Industrial design is work and play for young duo

Liora Rosin and Nitsan Debbi are getting international notice for works that they clearly have a ball creating in their Tel Aviv studio.

“One of the benefits of doing what you like is you don’t notice you’re working,” says Liora Rosin, one half of the young Tel Aviv industrial-design duo of Studio Bet-Melacha.

Rosin and Nitsan Debbi, recent recipients of master’s degrees from Jerusalem’s prestigious Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, are already getting noticed for the works that they clearly have a ball creating.

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The women welcomed ISRAEL21c into their studio shortly after returning from Beijing Design Week, where they curated a “How To ….” design exhibition. It explored how YouTube has become an archive for lost crafts as well as a new venue for learning anything from making cotton candy to picking a lock.

“As designers and instructors at Bezalel, we are curious about how knowledge is accumulated and passed on from masters to students and from new masters on YouTube,” says Rosin, “even if it’s an 89-year-old teaching a specific kind of knitting.”

They chose relevant YouTube videos and parceled them out to eight Israeli and six Chinese designers, who were asked to create an object and upload a clip of their own making that showed something they’d learned in the process.

Cafeteria furnishings designed by Debbi and Rosin for the Van Leer Institute.

Cafeteria furnishings designed by Debbi and Rosin for the Van Leer Institute.

“How To … ” resulted from a conversation with the Beijing Design Week creative director during his summer visit to Israel’s Design Museum in Holon.

“It was the best elevator pitch we ever gave,” says Rosin.

“We don’t know yet what will come of it, but we want to take this concept to other countries and work with other designers,” adds Debbi. “This was the first step.”

Baked electronics, ceramic rulers

Just before the Beijing show, Debbi was featured on CNET for her “baked electronics” – clocks, radios and a flashlight whose original casings she had replaced with actual, edible bread.

But she practically rolls her eyes when asked about that collection.

“That was something I did at Bezalel. It was not a big project, yet somehow it got attention two years afterward,” says Debbi, whose first and last name were reversed in the CNET article. “I don’t think those pieces still exist anymore; maybe they’re in storage in my parents’ house.”

Far more exciting for the pair are their current items, available in the gift shops of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Bauhaus Center, and at the Asufa design store promoting young Israeli talent.

Salt sellers by Rosin and Debbi.

Salt sellers by Rosin and Debbi.

There are, for example, a series of elegant porcelain easy-to-fill saltshakers and a line of stainless steel water cups and carafe; wallets made with images of Israeli currency, and clever rulers fashioned from scraps of terrazzo floor tile.

“Israelis are always measuring by tiles, so we thought of making a ruler from tiles,” Debbi explains. “It’s a typically Israeli material we are totally in love with.”

Making money from what they like doing

Studio Bet-Melacha’s bread and butter, however, are commissions in design research and trend forecasting from companies including Osem/Nestle Foods. They have some major clients for such a young firm.

Debbi earned her bachelor’s degree at the Holon Institute of Technology and spent six months at the Köln International School of Design in Germany. Rosin got her first degree at the Eindhoven Design Academy in Holland.

They met as interns at Keter, an Israeli manufacturer of home and garden products sold in 90 countries. The two-year program included a full scholarship for a master’s degree in industrial design.

The pair participated in a lighting exhibition in Milan.

The pair participated in a lighting exhibition in Milan.

Debbi and Rosin began their partnership with some joint exhibitions at Bezalel, including cafeteria and lobby furniture designs that took first prize in a competition. They now both teach at Bezalel and opened their studio a year ago.

“We were working together already, so it was very organic to stay together once we’d figured out how to make money from what we like doing,” says Rosin. “Getting the space was the only actual decision we made, and the rest just happened.”

They claim to get their brightest ideas while stuck in traffic jams. “As long as we keep riding in a car we’ll do fine,” Debbi jokes.

2011-2012 exhibitions

“Floss” lighting competition (second prize)

“Plug In,” Design Space Gallery, Tel Aviv

“Playing with Food,” Beit-Meirov Gallery, Holon

“Reprodukt3,” Institute of Industrial Design, Warsaw

Venice Architecture Biennale

Milan Furniture Design Fair

Fashion.Art.Design, Tel Aviv

“How To … ,“ Beijing Design Week

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About Abigail Klein Leichman

Abigail Klein Leichman is a writer and associate editor at ISRAEL21c. Prior to moving to Israel in 2007, she was a specialty writer and copy editor at a daily newspaper in New Jersey and has freelanced for a variety of newspapers and periodicals since 1984.