuzunaga
, a great graphic/visual designer with a distinguished language. And I also like Raw Edges
, they are wonderful!
What was one of your biggest lessons learned since starting out?
That patience is the mother of all virtues.
What do you find most rewarding about your career?
That I create my day, everyday. Also, when I get good feedback from a customer on one of my products – that’s a really incredible feeling.
At the age of 20, what did you think you were going to do “as a grown up” – where do you see yourself in the future? Has your dream come true already?
I’m definitely living my dream everyday. Of course I don’t feel that I’m “there” yet, but it’s really great working everyday in order to “make it”. Who knows, maybe it will always feel like I’m not “there” yet… that’s why I appreciate what I do each and every day and try to enjoy (or at least appreciate) the difficult parts as well.
The funny thing is that at age 20 (after the mandatory military service), I had a short period in which I thought to approach design as a hobby and to go study advertisement …
I’m so happy I didn’t!
And finally, please share with us something nobody knows about you.
Well, some people do know that but it’s time to share it with the rest of the world – I have strong groupie tendencies and I absolutely adore Berry Sakharof