Rafi Ajl specializes in making furniture and homegoods locally here in Berkeley. He founded The Long Confidence in 2017 to focus on creating contemporary heirlooms driven by quality and curiosity. Each piece is made by hand with intention and he uses a mixture of contemporary and traditional joinery methods designed for a lifetime of use. We were so fortunate to start our collaboration with Rafi a few years ago after a fortuitous meeting at a curated holiday event with like minded artists selling their pieces. Bridget was pouring wine and his unique glassware resonated with her -- she bought a few to hold space in her and Chris’s home kitchen. Rafi had also enjoyed our wines before but didn’t realize his studio and the winery are a stone’s throw apart, both able to hear the train as it passes through. It really was a magnetic coming together, a meeting of minds and art. So, when the pandemic began and Chris and Bridget came up with the idea of creating the perfect glass -- they turned to Rafi. Read more about this on our Making Glass page.
We interviewed a Rafi to hear his perspective of our blooming collaboration and what art means in this wild world.
Where is your creativity rooted?
My mom has always been an artist. Being around that and ensconced in creativity and making meant I was never not making things, taking things apart and putting things back together. Drawing, legos, blocks turned into bicycles and then furniture. I can’t imagine a life where I’m not doing that. Doodling, making, building is so much a part of me. I always have something in my hands, always creating.
How did fatherhood change your relationship with your work and your art?
I love working and I’ve always worked a lot. I don't think throwing yourself unproductively into something is good, but I’m used to focusing for long periods of time. Now, those periods of time need to be more intentional, pragmatic and focused. I have to be caring and thoughtful with my time. I’m fortunate to be able to spend my mornings with my son, Isa. I get focused dad time for us to bond, play, and be together. I don't want to be in a situation where I don't get to hang out with him because of my work. Then I’m home in the evening and it’s my responsibility to put him to bed every night. This works well now but I want to get to a point where I can spend more time with him during the week. Weekends are family days for all of us together and we try not to work at all.
How did becoming a father change you as a person?
I haven’t spent a lot of time actually reflecting on it - it’s been such a crazy year, as Isa was born right at the beginning of the shutdown. But on the whole, something that I said to my mom, actually, is that I feel complete in a way I’ve never felt before. It wasn’t that there was an absence but once we had him it made me feel complete in a way I never really did before.
The Wine Glass you made for Broc has been so popular. Do you have any more tableware in the works?
Yes! The obvious addition to some beautiful wine glasses is a decanter. It’s in the works, in the sketching stage, and a little computer modeling, and then we will move to paper models. It will be different than making the glasses. There will be a mold but some parts will have to be free form glass blowing which is tricky. It is going to be a more special and limited heirloom piece.
How did creating the new Broc patio furniture work into this collaboration?
Chris and Bridget approached me a few months ago and asked “Do you have time and are you interested in this project? We are going to redo the whole patio. We went and looked at some things at stores. We just feel like we have to do it with you.” How could I say ‘no’? We went through a similar exercise as with making the glass, talked about what they needed and what kinds of spaces they were looking to create. It ended up being quite a lot of furniture and came together quickly. Seeing the space with my furniture in it really makes sense. Our work is sympathetic to each other. It’s hard to imagine drinking other wine, sitting on different furniture.
Can you tell me about the meaning behind The Long Confidence?
It’s memorable and somewhat irreverent. It’s also a personal inside joke. It’s hard to do what you want to do in this world and get to spend the time doing what you want to be doing. A play on the con game and the long game. A lot of work. The long work.
What’s next for you at The Long Confidence?
Well, I’m going to have to tackle actually blowing glass -- which is a decades long craft to master. Mostly kidding. I have a sketchbook’s worth of new ideas, and orders come in, so it’s hard to balance doing research and product development with fulfilling orders. But more pieces - some more sculptural, lighting, more glassware, and some exciting collaborations!