Born 1973, Israel
Practises in Germany and Italy
Studied Applied Art at Avni Art Academy in Tel Aviv and Industrial Design at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, Holland
As a child growing up on a kibbutz in Israel, Nitzan Cohen’s favorite birthday gift was a LEGO set—not just any LEGO, but the technical set. “It’s how I spent all my time in the winter,” he remembers. That was his first indication that design might be the career for him.
After graduating from the design academy in Eindhoven in 2002, Cohen worked as a designer and project leader on a wide range of projects for international companies and institutions.
However, it was when Cohen established his own design practice in 2007 that the real depth of his talent was revealed. He runs a multi-disciplinary design studio that engages in projects ranging from industrial products, furniture and spaces to art-direction and design consultancy. He collaborates with a wide range of partners – from large international corporations to small artisanal workshops, cultural institutes, and Museums. He is also the conceptual founder of an innovative Italian wooden furniture brand.
Cohen explains his approach to design and the curiosity that drives him, “I try to question, to look for questions that are interesting enough to answer. It is as part of looking at design as a methodical process, it is a way of working and a way to look at the world around us…”.
Cohen and his studio combine a research-oriented attitude with conceptual design, and this manages to translate his creations into a new visual language of objects and spaces.
His true love lies with furniture, especially chairs, because “they relate most to the body. There is a constant relationship to people, and there really are no boundaries. You can do things with a chair that you could never do with any other object. In terms of scale, character, and features, a chair is often the most ‘outspoken’ piece in the room”.
When Cohen designs furniture, it is an intimate process. He questions the entire concept, asking what the character should be. “You have to find its DNA”, he explains.
The story of the He Said/She Said chairs embodies his approach. Cohen imagined a classic café’ scenario, “Girl meets boy, boy meets girl, sitting on two chairs at a small round table, he says something, she says something. I named it with that in mind”. The result was two versions of the same chair- one masculine and one feminine- the DNA of the design had been found.
Cohen has engaged in teaching from an early stage in his career. He taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart, held a professorship in Saarbrücken and appeared as a guest lecturer at the Geneva University of Art and Design. In 2015 he took over the Chair in Product Design in the Faculty of Design and Arts at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano and was subsequently appointed as Dean of the Faculty.
He is inspired by his role in design education and the wider impact this can have. “Both design and art play an important role in how we design and manage our society to create a fairer, more sustainable future. In this process, the ability to make use of design and art to enable innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration is crucial”, he explains.
Cohen is driven by his curiosity to question the status quo. He critiques our modern consumer-based society and deplores the way that designers are often seen as feeding this system by inventing and re-inventing, shaping and re-shaping, making new things for the sake of being new. He believes in his responsibility to question the system.
Cohen lives by the idea that sometimes fascinating solutions come from identifying a problem and for a short moment letting go, leaving aside all mundane limitations of budget or feasibility. He believes in pausing for a moment and simply wondering “what if”.
Cohen is passionate about his work and feels that no matter what the question, he and his studio will find the answer. “I would never say it is the best or only answer, but it is our answer, and that makes me really proud”.
- SOLO Stool plain
- SHE SAID Table
- SOLO Stool colour
- Nan-15 Bookshelf
- SHE SAID cushion
- SOLO Table
- SHE SAID low wide
- SHE SAID stool
- Nan-15 Packaging
- SHE SAID chair
- HE SAID chair