Everyone's doing it. As design as a recognisable commercial and cultural activity continues to grow globally, eminently marketable and endlessly consumable, city after city seems to be launching a design week. Jerusalem is no exception. 25 November to 4 December sees the first Design Week in Jerusalem (with its interesting syntax), organised by the Jerusalem Center for Design, which features the types of events you'd expect from such a festival: a conference, an exhibition, a design competition and, naturally, the obligatory closing party.
Key event in the inaugural Design Week in Jerusalem 2010: 'Time 02' group show, held in the basement of the city's old Hansen Hospital, which was originally founded to treat lepers
Exhibitors, all graduates of Israel's various design departments, were invited to create work that engaged with the social, political, or indeed literal, fabric of Jersusalem
Curated by Israeli product designer Tal Gur, known best for his lighting designs in plastic, and conceived by young Israeli designer David Keller (both of whom are graduates of Jerusalem's respected Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design), 'Time 02' is a group show that takes as its conceptual starting point the culturally rich, but politically complex, city in which it appears. Located in the basement of the former 19th-century Hansen Hospital, which was established to treat lepers, a different kind of support is at work here: the exhibition offers a platform to graduates of the country's various design departments.
Ron Yosef's 'Permanent Temporary' collection of furniture, which features the blue polythene found throughout Jerusalem, a city undergoing constant renovation and rebuilding
Atar Brosh, Ohad Benit and Merav Shnaps's 'Jerusalem Clock' displays six very local times: the time for prayer, the opening times of the market, and so on
Limited-edition and one-off design forms a large part of the practice landscape in Israel, due, to a large degree, to the limited industrial-design opportunities domestically. Through this highly concept-led, often ready-made-oriented, work, a number of, at times provocative, ideas have been explored in 'Time 02' that engage critically with Jerusalem's social, political, religious and architectural identities.
Long-term Jerusalem resident David Keller pulped various kinds literature from different parts of the city's society (among others its Eastern Palestinian part, its Orthodox section and its tourist element) to apply to traditional copper vessels
Explosive city: Jerusalem's skyline respresented in Roi Vaspi Yanai and Dan Hochberg's 'Safety Matches'
Meanwhile, in Tel Aviv, a group show entitled 'Pâte Feuilletée' is drawing to a close at the coastal city's latest design space, the Paradigma Gallery, which opened earlier this year. Curated by established designer, Ezri Tarazi, who is also head of Bezalel's industrial design department, and the gallery's owner, Anat Benvenisti, the exhibition explores, as its name might suggest, 'the way that the raw material is aligned and the way that materials can rest in layers, representing either natural or artificial processes', as Tarazi puts it.
'Tradition Progress' is the title of Etay Amir's comment on religion that refuses to countenance contemporary societal values
Gal Lazar's 'Shabes' table is made of two rubbish bins, melted down and moulded into a piece of furniture. Orthodox Jewish demonstrations in Jerusalem often feature burning bins, the smell of which crosses the city
This idea of material strata that celebrate their stratification is made manifest in the work of, among others, David Amar, whose Campana-esque 'Raymond' tables use chaos as an organisational paradigm, and Nir Meiri, who has designed a bench into which a pair of leather-upholstered stools sit neatly, providing a highly graphic, highly pleasurable cross-section-like side view.
Meanwhile in Tel Aviv... The Paradigma Gallery, fast establishing a reputation for showing some of the best concept-led design work from Israel's growing design scene, has played host to an exhibition entitled 'Pâte Feuilletée'
An installation shot from the Paradigma Gallery's 'Pâte Feuilletée' show, with Nir Meiri's highly graphic integrated bench/stools in the foreground
These two small-scale shows demonstrate once again the conceptually strong, materially resourceful design practice to be found in Israel's growing design scene. And with more editions of Design Week in Jerusalem certain to follow, this is, like a piece of pâte feuilletée, just the first layer.
read Architonic's in-depth 'Design Israel' feature
to the Paradigma Gallery website