CCS: Crafts I Shape the Future With an Arts and Crafts Degree
As a student, Jeremy Levitt took a multifaceted approach to his education; he combined the most important aspects of crafts and industrial design to graduate with an interdisciplinary major. Today, he’s applying the knowledge from both of these programs as co-founder and principal of Parts and Labor Design NYC, a full service design firm specializing in hospitality, commercial and retail spaces.
“I love having the opportunity to design so many environments and products at such a fast pace. Then to see it all fabricated and functioning at project completion is a very big rush,” said Levitt. “And when I can, I’m able to slow it down a bit on specialty products for residential spaces or for the furniture and lighting line that we’re creating. Furthermore, the creative freedom is endless.
“Our clients are typically pretty amazing as well. In many cases, we have the chance to work with some of the world’s most talented chefs, restaurant operators, hoteliers, business owners and the like. Details that drive their creative needs, as well as their logistical needs, are always enlightening and provide new challenges to overcome on literally every project we work on. So nothing gets monotonous. It’s being an artist for a living, and when people put their trust in your talents to help them realize their dreams, it’s a great feeling. As a result, our work is there for the public to experience.”
Levitt co-founded Parts and Labor in 2009 with business partner Andrew Cohen. The two collaborated on projects through AVRO|KO Design where Levitt worked as a furniture and lighting director and Cohen served as senior architect.
“My experience in New York and at AVRO|KO is invaluable,” said Levitt. “As a director, the level of autonomy that I was given aided in my preparation to head off on my own. My business partner, Andrew Cohen, was a senior architect there as well, and we paired up on several successful projects. In the end, we asked ourselves why do this for other people when we could be doing it for ourselves? So, we started Parts and Labor Design.
“Andrew and I make it a point to lead every project design as many of our clients are comfortable knowing that we are taking full responsibility for all that we create. And we’re fortunate to have incredibly talented employees who add beautiful new perspectives to the design process. The biggest difference is running the business side of our company, which we both love. It’s a nice balance—it’s also a lot of work!”
Cohen and Levitt’s work has been recognized in publications such as Wallpaper, Surface and Hospitality Design, as well as nominated for outstanding design by both Hospitality Design Magazine and the James Beard Foundation. They recently received the 2012 Wave of the Future award by Hospitality Design Magazine, Esquire Magazine's Best New Restaurant of 2013 - The Elm, Design Bureau’s Top 100 Designers 2014, Travel + Leisure's Best Restaurant Design of 2013 - Honorable Mention for Atera and Architectural Digests 10 Most Beautifully Designed Restaurants for Atera.
“So far, Atera has been one of my favorite projects to work on,” said Levitt. “It was one of our first projects on our own as Parts and Labor. We rocked out some insane products that were a refreshing change in material and execution from some of what we had been doing prior. We worked our concept around the chef, his obscure ingredients and his deeply calculated and beautifully presented dishes.
“We had to create an environment where people would feel comfortable dining for three hours while eating the most unique meal of their lives—an area where people could be social or solitary and an area that showcased both the chef and his process as well as our work. It was a major test in creating symbiotic relationships where the romance was in the details, large and small.”
While Levitt has gained invaluable experience working in one of the largest design hot spots in the world, he credits CCS for pushing his design potential and Detroit for giving his work its unique character.
“CCS gave me the tools to get my hands in as many facets of design that I could experience.”
“Max Davis, among other teachers, pushed me in ways that I loved – and in some ways that I hated! Ultimately, he opened my eyes to the fact that there are endless possibilities for myself and my peers to take our talents to the next level. CCS is an amazing community within a very tough and dramatic city. What I’ve found is that our clients here in New York really go for that hard core, industrial feeling that artists and designers from Detroit infuse into their work.”
In addition to ensuring the success of his own business, Levitt believes in helping other designers and craftspeople along the way.
“In the end, we are very, very focused not only on spreading our designs but bringing as many other designers and craftspeople into our world,” Levitt explained. “For instance, we use Axiom Glass for almost every project. We utilize local artisans to help fabricate our designs and we try to give them as much recognition as possible. We work really hard to include these people in our projects and to help grow their businesses as well by recommending them to any and all of our contacts. We’ve developed a really great and reliable family and we grow a bit more each year. It’s about creating a network where everyone benefits.”
To check out more of Levitt’s work, visit www.PLDNYC.com.