Sculptural artist Iftah Geva was born in Israel and has made a name for himself globally via his astoundingly beautiful and incredibly balanced abstract sculptures. Iftah studied Industrial Design in college and founded a company called “Life Assistant” with a business partner named Gal Goldner. The company’s mission was to develop and design technological innovations to help people who are aging. Shortly thereafter, the two men worked for the company called “ABA Science Play” where they developed projects for cutting-edge and uniquely innovative playgrounds.

Given his dedication to helping others and bringing joy to the world, it is perhaps unsurprising that Iftah has made a career out of creating artwork and designing functional items such as furniture and decorative pieces of jewelry. Some of his creations are part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City and he was proud to be featured in the exhibition titled “Crafted: Objects in Flux” at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the exhibition "Wood, Revisited" at The Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia, as well as with Agora Gallery at the ICFF, New York, in 2017.

Iftah recently discussed his career working as an artist and designer and his plans for the future via an exclusive interview.

Styles, mediums, and sculptures

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get interested in art and how many styles and mediums do you work with?

Iftah Geva (IG): It's hard to say how exactly I got to become a professional artist. I have always loved the process of creating through experimenting with new mediums and materials.

For ten years it was more of a hobby, but in the past two years, I became fully dedicated to my art. Currently, I am working on my Carbon sculptures collection. I am still fascinated by them because I feel there is still a great deal to explore. The ideas for my sculptures come from… Well… My life: my fields of interest, the environment I grew up in (nature surrounds my kibbutz in the north of Israel), social interactions, as well as from mental processes that I go through.

My sculptures reflect my thoughts and feelings that emerge inside me, during the process of their making.

MM: You make wonderfully balanced sculptures so how exactly do you design them?

IG: Once I decide about the particular form and movement of the sculpture (a long process that involves countless sketches), I build the model on my computer in a 3D software. I calculate the center of gravity that is optimal for the unique movement that I plan to achieve. Carbon fibers are very strong and light weighted and therefore allow me to build very thin, yet solid, shells that form the outer structure of the sculpture.

Afterward, I balance them with weight-stones incorporated within the sculpture. What influences the final motion of the sculpture is the positioning of the weight-stones, the total weight of the sculpture (including the layers of paint) and the location of its center of gravity. For instance, figure-skating performers spread out their hands in order to create a slow spin or bring their arms close to their bodies when they want the rotation of the spin to be quicker. This is to illustrate how two body masses that are similar can produce different movement when you distribute the weight in different ways.

In my process, there is always room for trial and error until the perfect balance is achieved.

MM: Have you a favorite piece of art and, if so, why one and why?

IG: I don’t necessarily prefer one of my artworks over the others. When I work on a particular sculpture, during that time I delve deep into the ideas behind it and it fully occupies me. This process is exciting and empowering for me as a human being. Also, each new artwork presents a technical challenge, and that too is very interesting and educating.

The historical artworks and styles which interest me the most are the ones that I consider meticulous; the ones in which an artist invested endless hours of thought and planning, from concept to composition and execution.

The art making that involves countless details that connect to create a piece. For me, these are all the giants of the Renaissance, then the painter Aivazovsky, recognized for his amazing sea creatures, as well as Anish Kapoor, whom I very much like. When I look at a work of art or listen to one, the final result is, in my opinion, the most important part. At the end of the process, a piece should be perceived as beautiful and interesting.

MM: What prompted you to start "Life Assistant" and why was it important to you to help the elderly?

IG: The idea for Life Assistant was conceived when I was trying to help a mother of a good friend of mine.

This amazing energetic woman had an osteoporosis that limited her mobility and independence. So, I started to build all kinds of devices to help her get up. Together with another friend, Gal Goldner, I decided to establish Life Assistant, a company for building various assistance devices, with the idea of restoring independence to disabled people, with an emphasis on the elderly population. The first products were heavy and very clumsy and unstable, yet each time we gave them to someone, they found them very useful. The understanding that the Western world is getting older, that there are many people who will benefit from such products, and the belief that the healthiest and best thing for the elderly is to remain independent has pushed us to establish Life Assistance.

My role in the company is more of an engineer.

Playgrounds and other projects

MM: "ABA Science Play" sounds amazing! What kinds of playgrounds have you invented and have they been installed anywhere yet?

IG: Gal and I had a business that was offering engineering and inventive services. At one point, we met an entrepreneur who invited us to invent and plan the interpolations for museums and public parks. It was an amazing project. What we tried to do with it was to incorporate in every facility what we called "a swing effect." A swing effect is the feeling of simplicity and sensations that a child would feel; an object that would attract us to sit on it, even if we are already parents or grandparents.

The challenge was to introduce into every scientific idea this genuine joy of instant experiencing. The implemented installations were various game-like mobiles, for example, a helicopter-shaped turnstile which could be moved by pedals and transformed into a shade that follows the sun.

MM: You also design furniture and jewelry, so how did you get into that and what are some of your favorite pieces?

IG: I just enjoy exploring and experimenting with new things. The combination of materials - whether it's wood or stone with carbon fiber - seems interesting to me, I'm just at the beginning of the process.

I have already discovered ways to challenge formal qualities of particular materials, and how they can be flexible and shaped in a manner that were not possible in the past. I have a lot of ideas waiting in my notebook for jewelry designs.

MM: How important do you feel the link between art and design is and do you think that abstract forms can translate well to playful projects such as playgrounds?

IG: For me, design and art are the same things- I cannot tell the difference. In my work, I do everything myself; from the initial idea and preliminary sketches, then elaborating the concept on my computer, and finally manufacturing, painting, and packaging.

The fact that I am involved in the whole process allows me to learn from my mistakes. The next time, I do it better. This is all one process, that is fully committed to the excellence of the final object or, in this case, playground. For example, the Eiffel Tower - is this a superb idea and engineering, a design piece, or an art creation? In my opinion, it is all of those things.

MM: What is coming up next for your project and artwork wise?

IG: In the past two years, I have been working towards my solo exhibition that will include about thirty sculptures. I want to create all of them based on the principles of balance, without any help of external energy source.

My vision is that these objects will stay "alive and kick" even in a hundred years from now on when their non-requirement for electrical energy will look even more outstanding. Check my website for updates concerning current and future projects.

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