Israel Revealed: the remarkable rise of Israeli design

Israel Revealed: the remarkable rise of Israeli design

This month's issue of Wallpaper* includes a copy of Israel Revealed, a special supplement on Israeli design, architecture and style, produced in association with high-end Israeli quartz surface manufacturer Caesarstone. As a leading supplier of vanities, wall cladding and flooring to both residential and commercial clients and, increasingly, a powerhouse in the design world, Caesarstone now sells its product in over 50 countries worldwide. With an eye for young talent, the company also works with designers, curators, architects and fabricators to create one-off quartz-stone sculptures, furnishings, events and wall art. In 2014, Wallpaper* worked with Caesarstone on a piece for our annual Handmade exhibition at Milan’s Salone del Mobile, and it also wowed us with its outstanding collaboration with young design duo Raw-Edges, shown at the same fair. So when Wallpaper* was looking for a partner for our special Bespoke project, Caesarstone was the perfect fit. To celebrate the launch of this exciting supplement, we will be hosting a party on 18 December in Tel Aviv. Here we present interviews with the current crop of gifted architects and interior designers that are shaping the state of Israel’s new skyline with a brave, bold vision while continuing to explore the situated modernist style and adapting modern trends to the country’s cultural, climatic and local traditions

Refusing to recognise the borders between architecture and interior design or industrial design, Alex Meitlis specialises in total environment design. Notable work includes the Ottolenghi chain in London, the Savion house just outside Tel Aviv, and the behavioural science laboratories at Ben Gurion University.

How has the architecture of Israel influenced your work?
I am a modernist that grew up in Tel Aviv surrounded by the Bauhaus buildings They had an impact on my designs and also the local Palestinian architecture with its amazing respect for the weather and local landscape.

Israel, particularly Tel Aviv, is spoilt for modernist architecture. Which is your favourite modern building in Israel?
In Zichron Ya’akov there is a sanitarium built by Yaakov Rechter in the 1960s. It is one of the few modernist masterpieces built in Israel.

What are the advantages of working as an architect in Israel?
We are a country built by refugees who arrived with a forward-looking attitude. All rules are encouraged to be broken.

Among contemporary Israeli architects, whose work do you admire most?
Shimon Shapiro is our local secret. He is Israel’s Frank Lloyd Wright and, having taught at Bezalel for over 30 years, has educated all our best creators. He taught us all to respect both our site and our client, and also to listen to what clients are really saying when they talk, the subconscious as a part of the creative process.

How does the climate impact on your work and how does it affect what you design?
I have a passion for shade. It is essential for life in a place of intense heat. So my architecture is all about where the sun is and when.

Do you like to work with materials and craftspeople indigenous to Israel?
My studio is in Florentin, a working class suburb of Tel Aviv where the furniture workshops are all centred. All the furniture, lighting, flooring and other fixtures I use for my spaces are manufactured within 150m of my office.

www.alexmeitlis.com

Alex Meitlis
Alex Meitlis Architecture & Design

Orly Shrem is one of Israel’s most prolific and respected architects. She established her practice in 1985, and key projects include the interior design of the Rothschild 1 residential tower in downtown Tel Aviv.

How has the architecture of Israel influenced your work?
I am especially influenced by the Arab buildings and they way they use light, as well as the Templer houses with the tiled roofs.

Israel, particularly Tel Aviv, is spoilt for modernist architecture. Which is your favourite modern building in Israel?
The Habima Square auditorium, completed in 1957. It's timeless, elegant and up to date.

What are the advantages of working as an architect in Israel?
The advantage is the people, coming from all over the world, the outdoor living and the amazing sky. Tel Aviv is noisy and crowded but it’s beautiful. My office is located opposite the sea and it’s a great inspiration.  

Among contemporary Israeli architects, whose work do you admire most?
I admire the 1950s generation who brought international architecture but remained local with a tight budget.

How does the climate impact on your work and how does it affect what you design?
The light has a major impact on interior design, but these days we are able to offer bigger windows and better air-conditioning. Outdoor living is as important as the indoors, so for me, designing a house should always mean integrating outdoor and indoor life.

Do you like to work with materials indigenous to Israel and if so, which particular materials?
I love all local natural stone such as limestone, and especially a sandstone called kurkar.

Orly Shrem
Orly Shrem Architects

Founded in 1999 by Alon Baranowitz and Irene Kronenberg, the studio works internationally providing architectural and interior design services for the private and public sector. Notable projects include the Sir Albert Hotel, Amsterdam, Israel Museum Shop, and the Pastel brasserie at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Israel, particularly Tel Aviv, is spoilt for modernist architecture. Which is your favourite modern building in Israel?
The Mivtachim sanitarium in Zichron Ya'akov by Yaakov Rechter.

What are the advantages of working as an architect in Israel? 
Lack of discipline leads to experimental design!

Among contemporary Israeli architects, whose work do you admire most?
Al Mansfeld for his poetics, conviction, vision, sketches and for giving us the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

How does the climate impact on your work and how does it affect what you design?
We sweat a lot! But really, it is as much a part of our context as culture, politics, time and place. Our designs strive for the shadows and the gusts of the Mediterranean. 

www.bkarc.com

Alon Baranowitz & Irene Kronenberg
Baranowitz Kronenberg Architecture

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