The “light structures” that Israeli-born designer Ayala Serfaty creates don’t look like anything you plug into a wall. They look more like organisms that glow. Using thin, transparently tinted lamp filaments as “glass veins” that create both depth and surface, the tubes are then sprayed with a clear polymer in thin strands, connected like a spiderweb around the tubes, to generate “a skin-like crust,” or what Serfaty has called “a membrane of sorts” that feels like a soft cocoon. (In fact, the process was developed in the late 1940s by the U.S. military for cocooning ships.)
Serfaty, who also designs for the lighting and furniture atelier Aqua Creations, has a history of using organic forms ranging from tree foliage, corals, stalactites, and ice crystals. The light sculptures that form one half of her show “In Vein” at Cristina Grajales Gallery can be hung on the wall or from above, but many of them lie on the floor, clustered together in corners like glowing clumps of moss or emerging dramatically like billowing thunder clouds.
The other half of the exhibition consists of her wool chairs and sofas, which use wool cut once a year from a farm in the Midwest. Her sofas are made from one piece of molded, handmade felt that combines two processes: First, the fibers–merino wool, bamboo, silk organza, mulberry, and tussah silk–are layered into a mold, and then compressed, rubbed, and intertwined until they become felt. Like the lights, they feel almost alive.