The man who is just “playing”
A well known designer Alex Levy talked to ELLE about his passions and his children, about arts and ambitions of his Czech colleagues.
Did you know that one can actually buy some of your works here in Prague?
I loved one of them in particular – the beautiful Solid Liquid. Yes, of course I know, it can be found in Prague Kabinet gallery. Every single piece is unique, because I didn’t use forms for glass blowing while creating them, therefore each one of them looks different. Every piece is authentic in its own way. I like to compare it to how you “make” children – you can never predict what the outcome is going to be like…
What is your biggest passion?
I’m totally immersed in arts and design right now, also into cooking and spending time with my family. But I have to confess that I’m also very passionate about my role of a bad photographer. Basically it’s all what my life is about. My biggest passion is being happy.
How many children do you have?
I have an eighteen yeast old son and two daughters of six and four years old.
Do they all share the same mum?
Not really. I’ve actually used different technologies… (laughing) But for me, to be honest, this just means more things to take care of and more headaches (laughing).
Does your family accompany you when you travel around the world?
Yes, we try to do it as often as possible. But also I love taking kids to my studio. Unfortunately it happens very often today that children know what their mother does for living, but they have no idea about what their father works as. It seems like he leaves the house in the morning, closing the door, and then just comes back in the evening. This is why I started taking my son with me to the studio when he was four only. It is the age when children are full of passion for observing things, they ask questions and absorb knowledge really fast. It was funny to hear my son’s first reaction, he said “Daddy, you told me you were going to work, but I see you are just playing!” It was and it is the most flattering thing I’ve ever heard.
Your RockGrowth sculpture caught my attention, the one next to Atomium in Brussels…
Oh yes, that was a big challenge for me. Just think about it – each year there are two million people passing by, it is an incredible publicity! Atomium and RockGrowth are so contradictory standing in front of each other; still they claim the same message. I felt extremely grateful, when they finally revealed it and I saw people going there to check it from all the four sides and make pictures of it. I love observing people when they come to RockGrowth and start kissing spontaneously, when women check their lipstick in its specular surfaces and titivate themselves. It is a place where simply everyone can come and not any kind of snobbish gallery.
Though, you worked on a different, but not less unique, project in 2009 – the BigRock. And it is now situated in a certain private client’s garden. Don’t you feel a bit sorry about that?
Yes, it is exactly the way I feel about it. It is available for a couple of people only. But I have to be honest with you – there are many positives when it comes to installations I make for private customers. I get much more freedom working on those, I can be creative, I have the necessary space, the support and funding, which is very good for my work. But as you’ve already mentioned – yes, unfortunately only a couple of people can access them. This is why I published a book; it is called Out There, and it represents a collection of my works made for private clients.
You teamed up with some Czech companies recently, such as Lasvit or Bomma…
Yes, it’s been a couple of years now already. Moreover, I currently work with another Czech company – TON. We are planning to reveal a big collection in Milan soon. It’s all about furniture, tables and chairs etc. These guys have a great know how, which we use. They are extremely open to innovations and they are really capable of making amazing things with wood. They definitely deserve to be talked about more intensively. The same is valid for Bomma, this team can really make any single pattern that may cross your mind appear on glass. In fact, every Czech company I’ve been lucky to work with turned out to have a very interesting and unique technical process in place. Though it breaks my heart, when I see they let themselves to be used as subcontractors, instead of showing the world what they are really capable of.
Do you think that Czech designers are too shy or simply afraid of standing out “too much”?
I would probably not use the word “shy”. But I have a feeling, that many of them are somehow closed in their own world, they lack the courage to grab their bags and some sandwiches and go out there, to the world, and show their talents for real. I have some Czech trainees, in general I know a lot of Czech people, and I think this is a very individual thing and it’s all about your courage. It might be that the communist era somehow affected the generation of today’s thirty to fifty years old Czechs, but their children will certainly be different. It is actually a great privilege for me to experience these changes.
Do you touch fashion with your works?
Yes, I make a lot of jewelry. For example I developed a collection for Swarovski.
Is the ring on your finger of your own design?
Yes – it is my own brand. I also make wristlets. The brand is called Queens&Kings. There are only two machines that can produce these wristlets. Once I came across a company that back in those times produced components for machines only, and I offered them to start wristlets production. Now they are extremely proud of this product, all of them, including the wife of the man who runs the company.
Do you listen to music when you work?
Music and movies – this is my second life, which starts when kids go to bed. (laughing)
Does this mean that at night you finally get to the point when you have some time for yourself?
Yes, and I especially love painting at night, as it is a certain form of meditation. Actually one friend of mine, a psychologist, once told me it seems to be more effective and cheap than if I was attending his sessions. (laughing)
So you are an Owl, aren’t you?
No, I’m definitely not. I’m a pure Lark with a lifestyle of an Owl.
How many hours do you sleep actually?
Around five I guess.
Now I see why is that you manage to handle so many things. What would have been your best advice to yourself if you had had a chance to talk to the 20 years old version of you? Would you approach some things differently?
I actually never wanted to go back in time. You shouldn’t argue with your own destiny. Time is probably the only constant thing valid for everyone. At this point, I would actually like to go back to your question about my passions. The thing is that I love everything I do. Every single action I am into excites me in a certain way, nothing is easy or clear… Nothing comes free in this life and every accomplishment requires a lot of hard work. This is why I believe it matters that you truly love what you do.