For the Amsterdam-based couple behind BCXSY, life is all about finding balance. Boaz Cohen and Sayaka Yamamoto, have mastered this art - they balance their design work with personal life, as well as their individual talents to create BCXSY's unique style. Similarly to the couple themselves, their design for The Contrast Table intertwines varying shapes, colors and materials with pure balance.
Photo by Rory O'Toole
As both partners in design and in life, how do you maintain a work-life balance?
We love the work that we do, so it's often been a challenge to separate the two. At first, we often worked through the weekends, simply because it was a nice way to spend our time. After some time, we came to appreciate a more clear separation of work and personal time. We found that creating a routine actually contributes to our creativity. It allows us time to process and reflect on our work.
"We came to appreciate a clear separation of work and personal time. We found that creating a routine actually contributes to our creativity."
When you're outside of the studio, what are some things you like to do together?
We have a shared passion for discovery - especially when it comes to food. When we travel, we try to explore the local specialties and cook with new ingredients. We're fascinated by experiencing totally new palettes, so we cook based on colors, intuition and the finds at the local market. Traveling is often a part of our work, so when we visit a client or manufacturer, we always extend the visit to give ourselves time to explore.
We're not surprised to hear that traveling inspires you, as you designed the Contrast Table while spending time with a boat-building community in Ireland. How did your experience there influence this collection?
The original design was conceived during our residency in Cork City back in 2012, where we studied the ancient carpentry techniques used in boat-building. There, "form follows function" was the principle behind every design. The inspiration for Contrast Tables came from improvised clamps used in boat-building - made from leftover wood but integral in holding everything together. When we first saw the improvised clamps, we found those simple artifacts truly ingenious. We then worked to extend the function of the clamps towards an object for the home.
Photo courtesy of BCXSY
What was your process and inspiration for choosing the materials for this collection?
The original prototypes were made of marine-grade plywood with hand lacquered edges. While we liked their appearance, they felt unfinished. With laminates, we were fascinated by the thin line between what is real and what is unreal. By covering different sides of a board in different "materials," we got the chance to create material combinations that couldn't be done otherwise - when combining "real" materials, their properties and technical limitations must be considered. With laminates, the only thing we needed to focus on was the appearance - so we could make our selections much more freely and intuitively. This was very exciting for us as designers.
"With laminates, we were fascinated by the thin line between what is real and what is unreal."
How do you use this flexible design in your own home?
At home, we like having pieces that can adapt to the need of any given time, by being easily rearranged or functioning differently. The Contrast Tables are perfect examples of multi-functional design, and for years we've been using the prototypes flexibly - from a side table to an extra seat when hosting guests. In times when more space is needed, we disassemble the pieces and store them flat-packed, so they're out of the way.
Photo by Hannah Whitaker
What advice do you have for couples that work together?
From what we've experienced, working together as a couple only works when not much effort is required to collaborate. It's not something you can force - even if both sides really want it. We've seen couples (or friends) who tried to collaborate, and the effort took a major toll on the relationship. In that case, it's better to just focus on the personal relationship.
For us, our work relationship is an extension of our personal one - continuous mutual attention and consideration is therefore essential to keep things working smoothly.