Growing up in Tel Aviv, Avi Ben Shoshan possessed a constant need to make things and found ways to entertain himself with various materials. He’s completely self-taught, having experimented with dressmaking, drawing, dyeing fabrics, and furniture building. He dove most deeply into ceramics; the various methods and its history. This deep-dive led Ben Shoshan to fall madly in love with this ancient craft, and open a studio called ABS.
We believe in the importance of slow-living. How does this relate to your craft?
I think that the slow-living lifestyle has a clear connection to craftsmanship. Working with traditional and natural materials such as ceramics, there is something beautiful that happens to the body when it touches clay. It’s relaxing, it’s quite primal, and the traditional techniques are still relevant today. I think it’s important to learn how to work with and how to manipulate materials that nature gave us. The most important thing for me is the relationship between the body and the materials during the process.
What inspires your work?
In my work, I explore the complex relationship between objects and the human body and the aesthetics inspired by the historical and cultural Mediterranean. The studio emphasizes the philosophy of functional objects as well as natural materials, colors, and shapes. I believe my work presents a certain local aesthetic. The language of my studio is inspired by the natural colors and forms of the Middle East. All objects are produced in a traditional way and all are hand-made in Tel Aviv.
Tell us about your design process.
I’m always looking forward, always thinking, reading, sketching, and sculpting. A new object can be inspired by experiencing a different point of view, something I’ve read, a movie I’ve seen, art I’ve enjoyed, craftsmanship of any kind, and more. I believe that the foundation for my work is rooted in historical and ancient objects from different cultures. I begin with several drawings and sketches, physical models, and 3-D computer models. At the end of the design process, I print a 3-D model and from it create a plaster mold for the clay.
You also create objects intended for food. What inspired that?
I discovered my passion for food eight years ago and started playing around in the kitchen, teaching myself how to use new products. I worked in a few restaurants in Tel Aviv as a cook. My interest in food and in tactility lead me to the inspection of the human body and its different parts, shapes, and movement, in an attempt to create a passionate connection between the body and an object. Where my process begins to create things for food is mainly with observation. How people eat, how they interact with their food. I’m also attempting to focus on the meaning of the traditional way of eating and how objects can challenge the natural and traditional way of eating.
What are you working on right now?
At the moment I’m building my brand, ABS Object. I believe that I’ll be working on a new culinary project soon. I also want to expand my studio products, and to go back to working with wood, textile, glass, and metal. I want to create other objects such as furniture, fashion accessories, food utensils, and home goods.
We featured your beautiful vases in the Maapilim pop-up store in NY. The store design was inspired by Grecian rooftops. They were the perfect fit. What’s your connection to Mediterranean aesthetic and culture?
I think my connection to the Mediterranean aesthetic and culture comes from my home. I remember that I was always amazed by the objects my grandparents brought with them from Morocco, Iraq, and Turkey. The colors, shapes, materials, and craftsmanship always fascinated me. I remember my first time observing the Israeli museum’s archeology collection. I felt so connected to those pieces of history, jewelry, ceramics, textile works, and more. It was always my favorite thing to do, to imagine how people created those objects, how they used them, and of course the natural materials they used. It’s very interesting, the history of Israel. So many cultures used to live in this area.