written by:
December 14, 2010

Israeli–born, New York–based designer Dror Benshetrit’s work runs the gamut from product and furniture design to architecture and interiors. No matter the genre, his work is consistently clever, blurring the lines between present and future. During this year’s Design Miami, he debuted a limited-edition armchair series commissioned by Cappellini for Disney Signature, inspired by the upcoming TRON: Legacy movie, which is set to hit theaters later this month.  


Courtesy of 
Anthony Djuren – Getty Image
1 / 6
Courtesy of 
Anthony Djuren – Getty Image
2 / 6
Dror Benshetrit Giulio Cappellini portrait TRON Armchair

Much like the new film, Dror’s TRON series blends elements of both the physical and digital worlds. The prototypes shown in Miami are the result of an aesthetic and production approach that marries handiwork and computers, informed by the raw data that makes up TRON’s jagged landscape. Each was CNC printed on foams of block, then put together and covered with fiberglass—one in a charcoal black, the others hand-painted by Dror using TRON colors. In early 2011, they’ll be mass-produced with 100% recycled roto-molded plastic. The existing limited editions run $14,5000 each, and are available exclusively through Cappellini. 

We spoke with Dror during the fair to get the skinny on his latest collaboration, his very full roster of upcoming projects, and his favorite current favorite soundtrack, a la TRON.

The original TRON movie came out in 1982. How old were you the first time you saw the movie?
Well, I was five in 1982, and I don't think my parents took me to that movie. (laughs) I saw it only as a classic movie when I was twenty-something. It’s one of those movies that [one] must see, especially as a designer, especially as someone that really works a lot with digital, and the whole idea of mixing digital animation with hand-animation. But I actually did not really remember it until the whole announcement of the new movie, when I had to go back and refresh my memory of exactly what it was like. 

And obviously as you see it thirty years later, you realize it's not what you were excited about when you saw it years ago. It's actually funny how still fresh it is in a way, even though you're laughing at all of the effects ‘cause you know that they're not even computerized; they're just some neon lights trying to be like computer screens.
How did you get involved with this project with Cappellini and Disney?
Giulio [Cappellini] mentioned the whole collaboration with Disney over a year ago, before we started talking specifically about TRON, which I thought was a brilliant connection. The first collaboration between Disney and Cappellini just [considered] the Disney motifs, but the idea was really to work with them on movies, and to work with them on sets, and things that will be in movies. So I think that this is the first collaboration where it's actually linked to a specific movie; hopefully in the future we will also work on actual sets and production with them for certain things.

But the idea that our culture's so influenced by those movies, and yet, you see, most of the time, the interiors and the sets [in movies] that are just not pushing the boundaries as much as companies like Cappellini do. So, Giulio mentioned TRON, and at that time I was working on a project that at first I called Collision. I was really fascinated by understanding chaos, mathematical order, and the difference between collision in the digital world versus collision in the physical world, and the translation of those things into one another. 

I'll give you an example. If you think about special effects, let's say, taking two cars and crashing them into one another, to replicate that and to create this in a digital world is very complex. Because obviously all of the behavior that happens to the bodies needs to be mimicked by a computer that will calculate exactly how this metal and that type of thickness and that kind of angle will react to that kind of power. Of course, in the physical world [this] is very simple. You drive two objects toward one another and they crash.

Then, in the other way, you take two 3-D objects and collide them into one another. Then producing that is very complex in a physical [way], in matter. And that's exactly what I wanted to show: that translation into a physical object that you sit on.

So, the first process was to create two different forms—one that is very sharp and precise, and the other that is more organic and shows volume in a less precise way. And then to scan them, bring them to the digital world, collide them in the computer, and then print them. So we've done that. We took the physical shapes and scanned them to the computer, then collided digitally, and CNC printed them on blocks of foam. So basically what you're seeing is the result of a computer file. And then, of course, working on that by hand, perfecting that by hand.

If you look at almost every project that we're doing, there's always a portion of it that we're doing on the computer, and always a portion of it that we're doing by hand. For the most part, there is always a translation. And in this case, I wanted that to be the concept. I wanted it to be really evident, within the seat itself, that it's all about taking it in and out [of] physical to digital, which happens to be the story of the movie.

dror TRON Armchair 2

What materials were used for the final, physical chair?
For the hand-painted ones, it's funny, because it's like a double process of being inspired by the movie. The first creation is the [black] chair, and then [we made] four hand-painted ones inspired by the movie. When you look at the movie, and you look at all those sharp, neon lights, the first reaction was, ok, let's bring that into the form. But I thought that if I'm doing true hand-painted chairs, I want to translate that into just brush and liquid paint. I of course first worked with the exact pantone colors that they're using in the movie, but then really worked on it with sanding and brush to get just an expression, just a feel of the overall sensation that those visuals are doing for me. I think that the easiest way to say it is I listened to Daft Punk and had fun (laughs).
dror Cappellini Possess Tron4 byDror

What’s next on the horizon?
There are a lot of other projects we’re working on for April. We have a lot of different collaborations with Italian manufacturers; we’re going to debut sets of tables and a couple of other home products. And we're working on a few very different projects that we've never done before, which are extremely exciting. One is in the area of luggage, and one is in the area of kids.
dror Cappellini Possess Tron4back byDror

Interesting.
Those two projects have been consuming quite a lot of my time in the past few months. You know, the airport is really becoming my second home, and for the past several years it’s been frustrating how the airlines are constantly changing [rules] for us—like you can carry only one piece, [then] you can split your pieces, you can do up to that amount—and it just really made me think that something's got to change in the way we work with our luggage. So this collection that we're working on is, of course, staying with the kind of transformation that I've been doing in all of my work, but specifically to improve travel needs. So that's a very exciting project.

And then, in the area for kids, I've always felt that a lot of babies' products just feel like devices. They're not so pleasant, they clutter the environment, for safety reasons and all kinds of reasons, they've just evolved into things that look like machines. So I don't understand [that]. At first I thought, why couldn't those things be miniature versions and beautiful proportions and beautiful aesthetic, which can still be safe and can still be in balance? So we're working on a few products for babies right now.

And there are actually a few new architectural projects that we're working on—actually an architectural system that I'm going to debut sometime in the next six months, and that's really going to be the biggest thing. It's a project that I've been developing for the past four and a half years now, and have actually quite a lot of patents on, and it's an entire system that's very structurally sound. It has tremendous potential and capabilities in terms of structural strength, but also acoustic applications. 

dror Cappellini Possess Tron1 byDror

Sounds like there’s a lot on your plate.
Yeah (laughs), we have a lot going on. There are [also] a couple interior projects in Europe, in Turkey, in Paris.
dror Cappellini Possess Tron1back byDror

Last question—what did you think of the new movie? I know it doesn't officially come out until December 17th, but I imagine, given the project, that you've seen it.
You know, it's really been torture, I must say, because first Disney sent us some drawings, then they sent us some short clips, then they sent us the first five minutes…So, I've not seen the entire movie yet! I've just seen bits and pieces from it. And I've listened to—every couple weeks they're debuting something else, so they released 20-25 minutes from the soundtrack, which is unbelievable. So, I'm like everybody else, waiting to see the whole thing. From what I've seen, it's unbelievable. They were trying actually to get the motorcycle down to Miami for Basel, and all I wanted was a four-minute ride on it. The motorcycle works, it's a one-of-a-kind produced by Ducati.

So, there's a lot of really, really exciting elements—even just the animation, which is unbelievable. So yeah, I'm curious. I really got bits and pieces, but i can't yet put them all together.  (laughs)
Who's on the soundtrack?
It was done by Daft Punk, and it's great. I enjoyed it a lot. 

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

img 8652 1
The city of San Francisco has been eagerly awaiting the reopening of SFMOMA for years—and as the May 14th opening approaches closer everyday, the anticipation continues to build for art enthusiasts both near and far. This morning, we were given the opportunity to explore the newly expanded space before the crowds roll in. After a series of speeches, remarks, and tours, we left the grounds feeling thoroughly inspired and excited to share what we discovered.
April 28, 2016
Renovation of 1967 Hamburg apartment with Vipp kitchen.
In our April issue, we showcased an apartment in Hamburg, Germany, with a striking, matte-black kitchen from Vipp. The 77-year-old company became famous for its iconic pedal trash can before venturing into kitchens and other tools for the home. This isn't the first time that the Danish company's products have graced our pages, and here we've gathered additional examples from our archive that show how the brand's minimalist black kitchens are always a win in modern interiors.
April 28, 2016
Zafra residence living room.
A man and his wife make an emotional return to an apartment building he loved as a kid.
April 28, 2016
the garden inside concrete dining pavilion indoor outdoor custom cabinets thermador dishwasher refrigerator
A skylit conservatory doubles as a verdant dining parlor in Sonoma County, California.
April 28, 2016
Details of the Calico collection.
Calico Wallpaper founders Nick and Rachel Cope showed us through their home in our March Issue, now step inside their studio.
April 28, 2016
william krisel pow 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
April 27, 2016
Dwell on Design and designjunction at ArtBeam
It's all part of Dwell on Design + designjunction's three-day event, featuring a program of talks chock-full of leading figures in design, architecture, urbanism, and beyond—coming up May 13-15 at ArtBeam in New York.
April 27, 2016
seattles mariners floating house prefab facade exterior fiber cement panels
A prefabricated floating home drops anchor in the Pacific Northwest.
April 27, 2016
royan treatment living room stone fireplace vintage new furnishings
French designer Florence Deau effortlessly mixes the old with the new.
April 27, 2016
modern netherlands 13 noordeinde schoolhouse parquet herringbone floors stove
Take a lesson from this school-turned-home.
April 27, 2016
The sidewalks of Copacabana in Rio De Janero, Brazil, designed by Roberto Burle Marx
The Jewish Museum in New York City takes it outside with a celebration of the Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.
April 26, 2016
Waterfront home in Belvedere, California
A 1960s home infested with powderpost beetles had to be sacrificed before this this Zen-inspired house could happen.
April 26, 2016
dialogue house
At the base of Echo Mountain in Phoenix, a geometric home by Wendell Burnette opens up to the surrounding desert landscape.
April 26, 2016
street smarts kitchen full view
A creative couple transforms an old Toronto storefront in Dundas West into a home and studio.
April 26, 2016
hald strand
This architect thinks of everything for his summer escape, pizza oven included.
April 26, 2016
gans turin residence living room
Thanks to a contemporary interior that she’s been updating for a decade, modern architect Abigail Turin has learned to love her traditional 1925 San Francisco home.
April 25, 2016
131
Johannesburg-based design studio Counterspace was founded in 2014 by young architecture graduates Sumayya Vally, Sarah de Villiers, and Amina Kaskar. Their projects are collaborative, research-led investigations into possible futures and ideas of otherness in Johannesburg.
April 25, 2016
through living room
A second-story addition and a new indoor-outdoor focus revive a nondescript house in L.A.
April 25, 2016
Modern living room with Flexform sofa and Jens Fager candelabra
An Antwerp home blurs the boundaries between art and design.
April 25, 2016
hillside haven  1
This backyard is its own modern retreat in the Berkeley Hills.
April 25, 2016
Two studios flanks a central volume at this home in Mexico
Art and life meet in the middle at a family retreat in Central Mexico.
April 24, 2016
natural instinct swedish family home kitchen table unfold pendants muuto lilla aland chairs stolab
With Alvar Aalto in mind, a renowned Swedish architect crafts a serene home on a long-held family plot.
April 24, 2016
clearing the table coffee tables boxinbox philippe starck glas italia storage
A half-century later, furniture designers are catching up to painter Yves Klein’s visionary Table Bleue.
April 23, 2016
A deck looks out onto the beach in Australia
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
April 23, 2016
against the grain sustainable hudson new york home black walnut flooring furniture
An architect-turned-falconer considers animals and nature when designing his own home.
April 23, 2016
Aerial view of Copenhagen
@littlemycph finds symmetry in buildings and streets.
April 22, 2016
Josué Azor retuned to his family’s plot to build a new home, designed to resist future quakes and decorated with custom artwork and furniture.
In the wake of a catastrophic earthquake, a young Haitian photographer builds anew.
April 22, 2016
backyard with outdoor shower concrete pavers and wood fence
A hillside Virginia home located on a notch between two ridges is fun for the whole family.
April 22, 2016
Twin houses in Canada
Twin cabins rise together on charming Chaleur Bay in New Brunswick.
April 22, 2016
toy story industrial kitchen los angeles renovation toy lofts brass shelves steel wall hayneedle pot rack verona range
Our best reader reactions this week.
April 22, 2016