People + Places

Q&A With Aqua Creations’s Creative Director, Albi Serfaty

“It’s not just design, it’s music and art too.”

This is the philosophy of Albi Serfaty, Creative Director for Aqua Creations. For more than 20 years, Serfaty has been leading the creative charge of this lighting and furniture studio, which combines art and function into seamless designs.

Their lighting line’s focus on artful silk has likened it to the craft and quality of haute couture. As the name implies, many of the functional art is inspired by “the notion that all life starts in water,” which was the brand’s jumping off point in 1994.

We spoke with Serfaty and gained some insights into the creative director’s life.

Albi Serfaty, Aqua Creations Creative Director

YLighting (YL): What defines your work and how does it separate you from the other brands out there?

Albi Serfaty (AS): My work is personal, and, in a way, I never ask the clients what they want or what they need. I do what I think is right, then we see if the public reacts well to it. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t. We’re doing things we like and are happy when we make them and become identified by them.

Also, I don’t know why, but it happens like this, but we’re doing everything here in-house. It’s, I don’t want to say old world, but in a way it is. In this manner we are more of a studio rather than a company.

Simon Says Yes, Simon Says No and Simon Says Maybe with Mahogany Wall/Ceiling Light from Aqua Creations

YL: Was there an a-ha moment that led you to pursue a career in design?

AS: All my life I’m doing photography, it’s my passion. At the time I was working as a photographer’s assistant at Bow Street in London, and I was making handmade paper lamps that I sold to the photographers there. Light and photography goes together, and I think this combination of photography, space, and light in my life is what brought me here.

There wasn’t really an “a-ha” moment, just one thing lead to the other.

YL: As the creative director, could you describe the culture and structure you create in order to foster team collaboration?

AS: I don’t have patience to wait until another person will catch up to my idea. I don’t explain myself well, I guess, so I’m looking for people that know how to do things and with these people I am working with full cooperation and confidence on the project.

For past year I’ve been working with Michael Zeron, who is a wizard with coding and making things do what we want. We developed a few strong lighting engines that will change the way people think about lighting and lamps. These are active lamps that we are launching for the first time in 2017 Milan design week. If you are a lighting lover and consumer, you must see these works, it is phenomenal.

Video Art Lamp (V.A.L.), gallery piece from Aqua Creations

YL: How has your style evolved over the years?

AS: At the time when Ayala and I were partners in Aqua Creations, Ayala lead the forms of the lamps and I did all the rest. Since she left I can see that in my designs there is freedom of the forms to become what they need to be. But since I’m a photographer with strong peaceful compositions, I see that reflected in my designs as well. Often I see the final product as a picture.

YL: How do you get unstuck creatively?

AS: Hmmm…Well, it doesn’t happen. I have so many ideas every day that my problem is to be responsible and not to bombard my people too much.

YL: What advice would you give to aspiring designers out there?

AS: That’s a hard one. I will tell them just to do. All the time. Just build things and try to get something that is original, shows what you can do and shows your personality. Don’t follow trends and don’t follow anything because it’s already been done. You have to invent something new to be a real designer. It’s not just design, it’s music and art too.

You will learn on the go; it’s easy. If people will like it, they will show interest in it and you.

Custom wall sconce from Aqua Creations

YL: Your work seems to be heavily inspired by nature. Do you consciously look for things in nature to inspire you? Or do you become inspired by accident when you’re on a hike for example?

Nature is so much more advanced than what we’re doing. The forms and functions, you know, so why should I be inspired by something somebody did. I am inspired by literature or music or talking to people, sure, but nature is definitely so perfect and so well designed. You know, I’m looking at trees and nobody can design something like that, not even the best coder. Nature is the source of everything.

YL: Where is your favorite place to feel inspired?

AS: Look, the name of the company is Aqua Creations. It’s water: sea, pools, showers. Everything to do with water. I guess it’s because I’m doing something without thinking about it, so I’m free to get the inspiration. When I have a problem I go to water.

YL: What is the one thing in your home that you couldn’t live without?

AS: The woman I’m living with. Her name is Danielle; she is home for me.

But if you insist on something, it’s my bed.

V.A.L Suspended, gallery piece from Aqua Creations

YL: Any exciting projects you’re working on that you could talk about?

The future of lighting. No less than that. I feel that everything I did in my life lead to this point. I’m doing these lamps, 25 years of making the most beautiful lamps, and to this we added the IOT (internet of things) and we are touching the future of lighting as we see it. The new lamps will not only be an object, they will be part of our lives.

YL: Thanks, Albi!

Rhyen Clevenger

Rhyen Clevenger

Rhyen Clevenger is a site merchandiser at YLiving. While he is new to the bath team, it does not hinder his enthusiasm for decorative plumbing. On the weekends he enjoys curling up with his wife and watching some good science fiction.

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