Local Talk - Interview with Local artist and Classic Man Barber Mike Lasovski

You are a barber by trade, and an amazing one - when did you know that you had a desire to capture and share your photography?

I've always had a passion for art, and I've been drawing ever since I can remember. I love fashion and music, and used to do styling for short films and sing in a progressive metal band.   Photography is just another creative outlet for me. I've been perusing it  for the last 3 years.    

In this age of cameras built into cellphones, do you take pictures on your phone or do you use an actual camera? If so, what type of camera?

I take pictures with my phone and make it more artistic by shooting different angles and using  effects. I use what I have for now, but would love to buy a camera in the near future to get better quality and details. 

Do you plan for time to go out and capture images or do you take photos here and there as you go throughout your day?

It is more about "capturing the moment" for me. If I see something interesting in the aspect of colors and angles or anything that I think would look good as a photograph, I'll stop what I'm doing and take a picture.

How does you full time job as a barber translate into your approach for taking photos? I know from hanging photos with you at the shop that your eye is quite good!

I am a perfectionist at my job as a barber and my clients know that! I don't like to leave out anything for the chance, and risk a haircut coming out not looking good. I see everything, every piece of hair. I treat my artwork the same way.

You are originally from Israel, how does your childhood in a different country inspire your approach to photography?

I grew up in the city of Jerusalem, a place that is very rich in history and culture. Jerusalem has spiritual energy, and that by itself inspires any creative individual. Also, growing up, I was surrounded by artistic friends (who later became musicians, fashion designers, photographers etc). Being surrounded by such people pushed me to develop the creative side in me as well. Photography has a universal language with which I can express myself.

What's next for building your photography craft? Are you seeking any type of arts + photography education?

I would love to take some additional photography classes and develop the skill further. I'd like to do more exhibits in the near future and reach a wider audience.

Tell us a bit about the photos you have shared with us @ Local.

The photographs reflect how I see the American culture. It is about my life as a barber. The pictures I have chosen have a dark vibe, capturing the spirit of Halloween 

Screenshot_2018-10-17-23-22-31-01 2.jpeg

follow Mike on Instagram @mikey_thebaba.barber

Local Talk: Q+A with Josh Miller from Montclair State University

I'm inspired at the entrepreneurship and innovation coming out of Montclair State University. Tell me a bit about about MixLab and the genesis of the department.

The MIX Lab is an innovation center at MSU where students utilize technological tools to think and create in an innovative manner. We all work on projects both personal and with outside clients to help push the boundaries of innovation and entrepreneurship. Altarik and I work extensively in the lab to create innovate on everything from packs to other ceramics. The classes taught in the lab allow students the opportunity to think in the world from a different perspective. To us, Innovation is not just about using the newest technology, but to continue moving forward in progress and problem solving. 


What are the types of projects that draws your team's interest?

All our work in the lab has led us to form our own startup Urban Nomadic (urbanomadic.com). We are drawn to projects that have a strong ecologically and design focus. Plus collaboration is really important to us. Being able to work with other designers and innovators is critical to us. 


What are some of the team dynamics that create a healthy and effective approach to innovation?

I’d be lying if I said we (Altarik and myself) didn’t argue a lot. Yet, I find that it’s the respect through arguing that keeps us working together so well. We aren’t just colleagues and co-workers. We are friends and brothers. having that kind of dynamic among us allows us to be able to work through differences and come to great innovations. The other key part for us working others — we are always looking for people who want to design something transformative.


In our current environment, what brands or people do you consider to be driving true innovation?

I don’t search for innovation among well-known large corporations. I’m surrounded by innovation both here in the lab and in the local design ecosystem of Montclair. Through the lab we have met people who have some brilliant ideas and have seen some products that are surprisingly non-mainstream. MADLab, the architects behind the design of the Local coffee shop are a great example — they taught us a lot. When it comes to people, I’d like to point towards the two people that have taught me how to be an innovative individual: Iain Kerr and Jason Frasca — the co-directors of the lab


What are some of the short term as well as long term goals for the department?

The MIX Lab as well as Altarik and I strive to continue the development of innovations. In the short term, there are a few projects we are working on, some of which could become viable businesses in the future. As Urban Nomadic we are working on a long-term project to eliminate fashion waste through the use of revolutionary biodegradable materials. Altarik and I would love to continue to develop our innovative custom ceramics with restaurants or individuals who are in search of some really unique designs. In regards to the MIX Lab’s long term goals, we are continuing to expand our capabilities as well as who we contact and how to continue to foster innovation. 


What were your major product design inspirations for developing and ultimately building the bowls?

When creating this design, I was given the guideline of coffee culture while incorporating local celebration. I believed that if I dug deep into the roots of coffee culture I would find ideas that were no longer “the norm”. This is where the bowl concept came into play. Originally, this bowl was designed as a coffee bowl, but the design had a few uncomfortable niches to it. I discovered along the way the idea of a known face on a cup or bowl and decided to try to create angles that were not usual in bowls. From this, I found a designer who had a work of art like the bowl and felt that I was on a good path. The rest of the design process comes from working closely with Rob and Adele to create a product that they would be proud to use and present. As for the local part, we found a river bank in Glen Ridge (with great help from an MSU professor) with an abundance of rich clay and believed that it was only fitting to use a little part of the world right here in creating these bowls.


What were some of the challenges that your encountered along the way?

Earlier, I spoke about learning new things as being a key goal. When I asked Altarik to join this project, I found very quickly that time was against us. When learning new skills, and trying to meet a deadline all at once becomes stressful, one tends to look at their partner for stability. That was something we did with each other constantly as we did our best to meet (and sometimes fail at meeting) deadlines and tasks. All in all, I would say this was a challenging project by nature, but well worth the time and effort.


What were the most important takeaways for this project?

The most important takeaways are that it is possible for local designers to do things that no one else can do. It was humbling to see Local so ready to put the bowls out for display and use. We learnt that we could do some much more than we realized at first: we could dig up local clays, we could design custom products, we could work with great clients like Local and that the design and architecture community is generous and supportive. Basically, we can away excited to continue this work of collaborating with others in the local community to develop new products and innovative concepts.


Tell us something about design that very few or no one knows.

This design is an accidental design. I was still learning to use the software in the beginning and was going for a different structure to represent known faces and used a feature wrong that presented me this shape. Sometimes accidents bring out the best products. Design is all about processes and truly anyone can be innovative. I think that we need to move away from the notion of a “creative genius” but instead look at things from a set out processes to get towards a place. Really, it is all about doing things and if you fail, the worst outcome is that you will learn from it. 


What is it about being in Montclair that supports and drives the program forward?

It has a lot to do with the aspect of “Local”. In Montclair, there is a large culture of innovation and generosity from MSU to MadLab, to Local — everyone was more than willing to help us far beyond what we could ever have imagined. There is a community with a lot to teach and share. I find that Altarik and I connected well with Rob and Adele and that helped us to want to bring them a great product. For other students, here at MSU, it’s the passion of not only solving problems but creating new problems for worlds worth making and innovating that continues to progress the program.


What does local mean to you?

Local to us means the belief in what the community can provide to us and what we can give back in return. It is a symbol of support and love from people that we may know or soon meet that continue to help push in a positive direction. Local is the embodiment of positive goals with belief in each other.  It is really about making and emerging with the things you have around you. We also believe that local is about sustainability and collaboration. Through our newest project, Urban Nomadic, we are not only looking to work for people who are trying to make a difference, but we are trying to make a difference ourselves through the use of renewable resources. Local is not just about the people, but also about the environment we share with everything in the world and our aim is to protect as much of that as possible.



Local Talk: Q+A with our architecture and design firm - Madlab

What was the inspiration in founding Madlab?

After working in other design firms for over 10 years, we felt ready to launch our own vision of a firm. MADLAB stands for Morozov Alcala Design Laboratory, and in a simple sense, that’s also our business plan. Two professionals willing to go beyond conventional practices in order to carry out innovative design. That was in 2003, and we’ve never looked back.

We are definitely at our most creative and satisfied when we’re not just designing, but when we’re making and testing, and learning from that process. It was a no-brainer for us, really, and we probably have our immigrant families to thank for that! We inherited a solid work ethic with a sense of adventure and a tolerance for the unknown.  It’s helped us find a balance between having a creative vision, and having the know-how and guts to execute it. Once we set out on our own, we soon realized there was a steep learning curve when it came to getting our design work executed by contractors. We became more and more frustrated, and moved to building prototypes, just to demonstrate that it could be done. Without a proper workshop, we set up a space to tinker wherever we could. In our basements, in our living rooms - wherever we could to carry things out.

Today, Madlab is a hybrid design practice in a 2,000 sq ft space that is part office and part workshop. We love when clients come visit to see where all the magic comes together. They immediately get what we’re all about once they walk through our doors.

What is about a coffee shop that piqued your interest?

The sharper a client’s vision, the better more guiding power it offers us. This is key to a great outcome. With this project, we had the added benefit of knowing the town and seeing the chance to roll out something entirely fresh and unique to Montclair. A coffee shop is an open-ended program. It serves a social purpose in our communities. We wanted to hone this into an environment that isn’t just a backdrop, but adds to the conversation in very subtle ways. We deliberately created little touches throughout the space that catch your attention, but doesn’t overpower it. It’s how we wanted to see “Local” stand out from the crowd of other coffee shops around the world.

The other thing that came through early on was that our clients Robert and Adele are great storytellers. They elevated that cultural aspect of taking a moment for a coffee, alone or with friends, as an important thing to do. Their hospitality background was heartwarming and important. Trusting us was the driving force - and ultimately the opportunity - to deliver something special.

What is the biggest surprise looking back at when we started this project?

Everything! We came into this project with our talent and dedication and an open-ended approach. Once we arrived at a schematic design, the rest was pure energy, blind faith and constant testing of ideas. It made the project fun! It all came together organically as we worked at a feverish pace.  There were times when we could have taken shortcuts, but we stuck it out and it was worth it. 

What is that something special that you will take with you from this experience that you will take with you on your next journey?

This was by far one of our fastest turnaround projects, and it could not have happened without an all-hands-on-deck design-build approach. It brought out the best in our staff. There’s not a single design element that wasn't touched in some way by our entire crew. There’s a real pride knowing your efforts are contributing to something bigger. ‘Local’ proved that this approach is not just good for our clients, it’s good for us, too. You want to evolve as a business and this project was a tipping point. We should be doing more of these projects. People want it, there is space for it.

We also take away how vital it is to establish trust with our clients at the beginning, especially when there’s just no time for lengthy design reviews and revisions. It’s really easy for an unconventional process like this to unravel - having your clients’ trust is the only way through that. How can we best cradle their needs so it doesn’t become a crisis, but it becomes innovation? We’re excited to explore that more in the future.

About Madlab

Madlab is an award-winning and internationally published architecture firm noted for its research and innovative design services.

More here: www.madlabllc.com


Source: www.madlabllc.com