An Interview with Israeli Architect Dudi Ohayon, Founder of studioDO
Photography by Tal Nisim
studioDO is a Tel Aviv based architecture and design practice focusing on high-end residential and commercial projects, founded in 2013 by architect Dudi Ohayon. Their aim is to create contemporary yet timeless architecture, one that combines the new with the existing and based on minimalist and clean aesthetics.
What sparked your interest in architecture and interior design?
I studied photography in high school as a major and it influenced the way I observe, think and appreciate architecture. From an early age, concepts like light & shadow, perspective and proportions shaped the way I design. Today, I can tell that my passion for architecture was shaped through the camera lens.
How did you begin your career as an architect/designer?
I studied at Azrieli School of Architecture at Tel Aviv University, which happens to be my hometown and a must visit destination for architecture lovers. When I graduated, I took a year off working for a mid-century furniture dealer. I did everything: from finding vintage pieces at the flea market, sanding old wooden items and traveling to show rooms around the world. Afterwards, I started working as an architect for a high-end architecture firm, focusing on residential architecture. I worked there for a few years before starting my own practice.
How would you best describe your design principles and philosophy?
Every new project starts with listening and observation: listening to the client’s needs, observing the site and its surroundings, searching for its specific context.
I try not to limit my work to a specific style, but the foundation of my work is always based on a minimalistic, clean design approach with great attention to details.
What do you find the most challenging and most rewarding part of the job?
I find the architect-client relationship to be as challenging as it is rewarding. It takes time to build trust between the two, but I find that my most successful projects were the ones in which I had the most fruitful dialogue with my clients.
What does a typical day as an architect look like for you?
No day is like the other. Some days I go from one meeting to another, some days are dedicated for site visits and others for planning and design at the studio. I love the diversity the job brings with it.
Throughout the years, I managed to build a network of people I work with: clients, contractors, suppliers and dealers I am also happy to call my friends, which makes my working routine a lot more fun.
What is a common client misconception?
Whenever I have a hard time getting my client on board with an idea, I try to come up with a third alternative: not exactly what I had in mind, nor what the client requested. I try to think of it as a design challenge: finding another way to express my thoughts and ideas, but at the same time to stick to the architectural concept of the project.
What are some things you’ve learned throughout the years as an architect?
In architecture, learning is a never ending process. Every project brings new challenges, and I try to keep an open mind and embrace new ideas and solutions.
What advice would you give to young architects and designers?
Architecture is such a wide field, and I would advise young architects and designers to constantly pursue what evokes this inner passion for them.
The future of studioDO
We are currently working on a few exciting new projects. One of them is a renovation of a 200 sqm apartment in a historical landmark building in the heart of Tel Aviv. Originally designed in the BauHaus style, the entire building is now undergoing a massive restoration and renovation, and we are doing the interiors of one of the apartments.
Favourite architects/designers and studios?
Arne Jabobsen, for meticulously designing at every scale, from furniture and interior design, to iconic buildings. His works are 60 years old and feel more relevant than ever.
Marcio Kogan of MK27 for his unique “tropical modernism” – a mix between the principles of modernist architecture with local materials and techniques of his home country Brazil.
Best places or works you’ve seen or visited?
If I had to choose one place, it would be Teshima Art Museum by Japanese architect Ryue Nishizawa and artist Rei Naito. It is an open air gallery space made of a single concrete shell, seamlessly emerging from the ground. Visiting the museum is a sort of pilgrimage: you take a boat from the nearby island, you continue your journey up the mountain by bicycle and you walk in the forest in order to get there, but it’s totally worth the effort.
Another favorite place is Yaakov Sourasky Garden in Tel Aviv, designed by Architect Yaakov Rechter and Landscape Architect Avraham Karavan.
Favourite ways to get creative juices flowing?
I believe that inspiration is found everywhere, and it changes from one project to another. It could be a film, an art exhibition, a hike in the outdoors, an iconic building and above all, a constant dialogue with clients, partners and colleagues.
I recently watched the Korean film Parasite and I was blown away by how architecture is the main storyteller in the film.