After leaving her computer science degree to get in touch with her creativity and explore graphic design, Orit Dichter became drawn to the world of crafting, designing and sewing. Considering this path was not the obvious path for Orit, she coined her brand plan:d. Influenced by the vibrant art scene in Israel, Orit’s designs truly embody the “always summer”, confident attitude of the beautiful country.
Here, Orit discusses her experience taking the unconventional path, her choice to only use man-made materials, her curious inspiration, and what’s next for plan:d.
What inspired you to be a designer and how did you get started?
I’ve always dabbled with different kinds of arts and crafts. I used to spend all my free time as a teenager creating stuff, exploring the internet, and then making more stuff 🙂
I started my professional path as a computer science student. I studied for about 2 years, and really like it, but it cost me all of my free time. After a while, it became clear to me that I must make use of that creative side, not only as a hobby. And so, after 2 years, I left school and became a graphic designer. After a few years in this field, I opened my own studio, building and designing websites. Slowly, I was drawn more and more towards hand crafting – designing and sewing different items for my friends and myself. Eventually, it became obvious that I had enough sitting in front of a computer. I needed to feel the material and create fashionable items that embody my design concept. That was a great decision.
For a few years, I still worked half time and spent my spare time trying to figure out my new path-what exactly I want to design, how to find my visual language, and the right people to work with in order to make my dreams come to life. What most inspired me is the fact that I simply cannot live without using my creative sense. In some ways, I think I have to design in order to be happy.
The name of the studio came from looking at all the different paths I have taken, understanding they led me here, to what I call “plan d.” The name symbolizes the variety of influences poured into the items I make, each contributing their share, so together, they construct a new plan – plan:d.
Where were you born, where have you lived most of your life, and how has this influenced your brand?
I was born in Israel and still live here. I think the warm weather with the ‘out of the box’, confident people around me influenced me to design bold pieces – because I knew there would be interest, even in less traditional pieces. There’s a very lively design and art scene in Israel, and I knew I didn’t have to constrict my creativity in any way to accommodate the audience.
In Israel, its almost always summer, so bright colors and prints are always welcome. Later, I realized that a bright item can go really well, even with the most monochromatic, muted winter wardrobe. Now my clients are all over the world, but I still keep it fairly bright and unconventional.
What is the first thing you do in the morning? What websites do you visit?
Hit the snooze button! After its gone for at least an hour, I finally wake up, pet my pets (and my partner 🙂 ), then head to the studio that I share with my partner (he’s a creative as well). I drink some coffee and check my social media to see what has been going on during the night.
I like scouting Pinterest and often check out new stuff on my favorite designer sites and blogs (some of my favorites are www.openingceremony.us, https://www.notjustalabel.com/ and http://design-milk.com/).
What materials do you use and from where do you source them?
I use mainly vegan leather, canvas, cotton, and different treated fabrics (some of them I print, myself). I chose to use only man-made materials, no leather or any products derived from animals – out of respect and love for all living creatures. I source most of them locally and print some abroad. I love sourcing ‘non-fashion’ materials, as well, and use them with the more high-end stuff; that’s why I’m always on the hunt for new, uncommon materials.
What gets your creative juices flowing? Are you an early-bird or a night owl? What songs are you listening to, what munchies are you snacking on, what are you wearing?
Most of my inspiration comes from common textures, colors, and patterns I see throughout the day. Perhaps, the contrast between a stranger’s pair of pants and the plastic bag they’re holding or the light and shade patterns on a random window will catch my eye. Sometimes, it’s just a new technique I’d like to try out, so I design ‘around’ it to see how I can use it in a way that reflects my aesthetics.
I’m the very opposite of morning bird; I only begin to really be myself around noon or so. When I really get inspired, I can work late into the night.
I mostly listen to relaxed music, some 80’s influences, mainly female voices. One of my latest obsessions is Susanne Sundfør, a Norwegian singer-songwriter, who creates modern music with an 80’s twist to it – of which I just can’t get enough!
I’m munching mainly on chocolate and pretzels, some apples here and there, but mostly, chocolate and pretzels 🙂 Oh and coffee! I hate eating large meals when I work, so small meals and munching is what I do most of the day!
I wear comfy clothes, minimal in nature with an occasional graphic print.
Describe the first piece you ever designed…
I can’t remember the very first one, but I dabbled for a few years with many different styles of handbags (and some other products, actually), until I’ve found my current style, the one I believe really reflects who I am, as a designer. Those bags had many shapes, materials, prints, and techniques – very interesting and slightly weird to see in retrospect. Those items were really all over the place, and with each one that wasn’t “the one”, I kept getting closer to realizing my true voice.
Who is your mentor?
I can’t say I really have a mentor, but if I have to choose one, I’d go with the internet 🙂
I’m very autodidact; almost everything I’ve ever learned was from just trying stuff or looking it up on the internet. I’ve never formally studied art or design, but I had a few years of just experimenting or just staring at the wall without a clue of how to move forward. With time, I learned to better manage my time and effort – to become more efficient and to know myself as a designer.
I find myself learning a lot from people I work with. I just ask a lot of questions, and if they’re patient and kind enough to show me some secrets of their profession – that’s the best way I can learn.
How would you describe your personal style, both wardrobe and home decor?
I’m a minimalist, but a colorful one 🙂
Both my home and my wardrobe are mainly made of white, grey, and a few black basic pieces (I have no idea how many white t-shirts I have, but I always get more). With them, I like to wear one or two colorful pieces, maximum. Almost no prints in my home or wardrobe, and if there are, they’re dots or any other simplistic geometric prints. I also like to color block once in a while, so I have many solid colorful pieces that normally go with the monochrome ones – but once in a while goes together for a more adventurous color-block look.
My home is mostly white and warm neutral colors, with some pops of color. I like to keep the color to the smaller pieces. That way, if I get bored, I can just replace them to create a different feel. I’m really not a big fan of ‘decoration’, so I have only 1 picture and just use a lot of vegetation to make my home feel more alive. You might find several dog and cat toys and beds lying around the house as well 🙂
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned about running your own business?
In order to manage my time, I have to see the full picture at any time, and not get carried away with stuff I feel like doing at the moment. I do listen to my mood and try not to fight it – to find the right stuff to do to get the best out of myself in any given situation. Another lesson I’ve learned is to try to make everything a challenge – a case to investigate. I used to hate marketing, until I started to think about it as a challenge or a scientific experiment. I’m very curious in my nature, so when a good challenge comes my way – I must embrace it and try to solve it. I haven’t gotten to the point of making paperwork interesting enough, but hopefully, I’ll get there some day as well 🙂
What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?
To embrace my nature, try not to fight it or change it. To understand my strengths and weaknesses, and use this knowledge to try to figure out when I should try to do something myself and when I better hire someone or simply ask for help.
What’s next for you?
Good question! I’d like to design stuff, so I’ll probably just continue my journey and find new stuff to design. Right now, I’m working on a statement jewelry line- first product that I’ve designed that isn’t a handbag or a clutch. I love working with new material and learning new techniques – so I think I’ll just continue to more fields, like accessories, home décor, and maybe fashion, one day. Who knows? What’s clear to me is that I’ll keep learning, experimenting, and making new, exciting stuff!