• I can’t believe it’s been a year since my last One On One interview. Oh well, I guess that’s what makes today’s interview much more special. And it’s super special to begin with!
    I’ve been following Dikla Levsky‘s printed footsteps ever since she graduated back in 2009 and I can’t stop being amazed by her drive and passion towards the world of printed textile.
    When I first wrote about her Art to Wear collection last year, I knew it was just the beginning of something good. Real good.
    Dikla is one of those who aren’t afraid of color. In fact, she loves playing with colors, experimenting, getting her hands messy and being surprised by the end result. And I? I’m so inspired by her mad talent that I had to find out all I could about her and her creative process. I’m so in love with everything that comes out out of Dikla’s hands and hearing her talk about it all made a lot of sense. So… I better let her start talking.
  • I’d love to hear about your journey, how it all began.
    I was born and raised in Kibbutz Ramat Hashofet, Israel. A kibbutz is a small collective community based on socialism and agriculture. As a young girl, my dream was to become a dancer. Growing up, I was trained as a professional dancer, in the Kibbutz Dance Company Professional School.
    Moving to the big city of Tel Aviv, I discovered new worlds. My eyes were suddenly open to art and design in ways I was never exposed to before.
    In the kibbutz, because it was such a small community, I was exposed to art and design in a specific way, which affected me to do very naive and pastoral imagery. Only when I moved to Tel Aviv did I start to realize that I have a certain taste, a certain attraction to colors, to design, to art.
    Though I came to Tel Aviv to be a dancer, I was injured very quickly and suddenly felt quite lost. And for some reason, (I’m sure this was the hand of fate), I was drawn to Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, to the textile design department, although at the time I didn’t know what textile design was. So I decided to apply, and simply through the interview process I realized that I had arrived at the right place.
    During my four years of studying I had so much fun, specifically in the textile printing workshop. I understood then, that I had a certain attraction to the world of printing and juxtaposing colors, placing them one next to another, and layering patterns.
    When I graduated, I knew I had to do something on my own, so I didn’t search for a job at all. Instead, I gathered a few friends and colleagues who wanted the same things I did: a creative, inspiring, supportive workspace.
  • Where do you live, what do you like about it and how does it affect your creations?
    I live in the center of Tel Aviv, in a very nice neighborhood, that has about everything in it. I feel that Israel is a junction of many cultures because the population came from so many different countries.
    I’m really interested by this combination of traditions.
    What are the advantages/disadvantages of being an Israeli based designer?
    Israel is a young country without a long tradition of design, especially textile design, so the market is very small. While Israel used to have a big textile industry, it no longer does. And now, it’s very hard to work here and produce. It’s hard to be a textile designer in Israel, in the sense that there is a lack of industry and small suppliers. This dynamic affects the way I work because it provides me limitations and creates boundaries, which force me to invent new ways in which I want to work, challenging me to be more creative in my solutions.
    On one hand, because I want to produce textiles myself, I need to be much more creative and assertive in order to overcome these limitations.
    On the other hand, I don’t need to obey the rules of the industry because there are none! While it does provide a challenge for producing, it also forces the designers to find new solutions to manifest their ideas and often they are pushed to do things that that might not have originally.
  • Which materials do you work with?
    I work in a very traditional way for a textile designer. I like to draw first with designer goash pigments. Nowadays I am very attracted by the luxuriousness of silk and also the roughness and neutral style of linen. Working with synthetic fibers is completely different. Each fiber has its own printing methods and specific technique to work with, which allows me to experiment with their unique processes.
    What makes you different from other Israeli designers?
    I think I have a strong connection and attraction to colors that are not very common to Israeli designers. I am proud to say that I am not afraid of color. There is so much use of neutral colors here, from the clothing to the houses, and so I would say that my use of color, and my bold way of layering textures and images sets me apart.
  • Can you describe your work process?
    My designs always begin as unique hand painted works which are later translated to different textile print techniques. In my pieces there is a mix of both traditional and contemporary textile motifs and designs. I use very traditional methods such as hand drawn sketches and silk screen printing, but also use newer technology in order to create my visual world.
    My designs always begin as a drawing, and though I use different print techniques, I specialize in silk screening, this is really my true love.
    Silk screening is a very traditional way of printing. Basically, the images I create are being photographed to a screen in a way that I can then control where the color is being distributed onto the fabric.
    What does a normal day in your life look like?
    After dropping my son, my sweet son, in the kindergarten, I go happily to my studio. Everyday looks different, sometimes I draw new designs, sometimes I print, and sometimes I am screen printing, some days I mix colors…. (That being said, I am fanatic about mixing colors. I won’t stop mixing the color until it’s a perfect fit to what I have in my mind). I absolutely love experimenting in the studio with materials and colors, to see what comes out of it. I take a lot of influence and inspiration from the surroundings of my studio, from my colleagues, and from simply looking around me. I also feel particularly inspired by other cultures.
  • As a textile designer, you often collaborate with other designers or brands. What is it like and what do you look for in collaboration?
    In the past, companies were buying my designs and using them for their own collections. Currently, I am looking forward to new collaborations (very interesting ones) that are about to develop. I like to work with other designers and companies in hopes of blending my visual world with their specific aesthetics towards a new creative direction.
    What is the most unusual piece you have ever designed and which one was your first?
    In my studio I have many unusual experiments that haven’t been translated yet to pieces or projects. When I first started with the neon colors that were new to my creative world at the time, it was very exciting when my pieces were chosen for the Trend Forum of Heimtextil Fair in Frankfurt, to be presented as the new upcoming trend of mixing cultures and combining worlds. It was thrilling to know that what I drew in my Tel Aviv studio can reflect a global trend.
    Is there anything in particular that fuels your creativity as a designer?
    In my process I don’t go to just one avenue or inspirational source. While this might sound cliche, I like to be a citizen of the world. I find inspiration in everything, and feel blessed to be able to communicate and see so many cultures and visuals from all over the world; this is truly a gift for a creative person. I try to keep my eyes open in order to process all the inspirational stimuli around me, in hopes that I can then filter it into my own metaphoric handwriting.
  • Can you tell me which designers inspire you?
    I am a big fan of textile designers. I particularly love the work of Missoni, Kenzo, Tzuri Gueta and the designers of Marimekko; I really would love to work with any of them!
    What about some web sites and blogs that you visit when you’re in a need for a boost of creative inspiration?
    DesignBreak is one of my favorite blogs, which I like to check when I want to know what is new in the world of design.
  • Are there any up and coming designers that you like at the moment?
    I really, really love the whole waking up scene of textile designers in Israel. I feel a part of it, and feel like we here in “Studio 410″ are helping to create the scene. I am very inspired by the work of all my studio partners. Ranging from Mika Barr who creates three dimensional textiles, to Shira Shaval who is addicted to materials and is the head of the Material Library of Design Museum Holon, to Moriel Dezaldeti who creates beautiful knitted pieces, and Ariel Blonder who specializes in digital fabrication, and lastly Elena Luschilin, who works with fiber art in a modern fresh way.
    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?
    When I was younger I was sure I will become a dancer, but a change of plans made me into a textile designer. In the future my dream would be to have a fashion house. Ideally, i would like to sharpen my aesthetics so that my visual world would be recognized in an instant. From there, I aspire to collaborate with a wide range of designers, from top fashion designers to industrial designers, architects, interior designers, in order to bridge mediums and fields.
  • What was one of your biggest lessons learned since starting out?
    To always follow my instincts.
    What do you find most rewarding about your career?
    This is slowly happening now, my designs are starting to be recognized and as a designer I am starting to refine my world and make it more precise. As I continue to work I am finding that I am beginning to really zone in on my personal aesthetic and allow it to develop as my artistic voice.
  • What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    My teachers at the Shenkar College gave me a lot of good advice when I was a student, and most of it was related to me being true to who I am. Most of them told me to, “Stay who you are, continue to trust your hands and your instincts.”
  • What’s your favorite Israeli neighborhood and why?
    Neve Tzedek is my favorite neighborhood in Israel. It has this bohemian meets old atmosphere. It hosts the center for dance and cultivates creative endeavors.
    Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
    On my typical Saturday morning I am in the park, playing soccer with my beautiful 2.5 year old son.
    Israel’s best kept secret?
    The people! Warm, straight forward people, simply loving life.
    What are you working on right now?
    Currently, I’m presenting my work “Black/White” at the first Biennial Textile Exhibition at Eretz Israel Museum. While in the studio, I’m working on a new collection that is connected to ethnic influences. This time, however, I’m shifting my balance to the ethnic world of the Far East. This is my starting point but we will see how it goes! Again, it will be about cultures that are clashing to create a cultural hybrid.
  • And finally, please share with us something nobody knows about you.
    I would love to be a music editor for a day.

    {Photos by Michael Topyol. Behind the scenes photos by Kate Enman. Bottom photo by Netta Casher}