Djivan Schapira

Good in Furniture Design.

About Djivan Schapira

Djivan Schapira is a French-born 25-year old artist, designer, craftsman, and founder of ABDB Designs. After completing a 10-year apprenticeship in woodworking with his father, a master woodworker, Schapira launched ABDB (Au Bout Du Bois) Designs as a platform to channel his creativity, and provide breathtaking functional furniture, art, and accent paneling to the world. Blurring the lines between art and furniture, Schapira's pieces incorporate his one of a kind, patent pending process of stylistically embedding cross-cuts of recycled wooden end grain in colored resin. Schapira's obsession with end grain came from working with his father at an early age, and while at Parsons, Schapira discovered his appreciation for patterns and symmetry. Additionally, while studying architecture at Parsons, Schapira came to the realization that understanding architecture was necessary for setting a new bar in furniture design. This epiphany led to the pursuit of his vision by leveraging his symmetrically positioned the end grain discs while also allowing the end grain's natural beauty and unique properties speak for themselves. Schapira believes that by creating a process and a product never before seen in the art or furniture world, he can inspire others to follow their dreams of creating no matter how radical they may seem. As an immigrant in the United States, Schapira was nearly forced out of the country due to his expiring student visa status. By founding ABDB Designs, as well as achieving patent pending status, receiving small investments, and recruiting a co-founder to help build the company, Schapira was able to secure the prestigious E-2 Business Visa to stay in the country during a time of uncertainty, as the United States believes in ABDB strongly enough to allow him to pursue his dreams. Schapira would note additional achievements as completing the architecture program at Parsons in New York City, as well as curating successful ABDB pop-up events in multiple cities across the country.

  • Winner of Furniture Design Award.
  • Specialized in Furniture Design.
  • Original Design.
  • Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Furniture
Andromeda Cocktail Table

Andromeda Cocktail Table

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Interview with Djivan Schapira

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
Art pretty runs in my bloodline. My grandfather on my mother's side was an incredible Armenian painter. My father is an unbelievable craftsman who raised me in the world of woodworking. Since the age of 10 I spent my time hanging out in his shops and slowly learning the trade. I was raised in a household which always appreciated art, design and architecture. While apprenticing under my father I decided to study architecture in college. I pretty much knew I didn't want to be an architect however I thought it would be an incredible foundation to learn and understand the use of space, materials and design. While I was studying at Parsons School of Design and working for my father, I decided that once completing school I would open up my own business revolving around my designs. And a few years later here we are.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
ABDB stands for "Au Bout Du Bois" in French, or "at the end of the grain/wood" in English, and I conceived the idea for ABDB Designs in September of 2015. We officially founded, along with Co-Founder Andrew James, in October of 2016 and officially launched via Kickstarter in November of 2017. I was always aware that in this day and age I would not be able to start this company alone so I went looking for someone to tag team this venture with me. Andrew was the perfect fit and primarily handles out business development and outreach. We together are Ying & Yang. ABDB Designs has become to be a multidisciplinary atelier designing & handcrafting high-end furniture and luxury interior accent paneling. We are founded and produce our furniture by way of our patent pending process of embedding recycled cross-cuts of end grain in resin, which we also color ourselves. The process can be applied to nearly any flat surface, and we are very versatile in that regard. We have a debut line of end tables, cocktail tables, and wall hangings, in addition to the ability to heavily customize, making us a collaboration-forward company when working with designers, architects, and private clients on their pieces or larger installations. Our design studio, ABDB Studios, is located in the Palisade Cliffs of New Jersey, overlooking the Hudson River and a breathtaking view of the entire Western Manhattan Skyline. With around 2,400 sq. ft. of space, our studio is our workspace, woodshop, showroom, office, and headquarters. Contact us via our website if you would like to schedule a visit!
What is "design" for you?
This is not the easiest question to answer but if I had to put it simply I would say design is the culmination of imagination, conceptualizing and bringing something to fruition.
What kinds of works do you like designing most?
Given my multidisciplinary education Im not sure I have a specific preference however right now I am enjoying designing innovative furniture and installations.
What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
To be frank I am not sure I can answer this question... its like asking me my favorite food.
What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
Currently I am enjoying working with wood, resin and soft metals. As far as technology, the advancements in robotics in the last decade have proven to be absolutely incredible and are allowing artists to create things that were either deemed impossible or would take a ridiculous amount of time. I look forward to at some point dive into that realm.
When do you feel the most creative?
I don't know if I can specifically say. Often after I take a break and go on a trip. Given the fact that that is rather rare creativity seems to find me when I randomly see something that sparks me. It's like lightning...I never know when it can hit.
Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
Given my current style, the graphic designs that I portray on my pieces is the part that requires the most "designing."
What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
Emotions are always a rollercoaster ride...especially when designing. I can be stuck on a ride that takes me to new heights and then later realize its not possible. What is important is taking in these emotions and harnessing them in to our own advantage.
What makes a design successful?
To me its simple. It looking the way I want and being structurally sound.
When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
Honestly, I try not to judge. There are things that I personally enjoy more than others, but I always love seeing and appreciating anyone creating something and putting it out to the world. It's a scary and exhilarating feeling and I support anyone who takes the leap.
From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
I believe a designer's responsibility for society and environment are to always push the boundaries forward while being conscious of what you're leaving behind. Pay attention to your process, as well as your footprint, and always have fun with it!
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
Naturally we are a species that is forever looking to evolve. This evolution is dictated by our environment. Design is a constant juxtaposing between the past and present and seeing how what we've learned can elevate us to the next level. I cannot say for sure what the future of design is but I can surely say will be there for the journey.
When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
Our most recent exhibition was a NYC pop-up created and curated entirely by ourselves titled, ABDB Designs Presents: A New York Showcase. The pop-up was located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and consisted of three days which included a Vernissage, a larger party, and a three-day retail store. All music, set design, guest lists, and visual aesthetics were directed by ABDB Designs. With a collective attendance in the hundreds, as well as making a profit when all said and done, we considered our first NYC pop-up to be a success - there's always more to learn, however! Expect our next pop-up to be in early summer in NYC, followed by LA in late summer, and Art Basel (Miami) to close out 2019. After that....Europe!
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
My inspiration naturally comes from the world around me. From watching other artists excel at their own craft, to traveling and learning about different cultures is predominately where I find my greatest sources of inspiration.
How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
This is a question I've been asking myself for a long time. I kind of like the phrase "contemporarily innovative." I'm not sure it makes the most sense but regardless I don't like to focus too much on this question. My style is my style, if in a few years things develop and people want to categories to can feel free. For now I'm just doing me.
Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
I currently live in the New York City area. I was born in Paris but spent a lot of my early life in rural central countryside of France. When I was 6 my family immigrated to the United States. While I am still just solely a French citizen and speak fluent French with my family, I consider myself incredibly Americanized. I believe my cultural heritage definitely defines me as a person but I wouldn't say its specifically translated into my designs.
How do you work with companies?
We collaborate with architectural and design firms to either supply our collection furniture, or begin with a blank canvas and build something totally custom, or a combination of both! Recent examples include four custom (color/dimension) outdoor cocktail tables for the Hoxton Hotel in LA, six custom (color/dimensions/end grain pattern) bistro tables for Blind Barber Chicago, and two collection tables (one cocktail, one end table) for the world famous Second City in Chicago, IL
What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
Be open to new ideas! Some designers have specific products that might feel a bit "risky" or "scary" to pursue or move forward with, but there is always greatness on the other side of fear. Take the leap! You never know who can offer what, and turn a simple project into a groundbreaking marvel. I think companies can select a good designer based on a) whether or not they like their designs, and b) how they interact with the designer/design team. A good rapport always creates the best relationships, and in this industry a good relationship goes a long way.
Can you talk a little about your design process?
Unfortunately like I mentioned before the process is proprietary so until our patent falls though I will not disclose any part of the processs and leave it to the audience's imagination
What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
My mother's authentic blue Lava Lamp set on one of their 3 legged spaceship bases. 3 of my father's original furniture pieces he designed in the 80's.And lastly an original cover print poster of the comic book "Les Aventures de Tintin: On a Marché Sur La Lune"
Can you describe a day in your life?
Obviously days can vary but more often than not I am in my shop working on various tasks. Id say I spend 80% of my day in the shop and I love it.
Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
Considering that I am 25 I still consider myself a young designer and am still constantly absorbing wisdom from artists and craftsmen I met. However one thing I can say is that is a young designer has an itch...itch it! The world is our oyster.
From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
Im not sure I can specifically pin point specific pros and cons. I believe designing is a constant dance between wanting to create what our imagination can come up with and finding the tangible ways to achieve what we want. However I will never take for granted the ability to work for oneself and create things that we want to do. That is without question an incredible "pro."
What is your "golden rule" in design?
Considering the fact that I still consider myself an up and coming designer I don't think I have established my "golden rule." What I can say is that taking time to reflect on anything that one is working on is imperative to success.
What skills are most important for a designer?
Necessary skills are definitely determined by what specific type of design one is hoping accomplish. However one thing that spreads all design fields is the necessity to keep an open mind when designing. Ultimately designing is about confidence and believing in oneself.
Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
I will not dive into any specifics however one of my most important design tools is a notebook. Sketches and notes are imperative to accomplishing any design work.
Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
Rather than "time management," I like to focus on "attention management." What I mean by this is, I try not to squeeze too many things in a day that feel unnatural, and/or organize those things because I feel like I "have" to do them at a specific time. Rather, I create a list of what I'd like to accomplish in a day, and direct my attention to whatever I'm feeling best with. For example, I know that I enjoy working with my hands in the beginning of the day, and that I like to create late at night, so on this type of day, I'll start with something simple like sanding, and end late night on my computer coming up with design concepts and prototypes. Every day is different though, so it's really based on how I feel and where I feel I should place my attention.
How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
I can't really answer this question! Sometimes it takes weeks, sometimes months, sometimes years. I've started projects, hit a creative block, and picked them up years later to complete. I've also started projects and just felt the flow of energy the entire time and created something new in weeks.
What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
I don't want to make anything up so considering that were just getting started here I'm not sure there really is a most frequently asked question. I guess often times people with be curious as to how I got to where I am and my answer while it may sound cliché is always to believe in oneself and keep pushing.
What was your most important job experience?
I'd say my most important job experiences are two-fold: a) being able to complete a 10-year apprenticeship with my father, who is a master craftsman and creator of high-end custom furniture, and b) to have been able to complete jobs with my father in the homes of high-profile clients. The apprenticeship taught me how to build furniture, while the client aspect taught me how to build relationships. Successful jobs can only be accomplished if one is precise and thats a lesson my dad taught me very on.
Who are some of your clients?
Aside from a number of private clients, some of our more commercial clients include Hoxton Hotels, The Second City, Blind Barber, and Soho House & Co.
What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
Again this is like asking me my favorite type of food...I have a hard time with these types of question and rather not open pandoras box.
What are your future plans? What is next for you?
My goal right now is to continue to develop ABDB and bring the company to new heights. We are young and just getting started which has me very excited to see where the future takes us.
Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
My team consists of myself and my business partner Andrew. While I may bounce ideas off him (as well as other friends and counterparts), I primarily develop my designs and manufacture them myself.
Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
To find out about works-in-process people will just have to follow our journey. I tend to not disclose anything about projects that aren't completely finished.
How can people contact you?
Fill out the contact form on our website and we will respond within hours!
Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
Nope, id say you guys definitely do a good job asking the right questions.

Extended Interview with Djivan Schapira

Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
I practiced a 10 year+ apprenticeship with my father. I then studied 5 years of Architecture and Design as Parsons School of Design in New York City
What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
It really just a way to release. Theres no specific reason I became a designer...its just what I felt I was put on this earth to do.
What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
Right now I mainly designer end tables and cocktails in addition to larger wall installations. I hope to in the future expand my portfolio and create larger pieces and seating.
What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
Considering the fact that I am only 25 I do not think I qualify to answer this question just yet haha. I guess for now they can tune in and see how it goes.
What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
I believe the difference between a good and great designer is distinguished by how far one is willing to push boundaries.
What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
I simply evaluate my designs by whether or not they satisfy my aesthetic desire and if they are structurally sound.
What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
Good design is imperative for the future of our society. We should not accept boring or conventional design in order to simply make more of a profit. On larger note, good design in the long run will be our answer to surviving as a species. If we don't pay attention to our foot print and use good design and be mindful of the environment, we'll have no where to practice "design" on!
What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?
I currently have the luxury of designing what I feel comfortable with. In the future I simply want to design for more people!
What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?
A dream project is undoubtedly to complete a boutique hotel inside and out. A true, full ABDB experience.
What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
If I told you it wouldn't be a secret now would it... Honestly I don't believe there is a secret ingredient. Every chef is different and has their own spices they like to use. That is was separates them from everyone else.
Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
Andy Warhol, Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen, M.C. Esher, Gaudi, Salvator Dali
What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?
I don't know if there is time to open up that can of worms... but what I will say is that what these legends have been able to accomplish is develop a signature that they have been able to carry across the design spectrums. I one day hope to achieve this ability and spread my design capabilities into other areas of design.
What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
Given that I have only released a debut collection I think you will have to ask me this question again in a couple years!
How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?
As I am only 25 and still consider myself to be a young designer all I can say is that it is necessary to step out of ones comfort zone and not be shy to try new things. I took me over a year to come close to understand what I was even doing and I still to this day am still learning. The main thing is to be confident and never give up!
If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
I would have loved to become a musician. Who knows it may still happen...
How do you define design, what is design for you?
This is not the easiest question to answer but if I had to put it simply I would say design is the culmination of imagination, conceptualizing and bringing something to fruition.
Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
My father is undoubtedly the person I owe the most for teaching me all that he taught me. From learning how to look at things with a critical but understanding eye, to teaching me the craft of woodworking he is the man who in part has allowed me to become the man I am today. In addition there is no question that I would be where I am now without my business partner Andrew James. His belief in me alone has allowed ABDB to reach heights I did not think we obtain so quickly. I look forward to see where this journey takes us. And lastly my family and friends have always been incredibly supportive of me in this venture.
What helped you to become a great designer?
Like I've mentioned, I believe I'm just getting started so ask me this in a few years.
What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?
I would not called myself a design master whatsoever. Im am just getting started.
How do you think designers should present their work?
Any designer should present their work with the utmost respect. Someone who doesn't respect their art, doesn't respect themselves.
What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?
I am currently working on pieces for my second collection. This will include but not be limited to new end and cocktail tables as well as some larger cabinets and various wall installations. Stay tuned!
What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?
My ultimate goal is produce work that people feel a connection with. Allow their own personality to speak through the pieces they decide to own. Lastly a childhood dream I've always had was one day have a piece in MoMa in New York City!
What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?
Like I've mentioned, I believe I'm just getting started so ask me this in a few years.
How does design help create a better society?
Good design in the long run will be our answer to surviving as a species. If we don't pay attention to our foot print and use good design and be mindful of the environment, we'll have no where to practice "design" on!
What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?
I mentioned I usually don't disclose anything about pieces that aren't finished but I will say that I am working on what will be a magnificent screen. That's all I say.
Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?
The bigger the better! I look forward to being able to create a large scale installation. That day has yet to come...I hope being featured through your prestigious award will help!
What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?
I would like to see more young designers take the stage. The industry is predominately old school and I think its time for young designers to take the reins!
Where do you think the design field is headed next?
Naturally we are a species that is forever looking to evolve. This evolution is dictated by our environment. Design is a constant juxtaposing between the past and present and seeing how what we've learned can elevate us to the next level. I cannot say for sure what the future of design is but I can surely say will be there for the journey.
How long does it take you to finalize a design project?
It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months! True greatness shouldn't have a deadline.
When you have a new design project, where do you start?
Conceptualizing is definitely a very early and fun stage of the design process.
What is your life motto as a designer?
My motto in life in general is the glass is half full. Thats the only motto I carry.
Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
I don't think there is a true right or wrong answer here. I'll ask you this...what came first? The chicken or the egg?
What is the role of technology when you design?
Like in every evolving industry technology plays a huge role here. While woodworking is a centuries old profession, resin is a different type of animal. If it weren't for the huge advancements that have been made in the world of resin this project would have proven much more difficult.
What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?
From a computer perspective, we use Rhino, InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. From equipment perspective, we use a bandsaw, a jigsaw, a belt sander, and other smaller tools/machines.
What do you wish people to ask about your design?
To be honestly I rather ask them what they think about my designs.
When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?
I usually enjoy trying to deconstruct the piece and try to figure out how they were able to realize their creation. I find this to be a great way to inspire myself and come up with new techniques I can apply to my own designs.
Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?
I 1000% believe in collaboration. Honestly as long as the vibe is there, things will flow. No need to set strict guidelines when looking for collaboration.
Which books you read had the most effect on your design?
Yes is More by B.I.G but I wouldn't say its effected my design...more so my way of thinking and working.
How did you develop your skills as a master designer?
Like I've mentioned, I believe I'm just getting started so ask me this in a few years.
Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?
Oh man thats a great question...Unfortunately I really would have to ponder this one for a while. Ill have to get back to you...
How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
I don't think Im ready to answer this one...were just getting started.
What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?
Oh man....sorry to disappoint but theres not enough time in the world for me to answer all go these!
Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?
I don't think Im ready to answer this one...were just getting started.
What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
I generally think of myself as a rather generally motivated person. Walking into the shop fuels my desire to get things done!!
When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?
When I was little I wanted to be an astronaut. Then I watched Apollo 13 and I naturally shifted my focus.
What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?
Whos to say....maybe an alien species will dig up one of my pieces and be like "damn these humans made some pretty cool shit"
Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?
If you're ever in the New York City area hit us up, well grab a drink, eat some cheese and talk design!

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