Orly Robinson’s lushly photo-illustrated design books are already best-sellers in Israel. Now she’s planning to move into the foreign market.
“One of the most powerful memories of my childhood is where I am in my room, almost obsessively challenging myself again and again and again to imagine changing the furniture, the linens, the color, the curtains, the accessories, the photos,” says Orly Robinson, the Israeli author of 10 interior design books.
Her newest work coming to Israeli bookstores this spring is Beresheet Design, an elaborate 280-page album of contemporary Israeli design inspired by the book of Genesis. She is also all set to start work on a book in English for the foreign market.
“The room was my inner world, and I was aware of composition, colors and their meaning,” she tells ISRAEL21c. “I had a strong desire to make it a place of gathering for friends, myself and my siblings.”
Fortunately for Orly, she was born in Haifa (in 1969) as one of four children of an architect father. She recalls him marveling at the colors and shapes of nature – even tomatoes as he sliced them for salad.
The family lived in a home on stilts, and her bedroom was perched on the fourth floor. “Any change I suggested was welcomed with lots of assistance and admiration,” she recalls. “I was always interested in design. It flows in my blood.”
Robinson’s lushly photo-illustrated works, most of them published by Crown Books, are best-sellers in Israel. During the recent Jerusalem International Book Fair, she met with a leading publishing house and set the stage for a new book to be written in English for the foreign market in the near future.
Her first title, Rooms, came out 10 years ago and focused on design elements for each room of a private house. It was followed by Rooms in the City, featuring 40 urban homes and apartments. Kitchen Design presents dozens of kitchens across Israel, with a variety of styles and design solutions. She’s also done books on children’s room and garden design in Israel, and her 20 Houses showcases modern minimalist abodes.
The Robinson collection also includes an inside look at 40 avant-garde restaurants and cafés; portraits of the life and work of Israeli architects Saadia Mandel and Jonathan Monjack; and a 550-page tome devoted to outstanding Israeli designers working in fashion, jewelry, ceramics, jewelry, accessories and interior design.
Beresheet Design (published by Yediot Achronot) contains striking photos of modern architecture, interior design, textiles and jewelry set against the backdrop of evocative biblical texts describing Abraham’s Mesopotamia homestead, Pharaoh’s palace, the tents of Sarah and Isaac, and many other settings described in the book of Genesis.
Robinson collaborated on this book with art collector and curator Zila Yaron, traveling around the Holy Land seeking just the right matches for the ancient images. “The trip was wonderful, exciting and challenging,” she says. “Our unforgettable encounters with people, places and creativity will be a gift for my whole life.”
Robinson studied architecture in high school and helped her father as he designed villas and private homes. Later on, she felt a burning desire to explore design in book form, one topic at a time.
“Book production is a very long and complicated process,” says Robinson, who has worked with the same support staff of five talented women for the past decade. “My ideas go through many incarnations until they are finalized. They can grow out of a trend or out of a need that I recognize. When a topic ignites the imaginations of my entire staff, I know that we have the right one.”
Robinson’s focus for her next project is design in the city of Tel Aviv.
Happiest at home
Robinson calls her own family’s home in the small agricultural village of Ein Vered “one of my most meaningful projects ever – after my three amazing children, of course. It brings out everything I am.”
The family’s house, as well as Robinson’s office, are contained in totally renovated field huts originally built in the village by World War II refugees. Furnished with family heirlooms, the house was designed organically to fit with its natural environment surrounded by fruit trees. Renovations were done with an eye toward conservation and local materials and with respect for the history and buildings of the surrounding farmlands. Robinson and her husband, Roy, entertain and host overnight guests often. They are doting parents to sons Dor, seven, and Ido, 15, and daughter Adaya, 11. Each has inherited their mother’s highly tuned aesthetic sensibilities.
“My greatest happiness is a house filled with friends and family,” she says.
Orly Robinson’s interior design tips
Kitchen: Kitchens are the hub of our busy lives and must be open and flowing, with enough room to allow all family members to eat together comfortably and to accommodate holiday guests. The most successful houses are those that begin with a well-designed kitchen.
Living room: This is the “business card” of the house and especially of the family. Incorporate books, photos, collections, works of art, etc., to make it personal and intimate, warm and familial.
Parents’ room: The couple’s private domain should be cozy, with soft wraps, carpets, curtains, bedspreads and luxurious bedding.
Children’s rooms: A child’s room is an intimate house within the house, where the kids sleep, host, learn, play and grow older. It should adapt to accompany the child from infancy to adulthood. Choose a storage closet that will stand the test of time, while accessories and decorative accents can be changed according to trends and in relation to child age.
Bathroom: One of the most important rooms in the house, the bathroom should be a place of relaxation and renewal. Robinson’s master bathroom has wood floors that are warm and pleasant to the touch of bare feet, and a skylight over the tub, which is surrounded by oversized, fluffy towels.