Is Brad Pitt dating an Israeli MIT professor?
Neri Oxman, a groundbreaking MIT design and architecture professor, has been romantically linked to the actor.
Has one of Brad Pitt's most cherished passions blossomed into a passion of another kind?
Hollywood gossip is rife with word that Pitt may be dating Neri Oxman, an MIT professor and celebrated architect and designer. The pair reportedly met while collaborating on a MIT architectural project.
"Brad and Neri instantly hit it off because they share the same passion for architecture, design and art," a source told Page Six. "This is best described as a professional friendship."
Best-known for his career in Hollywood, Pitt's love for the silver screen does not match the zeal he shares for architecture. Notable projects have included spearheading the rebuilding of New Orleans' hurricane-devastated Lower 9th Ward, as well as the design of a hotel in the Mediterranean.
"I'm really into architecture, structure and design," he told Vanity Fair. "Give me anything and I'll design it. I'm a bit nutty with it."
Oxman, highly respected for her groundbreaking work in merging nature and design, will certainly keep the dinner conversations interesting. Below are just a few interesting tidbits we've gathered on her career, inspiration and remarkable art projects.
She was born in the coastal Mediterranean city of Haifa, Israel.
According to Oxman, growing up in the coastal city of Haifa, Israel meant a childhood steeped in both "nature and culture." Time spent between her architect parents' studio and grandmother's extensive gardens would later prove to be huge influences in her decision to become a "material ecologist."
"As an architect – I believe in the synergy between the buildings we design, and the environments they form and inhabit; as a designer – I believe that the products we design are extensions of and for human body," she said in an interview. "As a scholar of nature [and a medical scholar], I believe in the integration between buildings, products and the environment."
With Haifa home to Israel's Museum of Architecture, as well as extensive hiking trails and other natural excursions, it's no wonder that Oxman found such inspiration from its rolling hills and sun-drenched beaches in her early years.
She studied at Hebrew University, Israel's Technion Institute and the London Architectural Association School of Architecture.
Neri Oxman graduated from the London Architectural Association School of Architecture in 2004. (Photo: Joi Ito / Flickr
To arrive at her current work studying the synergy between design and nature, Oxman's education roadmap took her through a number of prestigious universities. These included Hebrew University in Jerusalem for medical school, the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa for architecture, and the London Architectural Association School of Architecture. After completing a PhD in architecture at MIT, she became an associate professor at the Boston-based research university in 2010.
"I always tell my students: Take the long way," she told actress Laura Dern last fall. "There are no mistakes. It’s the scenic route – that’s where all the wonder happens."
Her artwork has been displayed across the globe – at the Museum of Modern Art, the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and at the Smithsonian.
In 2010, Oxman founded the Mediated Matter research group at the MIT Media Lab. Using design inspired by nature and technological advancements such as 3D printing, the group has created a massive number of intriguing, bizarre and stunningly beautiful pieces that have been featured in museums around the world.
In 2016, she collaborated with the Icelandic singer Björk on several 3D-printed masks that were featured both on stage and in her performance of the world's first 360° VR music video.
She gave an awesome TED Talk.
In 2015, Neri gave a TED Talk on her research and the creations coming out of her lab. It offers a fascinating look at what's possible today – as well as what's coming tomorrow. For a hint of the creative and inventive applications currently being explored, check out an excerpt from her talk below:
"We design objects and products and structures and tools across scales, from the large-scale, like this robotic arm with an 80-foot diameter reach with a vehicular base that will one day soon print entire buildings, to nanoscale graphics made entirely of genetically engineered microorganisms that glow in the dark," she explained. "Here we've reimagined the mashrabiya, an archetype of ancient Arabic architecture, and created a screen where every aperture is uniquely sized to shape the form of light and heat moving through it."
She began teaching at MIT in 2010 where her research explores the intersection of nature and design.
What exactly does a "material ecologist" study? Based on what we've read, Oxman's unique profession is the study of how designers can artificially recreate natural phenomena.
"A practicing material ecologist will therefore engage multiple disciplines – computational design, digital fabrication, synthetic biology, the environment, and the material itself – as inseparable and harmonized dimensions of design," she said.
As a result of her groundbreaking explorations in nature and design, Oxman has appeared on the covers of such notable magazines like Fast Company, Wired UK and Surface.
Her design aesthetic is rife with meaning.
As Neri explains in the video above, her approach to design is inspired by nature's architects. "Living things are not chiseled," she says. "They grow." More than that, however she sees her exploration of this new space as further evidence of design's usefulness in approaching a variety of challenges faced by our modern world.
"Design, like language itself, conveys meaning through the creation of wholes that are bigger than the sum of their parts," she said. "And when a tight connection exists between method and form, technique and expression, process and product, one can enter the realm of the generative, where design transcends problem solving and becomes a system of thinking about making to attack any world problem."
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE: