Arielle Assouline-Lichten says that she was always born to be in design; and with her background, we wholeheartedly agree! The founder of Slash Objects was born to Joel Assouline, a French-Moroccan who is related to the “Assouline” we all know, and Vibeke Lichten, a Danish-born architect who was raised in Israel. Assouline-Lichten’s parent met in Switzerland, further adding to her international background, and decided to move to Philadelphia on a whim.
Her father set forth distributing gourmet delicacies to Philadelphia’s hotels and restaurants and her mother designed furniture. Fast forward and Assouline-Lichten enrolled at New York University to study arts in critical theory. While she was completing her master’s of architecture degree at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, the designer teamed up with a classmate, Caroline Armory James. It wasn’t long before the two women worked together to revive Women in Design, a student-run organization.
The pair became consumed with the fact that the 1991 Pritzker Prize was appointed solely to Robert Venturi, completely ignoring Denise Scott Brown, Venturi’s co-principal. They started a petition requesting recognition for the female partner; Assouline-Lichten and Armory James gathered 20,000 signature. Nevertheless, the organization did not change their stand.
In a roundabout way, this lead to an internship at Bjarke Ingel’s firm in Denmark; Assouline-Lichten was tasked with graphic design duties; however it was (courtesy of 1st Dibs), “the design work in the physical world that piqued her interest. “I was intrigued. I wanted to build things and create spaces. I wanted to play with the literal building blocks [of architecture and design.]” This invaluable experience, along with jobs at Snohetta and Kengo Kuma…, plus styling under Toyo Ito, led to the creation of Slash Objects in 2014.
Slash Objects was founded because of Assouline-Lichten’s passion for the environment and her desire to lessen products’ impacts on the world. Her website claims, “We believe in a future of beautiful products made using sustainable materials which take the environment’s wellbeing into consideration. We believe that design can change the world through the choices we make.”
A project one year after founding Slash Objectsts cemented what she wanted to do. Working alongside a team, Slash Projects was asked to design the interiors of a high-end residential building in Soho. The building itself was immersed with marble, steel, and brass. While designing the gym, Assouline-Lichten noticed many different samples of recycled rubber flooring laying around. This was the “Ahhh Moment;” as she confirms, “I live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and there were a lot of marble yards with discarded stone just thrown into piles. I thought it would be interesting to elevate recycled rubber by juxtaposing it with a super-luxury material like marble that had also been discarded.”
In 2021, Assouline-Lichten made it all the way to the finale of Ellen DeGenere’s series, “Ellen’s Next Great Designer.” The show asks contestants to design an entire furniture collection, from scratch, over four days. In this case, the contestants needed to furnish the living room of one of the show’s judges. The process taught the designer that it was possible to push her boundaries. Assouline-Lichten presented the show with (courtesy of Surface Magazine), “”The Rift,” a collection whose forms evoke California’s tectonic plates while featuring her signature blend of natural materials—onyx and brass—across a floor lamp, coffee table, console table, and daybed.”
Once the show ended, the designer went to work on giving new meaning to discarded materials. Fast forward and this is how the Adri Chair debuted. The sculptural “statement piece” is “defined by a recycled rubber composite seat that is perched like a scroll between two sturdy marble slabs.” The chair is a favorite of Assouline-Lichten’s!
Assouline-Lichten is committed to experimenting with the tension between “volume and levity;” her hope is that this ties us to a sort of consciousness about the material world in which we reside. About her pieces’ construction she says, “it brings us to some sort of awareness about the physical nature of materials, which helps us understand the importance of conserving and reusing them because they are precious.”