A pair of Israeli designers has turned alleyway graffiti into fine furniture with the help of some unwitting street artists in their south Tel Aviv neighborhood. It’s ersatz “WickiFurniture” made up anonymous contributions by anyone acting on an urge to create.
Ariel Zuckerman and Eran Shimshovitz screwed large wooden panels onto exterior walls near their workshop, choosing specific sites popular with Tel Aviv street artists. Then they waited, checking progress early every morning. At first, the boards were ignored, but the artists soon succumbed. Zuckerman told Slate that they wanted to achieve a spontaneous result, and so left no instructions for the artists nor did they publicize the project in advance.
Timid pencil sketches were followed by dabs of paint and the artwork evolved. Days passed, and when the design duo were satisfied with a piece, they unscrewed it and returned to their workshop.
They milled the panels into smaller components, fashioning them into a series of simply-shaped furniture. Their first piece was the “Zerifin 35” console (see lead image), named after the street where the graffiti art was made. The vibrantly colored series is called “Street Capture” and it includes a console, coffee table, and end tables.
The designers view the project as a way to preserve the “spirit of a disaffected area of disappearing wood workshops“. The neighborhood is returning to life as young craftsmen set up new businesses in abandoned storefronts; after dark, the area turns from work to play with organically arranged music and art events.
In instances where the graffiti artists signed their work, Zuckerman contacted them to ask permission to sell the resulting furniture; the artists get 15 percent of profits. He said that since word has gotten out, the graffiti experiment is now “more of a collaboration”, with plans to produce a series of limited-edition tables featuring different paintings.
The project can be viewed as a brilliant exploitation of the commons; converting public walls into a factory (with a highly organic workforce) that creates sell-able art for re-use as functional furniture. Collaboration is key to its success. See the process in play in the video below:
What do the artists think about seeing their paintings deconstructed? “The artists usually love it because the result is surprising and new to them,” Zuckerman said, adding that the furniture brought a new dimension to their two-dimensional paintings.
Images from Slate and Yoav Gurin