With an award-winning portfolio that showcases everything from private islands to porcelain jewellery, Dror Benshetrit’s designs speak of innovation, creativity and celebration.
Dror Benshetrit is a magician. The award-winning designer describes his work as looking at both “physical and metaphorical transformation”. With a wide-ranging portfolio that includes product design, interiors, architecture and creative direction, Dror aims to turn the mundane into something extraordinary.
After having studied at the Eindhoven Design Academy in Holland, Dror is now based in New York where he is the founder and principal of Studio Dror, a multi-disciplinary firm that creates beautiful things and spaces. Dror works with a range of international clients including Alessi, Bombay Sapphire, Levi’s, Puma, Swarovski and Cappellini.
One of his first major products was the Urban Cast-away range of porcelain jewellery made out of second-hand fur dipped in porcelain. This resulted in unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that received rave reviews describing them as “exquisite splashes of milk frozen in time”.
From jewellery, Dror moved on to footwear, changing the iconic side-stripe of the Puma shoe to double up as a fastener (2005). In 2007, he worked on a range of footwear for Skins Footwear where a two-part interchangeable ‘skin’ and ‘bone’ shoe showcased his inclination toward innovative design.
In 2010, Dror designed the ‘Davina Door’, an elegant collection of doors for the US market by Italian-manufacturer Lualdi. The door’s USP was “a simple diagonal fold which gives the door a two-toned depth that subtly reveals the inside door frame, giving the illusion that the door is slightly ajar.”
The following year, inspired by the Marvel movie ‘Thor’, Dror and luxury automaker Acura came up with the QuaDror desk which “interpreted the fictional work environment into a stylised and function fixture”. And yes, the desk has secret drawers and compartments too.
QuaDror, however, created more than just a movie-inspired desk. It was the genesis of a whole new system of creating innovative furniture. The designer called it a “structural support system”. Others, like Contributing Editor of Prefab Perfect magazine, Mark Kristal, called it “a diabolically brain-twisting system”. The website explains: “QuaDror is made from the assembly of four identical L-shaped pieces, either thin – resulting in a trestle structure, or thick – resulting in a solid panel. The collapsible system allows for rapid assembly and a transition from closed and flat to open and self-standing.”
QuaDror can be used in many architectural elements including dividers, in frames for structures of all kinds (think walls, bridges, highway barriers, chandeliers and sawhorses) and as a relief structure to improve “precarious living conditions”. From desk to room divider to a shelter, this is one impressive invention.
Along with QuaDror, Studio Dror has come up with other interesting designs like the opulent Floor Chandelier for Swarovski with over 6000 crystals in a grid pattern; the ‘Vase of Phases’ where three vases were smashed and then put back together; the ‘Lean’ sofa that makes traditional sofa-beds seem bulky and unwieldy.
Some other innovative products are the ‘Pick’ chair that unfolds flat to become wall art; the funky ‘Tron’ chair for Cappellini and the sumptuous folded felt ‘Peacock’ chair that is half space-age, half Victorian.
In 2009, Dror designed a limited-edition collection for Target that included a range of products including bed linen, stationery, alarm clocks, lamps and furniture. Many of these products were multi-functional, making them ideal for students and people tight on budget and space.
Dror’s award-winning 11-piece ‘Expandable Luggage’ collection for Tumi has been well received. Dror created the first ever expandable hard-case carryon: “the revolutionary two-wheeled case allows for four different size options through a two-stage expansion via a “living hinge” that makes it possible to adjust the bag’s depth and almost double its overall capacity.”
Studio Dror also has some impressive architectural and interior designs to its credit. Dror designed the Soho Synagogue and a Levi’s showroom in New York, a restaurant in Orange County and several homes and boutiques around the USA.
Dror’s magical touch is evident in his architectural projects too. The Porto Dubai residential project, the serene Nurai Island in Abu Dhabi and Havvada, a man-made island off the coast of Istanbul are only some examples of his fantastical design turned into reality. ‘WeCross’ is a more recent project, a creative lab that “brings innovators into a shared workspace”. With tenants ranging from Flos to photographer Nigel Barket, WeCross is already a success.
Little wonder then, that Fast Company magazine named Studio Dror as one of the top 10 most creative design studios in the year 2011. For Dror, creativity and innovation are a given, as are his keywords ‘metamorphosis’, evident in every single one of his beautiful designs.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy Studio Dror