John Yonatan Jacoby: A Line, A Distance, A Map Of Design

by Ross Belfer | 29.09.15

photo 1-Recovered

Photo by Aner Gelem

John Yonatan Jacoby is more than just a designer. A soft and enigmatic structure coated in black with fluorescent fauna omitting light beams intertwined into one seamless web, John Yonatan Jacoby translates his personal inspirations, desires and influences into tangible form.

Often referred to as JYJ, Jacoby is a hyphenate of mass proportions. He ideates and hand-builds sets for fashion photography shoots; holistically builds furniture pieces, cabinetry, lamps and light pieces for private clientele; and can conceptualize, construct and deliver just about any creative or artistic project thrown at him, all in one single bound.

Superman he is not, but glaringly talented art director, artisan and human being he is. I sat down with John Yonatan Jacoby in his studio-apartment-living quarters (hand-built and designed by the man himself, of course), last Thursday to pick his brain about his influences, inspirations, ideas and life in general. Here’s what he said.

Name: John Yonatan Jacoby
Age: 27
Neighborhood: South Tel Aviv
Occupation: Art Director (Cinema) & Interior Design

studio at work (1)

What are your biggest influences and inspirations as a designer/artist?
I am influenced by different disciplines of art & design. These inspirations touch my works but not as directly as subject-to-subject and matter-to-matter. They include mainly installation art, architecture and cinema. My main influences are: Tadashi Kawamata, Louise Nevelson, Gordon Matta Clark, Roy Anderson, Lars Von Trier, Mies Van Der Rhoe, Louis Kahn.

studio at work copy (1)

How do you see the relationship between all of the varying elements and materials you work with — and what is your idea of the connection between wood, metals, fabric and other materials?
The main elements of my designs are wood, metal, perspex and plants. The plantation and wood refer to the green ecological living that is missing in our urban life while the metal refers to the rough unnatural materials of urbanism, the Perspex I use as the “missing material” in order to “erase” parts of the object to make it lighter and mysterious in a way. When put together, they create an harmonic relation rather than a contradicting one – a kind of relation I think the city should have with the ecological green ideology as well as in my aesthetics.

Illy Auerbach Kitchen (1)

What about Tel Aviv inspires you? What are your favorite elements and characteristics of the city?
What inspires me mostly about Tel Aviv is the people that live in it. I have never met such passionate, creative and ambitious people anywhere else, maybe since being in the arts in such a small country that most of it’s resources and focus goes to the defense offices,  one has to be extremely creative and driven to survive in the arts.

Ross Befler Plant Division by JYJ (1)

How would you describe your work in furniture and set design? Do you envision final pieces before hand, or shift, evolve and create during the building process? How much of your work is mapped out beforehand and how much space do you leave for the mechanics of change?
In all areas of design I work in there is a very specific work process. In set design, both the script and the character influence the aesthetics, since the setting always has to be authentic in order to tell the story. Whilst regarding furniture and interiors, especially when making the objects with your own two hands, one has more freedom and play but to a certain extent. All in all, the design is always mapped out clearly beforehand, and in my opinion that is one of the main differences of the work process between art and design.

Ross Befler Desk by JYJ

Where do you see yourself in five years — both as a designer and human?
As a designer, I hope my business will keep growing and advancing and I would be able to always better myself in the different disciplines of design I practice. As a human, I hope I will nourish my bourgeois tendencies.


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