Inside Elad Yifrach’s L’Objet
“The world doesn’t need more product,” is not a statement one would expect from the lips of a lifestyle/decor designer, but Elad Yifrach is a bit of an anomaly. Following years in the Beverly Hills interior world (i.e. the land of more is more), the Israeli designer founded his brand L’Objet after recognizing a lack of thoughtful, artful home décor. As an avid traveler, intellectual and cultural connoisseur, Elad channels his worldly passions through design, instilling a brand ethos of “old world technique, modern sensibility.” To accomplish this, he ventures, “where the craft is best,” working exclusively with artisans around the world to bring his imaginative dreams to reality. L’Objet epitomizes quality over quantity, breathing life and soul into each collection.
The collections are handmade with love from masters of the craft – be it Portugal, India, Italy or France – treating these artisanal traditions as preciously as the handcrafted product. He speaks with a warm humility that makes you feel instantly at home, mirroring the transformative experience woven into his collections. Drawing inspiration from Spanish fashion, Japanese fish, and the Aegean Sea alike, he’s bringing the world to you, as an inspiration to live a more meaningful, well-traveled life. Elad is not only bringing beauty into the world through his designs, but daring you to dream. Read and learn from the Renaissance man, as we talk inspiration, emerging markets and preserving culture through design.
COOLS: Before founding L’Objet, you were an interior designer in Beverly Hills. What initially attracted you to the design world?
Elad Yiffrach: I’ve always been drawn to aesthetics. I remember growing up in Israel and going to an old magazine store in Tel Aviv that sold used magazines from cruise ships. I bought all the Architectural Digests, and design magazines. I would collect them in my room, mark the pages etc. I went to interior design school for architecture in Israel. Then I worked in music, so I was always in the art world. I moved to LA for business school, and started working in interior design. The design world in America is so highly developed, I got exposed to it on a whole other level. I fell in love with it, much deeper.
COOLS: And it was from your experience in interior design that you found a void in the decorative market? And you wanted to fill that gap on your own?
EY: I found a big gap in the decorative world, and for some reason, the first thing I went to was tableware. But I’ve always had a vision beyond tableware, more like a lifestyle. To me, it was just a big rainbow of everything that is decorative and functional. But yeah, it came from a place of not being able to find what I envisioned in my mind. After a while, my mentor told me to do it myself. So I did.
COOLS: How did you aim to set your brand apart? What were you creating with L’Objet?
EY: I don’t try to set myself [apart]; I just try to be me. I always tell my team that the world doesn’t need more product. We’re overloaded with product. But the world needs better product. The world needs something that comes in with a little more soul. That has a little more of a story, a little more meaning to it. The pieces have functionality, but also a purpose and energy in them. And that comes from being true to what moves me, and bringing it to the world.
It can be risky, because I don’t design for the people. I don’t design to what the market predicts. I don’t follow trends. I try to just do my own thing. You just have to do you, right? And then the rest is how people recognize it. So I try to stay deeply connected with my mission.
COOLS: And what is that mission?
EY: To work with artists that have old world techniques and take a lot of pride in what they do. That’s their life. Most of them are pretty old, which I love. They’ve seen everything, but they don’t know how to translate their work so it’s more relevant today. I feel that is my mission in working with them. What I bring to the table is a little more fresh, a little more new, a little more daring. At the same time, getting inspired by their abilities and techniques. It’s this new and old, always blending together.
“I always tell my team that the world doesn’t need more product. We’re overloaded with product. But the world needs better product. The world needs something that comes in with a little more soul. That has a little more of a story, a little more meaning to it.”
COOLS: How do you preserve artisanal tradition with advancing technology?
EY: We try to show is how you can get high precision with handmade [product]. Everything we make is made by hand, from start to finish — all the refinement, the fine details. To me, the best technology we have is what we do with our hands. I want to preserve that. These people don’t know how to operate machines, and no machine can do what they do. That’s what really moves me. To sit in a studio and see people take my drawing, and start sculpting it in plaster and working on ideas, and finding out what’s going to be challenging…what’s possible, and what’s impossible.
A collection is usually two years of conception. We don’t start right away, but we draw and get inspiration. We build mood boards. We let it marinate in that world. It’s a very long process, but within it a lot of ideas are born. The ones that stick, that always excite you when you see them again? Those are the ones that you know are going to be moving.
COOLS: You source inspiration from all over the globe. How do you translate that worldliness into design?
EY: I just bring what moves me and what captures me. When you look at our designs, it’s an interpretation of the place. It has a lot of nuances, but it doesn’t feel like a museum shop. It’s very easy to actually do a museum shop. I try to stay away from the obvious, and give more of the feel. What does it really feel like to be in that place? Beyond just going to St. Marco’s Place [in Venice] and the Grand Canal? When you go to the small canals, the alleys, and you sit and eat with the artisans and not the tourists? Or when you go to Tulum, what happens if you don’t just sit on the beach? What happens if you really get lost in the jungle? That’s where the real textures are, at least for me.
COOLS: Your vision is very experiential. How do you want L’Objet to resonate at first sight?
EY: To me, a client that is inspired by one piece that fits into their world is just as beautiful and important as someone who wants our entire everything. Everybody is moved by something with a different intensity. You can have one piece – or a lot of pieces – that truly moves you, but there’s always that one that makes a huge difference. Right? If you look in your closet, you have a lot of pieces. But there’s always that one piece that makes you consistently happy when you wear it. To me, a success is a piece in someone’s house that gives them that feeling. Or they gift someone with a piece of mine. That’s a big thing for me. I hope I inspire people to live life that is more meaningful, and well traveled. There is a lot of integrity in the material, and the product. Everything in your home holds energy, and we want that energy to be beautiful. We try to add beauty to our lives and to the world. That’s really my intention, and also to showcase incredible craft.
“It’s not enough to just create a beautiful product. You need to find a way to inspire the people that are the audience you are trying to reach. Make them dream.”
COOLS: Your brand imagery is as thoughtfully designed as the pieces themselves. What aesthetic culture are you creating around L’Objet?
EY: Thank you, first. I try to bring my imagination to life in the images. I feel like it’s not enough to just create a beautiful product. You need to find a way to inspire the people that are the audience you are trying to reach. Make them dream. If I can inspire somebody from a picture or interacting with a piece to travel somewhere…I’ve accomplished a lot. I’ve made you not just want to like and own a piece, which is great – but it’s moved you enough to go to that place, or read about it, or talk about it. I’ve given you an added value of intellect, which is a beautiful thing to give. It’s really to inspire, and to show people the way that I see things. I go places, and choose to look at the beautiful little corners. And to me, that’s where the magic is. So I want to bring it to life and make it dreamy, but realistic in a way.
COOLS: Are there any emerging global markets you’re focusing on?
EY: A little bit. We try to touch everybody, everywhere. This year for the first time, we’re going to an exhibit in Dubai. There’s a really cool show called “Downtown Design,” and they really try to showcase beautiful brands. They’re showing the regional brands that are beyond the obvious blockbuster brands. So we’re gonna do something really fun there. I focus on Asia because I admire how fast they learn. It’s always inspiring when you show and somebody is eager to learn more about what you do. Just seeing their growth and interest in design, the way they are getting more sophisticated and philosophical about it is really beautiful.
Everybody was just looking at them as a cash cow, but they are really engaging on a whole other level. For example, it was very difficult to present them with dinnerware, because they didn’t know what to do with it. It’s not like they don’t eat on a daily basis, but it was never a priority. So, showing the art of entertaining, and the art of the table was special. It brings a whole different meaning to the food. Seeing them having this blank face when you talk to them, to all of a sudden coming and asking questions, like “How do you set a table?” It’s really, really beautiful.