interview with Lior Rokah-Kor a finalist in the make me! 2019 contest

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The theme of Lodz Design Festival 2019 was „good life”. What does it mean for you? Do you believe a good life can be designed?
Lior: The good life is usually measured by money and wealth. However, to me, life is measured by quality, and here is the place where me, as a designer, can make an impact. The way I see it, we design products to improve the quality of life of all living beings in this world.

What inspired you to create the make me! project?
Lior: I have created the project in 2010, as part of a course called "IDEA" during my academic studies in Shenkar college of engineering and design, Israel. We were asked to create a project related to a specific political issue which is important to us and we want to express an opinion on it. We didn't necessarily have to develop a functional product(s), but rather to create an object(s) that convey the subject we chose to engage with. As a vegan for many years and an animal rights activist, I chose this animal rights subject for my project. I have created ceramic tableware which presents, through pastoral paintings, the animal food industries. The project aims to stimulate moral discussion about the legitimacy of animal exploitation and their basic rights.

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Could you please tell about a process of creating a ready-made object for the exhibition?
Lior: I created the project as part of my academic studies, and it has been well maintained over the years. Workflow process: At first I have created various ceramic tableware in plaster molds, then I have painted them (this phase was relatively long since it took me a while to reach the result I have desired and was pleased with), and finally, I have burned the dishes in a ceramic oven. 
When painting the vessels, it was important for me to choose at least one scenario from each three main animal food industries: meat, dairy, and eggs. Despite the difficulty of watching this kind of photograph, I looked at hundreds of them and selected the ones that have particularly touched me. I have noticed that it is much easier for us to be empathetic for a photo of a single animal than hundreds at a time. We search for that expression in their eyes and realize the suffering this animal is experiencing. After printing the chosen photos, I began to paint each one of them with watercolors on a paper, before moving on to painting on the ceramic vessels. When finished painting my chosen scenarios with watercolors, I showed them to people around me and studied their reactions. After that, I began painting on the ceramic vessels the scenarios that most touched people. I matched each scenario to its vessel type: a cereal bowl for the dairy industry; a large flat plate for the meat industry; etc. The last stage of this process was to choose five vessels that I was most pleased with and to burn them in the ceramic oven. Since my work process had happened in my college ceramic room, many students came across it. To my delight, quite a few people approached me and told me that this project stirred thoughts and influenced them.

How is the work on the project like at the moment?
Lior: I am not working on this project today, as it is a critical design and non-commercial project. 

Are you working on something else right now?
Lior: In recent years, I have been focusing on value based products which contribute to the world and not harmful to the environment. Today, I am a senior designer at a startup company, which develops innovative digital products that help people with ADHD. In addition, I also devote my time to developing and designing my own ideas.

Was the participation in the make me! final and the exhibition helpful? How do you perceive participation in the contest?
Lior: Participating in the competition was a very fascinating experience to me. I have enjoyed getting to know so many talented designers from around the world - each designer with his own interests, his own worldview, his own style, etc. It was wonderful to see my project displayed alongside so many impressive projects, and to see how the exhibition visitors have reacted to the project. It was a special experience which I will never forget.

What are your plans for the next, let’s say, five years?
Lior: For the next five years, my plans are to keep contributing my skills and to give value as a designer in the company I work for. In addition, I plan to take part in developing products that the world really needs, that are making a change for the better and that are environmentally friendly.

What should young designers pay attention to the most? What advice could you give to people who want to enter the competition?
Lior: Don't act out of ego, stay humble, and constantly ask yourself - does the product I bring to the world have a real sustainable justification for its own existence?

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Lastly, we have a kind of a questionnaire prepared for you:
If you could be the designer of any project in the history of mankind, what would it be?
Lior: I would like to design the very first wheel ;)

What do you think will be the next breakthrough technological invention that you will live long enough to see? What are you most looking forward to?
Lior: I am looking forward to the day that cultivated meat will be developed as a marketable product, so it will be available to everyone. When that happens, and people will eat more cultivated meat than "regular" meat, there will be less hunger in the world, less air pollution and less animal suffering.

Who is the most important designer these days?
Lior: I don’t think I have a ‘one most important’ designer, but I really appreciate Sam Hecht.

Can you name the most interesting designers for you?
Lior: I like Gerchic and Stefan diez.

What should be on the best-designed pizza?
Lior: A very tasty cashew cheese, artichoke, Kalamata olives and sweet potato.

What book worth recommending did you read lately?
Lior: “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari.

Your three favorite TV series are:
Lior: Big little lies, Girls and The good wife.

Favorite movie scene:
Lior: The spaghetti scene on "Lady and the Tramp".

You have a one-way ticket. Where would you go?
Lior: Nowhere, I would stay where I am :)

The Rolling Stones or The Beatles?
Lior: The Beatles.

Rihanna or Beyonce?
Lior: Beyonce.

Star Wars or Star Trek?
Lior: Star Trek.

Superman or Batman?
Lior: Superman.

Cats or dogs?
Lior: I have both… but if I must choose… cats.

Thanks for an interesting conversation!
Lior: Thank you!