It’s the kind of stuff that could inspire Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” – Israel’s Yoav Kotik is finding treasures in discarded objects, by fashioning trash into flower gardens, jewelry, lamps and objects of art.
The 50-year-old industrial designer is now exhibiting his recycled floral bouquets Spring at Tel Aviv’s Periscope Design Gallery. Featured in the world’s prestigious Design Boom magazine, Kotik talks with ISRAEL21c about the special world he has created from other peoples’ junk.
Environmental preservation, though a good thing he says, is not his main motive: “I am not coming from the green side,” he says. “I like the materials that are around me and collect the things, what are today called ‘waste,’ from factories. These are my materials, and I guess I am going in a parallel line with the green movement.”
Late last year, Kotik created a sensation in Tokyo, where he showcased his bottle cap jewelry at a Design Boom event. Some are one-offs, and others come as a limited edition series.
A graduate of Israel’s premiere art school, the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, Kotik wasn’t always growing flowers from soda cans, spinning chandeliers out of coffee cans, or creating jewelry from bottle lids.
After building an industrial design studio, and employing several people, Kotik switched gears and went to the field of insurance, where he ran operations in a company that provided a service to Israelis living abroad. Prior to that he was working with off-road military vehicles.
The married father of three who lives in Moshav Mishmeret, north of Tel Aviv, doesn’t let his age stop him from pursuing new interests, now in arts and crafts, despite the fact that the people who he shares booths with at design fairs are usually in their early 20s.
“A few years ago I was at a crafts fair in the UK, and I decided that I wanted to go back,” he says. Today in Mishmeret where he keeps his studio, daisies – well recycled ones at least -are sprouting up all over.
“Right now I am working with bottle caps in the fashion field,” he says, “But all the time I am finding new materials, like rubber from tires, now part of my flowers exhibit in Tel Aviv.”
Using the rubber as the base of the floral display, Kotik admits that he likes the smell: “It connects me to industry, and I don’t want to cut that connection.”
A friend of the late Israeli potter and artist Udi Even, it was through Even’s death, that Kotik connected to the internationally-exhibited arts collective, The Zik Group, of which Kotik is now part.
Combining his time between performing with Zik, and crafting goods in his studio, Kotik believes that there is “enough room in this world” for his recycled creations, even if his work doesn’t yet pay all the bills.
Constantly looking for new “treasures” lying out in the streets, he also wanders around factories to see what’s left over for him to use. Maybe one day he’ll meet Cohen’s Suzanne there too, among the garbage and the flowers