Under the influence: Tower of David Museum explores the heritage of two Israeli designers
Jerusalem’s Tower of David Museum is hosting ’Objectives’, a new contemporary design and art exhibition curated by Smadar Keren that chronicles the work of two internationally-renowned local designers, Ezri Tarazi and Haim Parnas, who were both born and raised in the city.
The museum’s breathtaking location – in a restored citadel that has guarded the entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem for hundreds of years – is particularly fitting for the show, which explores the designers’ relationship with the city and how it has informed their work. Archival pieces are displayed alongside detailed texts, photographs and films that illustrate the story behind each design, placing as much emphasis on the making processes as the finished objects.
As well as existing works, each designer has created a unique piece especially for the occasion; in a vibrant set up that is evocative of his own studio space, Parnas has created four poignant assemblages of sculptures, wall ornaments and stools, displayed alongside archaeological finds, mementos and murals. Each one tells a story about the designer and his home city, layering together the physical, political and spiritual.
Meanwhile, Tarazi has created nine limited edition tables based upon the map of the Old City. One of the tables, called Dirt from Your Earth, has a laser cut steel surface, which features precisely-cut holes that each accommodate a conical porcelain bowl. The deep, wheel-turned bowls are made using porcelain clay mixed with soil from the Temple Mount excavations – a subtle comment on the city’s political-religious issues.
Israeli improvisation is the innovation that this place produces, Tarazi explains. ’The link between things that do not connect – secularism and practising Judaism, beauty and violence, spirituality and militarism – all coexist here, and this is what I am trying to touch on in my works. […] In many respects, design deals not only with the reflectiveness of art, but with utopian futurology.’