I am a dying breed. I admit it. My generation of Israelis is global-minded, well travelled and sadly, in the last decade or so, often looking outside our borders for design trends.
Though an ex-pat, I am also a proudly patriotic citizen of Israel and I am astounded by the homegrown art and design scene that’s flourishing today. Local artisans are pulling inspiration from 5,700+ years of history, leaving international companies desperate to break into the booming scene.
Israel’s textile industry used to be a vast one with fabrics produced by hand. As the world turned to mass production, manufacturers looked East for less expensive alternatives and, until recently, the industry was nearly abolished.
Thankfully a new generation of fashion and design artisans is embracing craftsmanship and the textile industry is recovering.
Mika Barr is a textile designer who stumbled on a process for manipulating and reshaping fabrics into striking new geometric shapes. Mika’s textiles now cover lampshades, furniture and hand bags.
Shai’s Buy: I couldn’t resist purchasing a new floor lamp (adapted to North American voltage) from Mika’s line of textile enhanced goods.
As a designer, I’m forever looking for functional items that have a new and interesting twist. In my experience, bar/counter stools can be somewhat utilitarian. But not at the hand of Ushki Design Studio.
Shai’s Buy: I love these birch veneered, coloured paper, steel framed works of art…or, seating. I’ll be placing my order tomorrow morning!
Importing goods to Israel was traditionally very expensive, so it was rare to spot North American staples like Coca-Cola and Pepsi on store shelves. Not to be left out, Israel invented the Soda Stream. Years ago it allowed the locals to fit simple soda gas canisters into standard bottles and infuse the beverage with bubbles. Today, of course, you’ll find every type of soda imagined on local shelves and Soda Stream has rebranded itself to a worldwide audience.
Shai’s Buy: My fave is the new design line in blue. It’s fully automated—one press of a button and voilà, custom carbonation.
Some refer to this traditional relic as the hand of Fatima. In Arabic, Hamsa means five. Everyone agrees the elegant icon is a symbol of good luck and, in some cultures, a protector from the evil eye.
Shai’s Buy: Travellers to Israel will be spoiled for choice as most shops carry at least a few versions of this favourite memento. I picked up two at Irit Goldberg Ceramics.
From Issue 15 – May 2014