You can go to Paris and get a souvenir snow globe of the Eiffel Tower. You can go to New York and get a snow globe of the Empire State Building. And now you can go to Tel Aviv and get a snow globe of… a concrete bus stop or a lifeguard hut.
“I picked the weirdest spots in Israel,” says industrial designer Shaul Cohen, 38, about his series of humorous snow globes now on sale at Binyamini House Contemporary Crafts Center in Tel Aviv.
The curators of 2019 Berlin Design Week in October included Cohen’s Bauhaus snow globes in the show.
“I made a lot of fun of Bauhaus buildings and the Germans loved it,” says Cohen.
They also chose to exhibit his floor-tile piggybanks, which poke gentle fun at the way 1930s German immigrants to Israel used to stash their cash.
Cohen churns out his tongue-in-cheek creations in his spare time using the 3D printers in his commercial business, the 3D Factory in Jaffa.
This hobby started as a way to have a good time with his final project in the master’s degree program at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem.
“My bachelor’s degree final project was not fun, so I wanted to find a fun subject for my master’s,” Cohen tells ISRAEL21c.
The project encompassed about 20 humorous objects when he graduated four years ago. Now it’s up to more than 50.
“Almost every day I’m adding more objects,” he says. “I have an idea, make a sketch, print it out [on PLA plastic derived from cornstarch], paint it, take pictures and post them on Facebook and Instagram. I get likes. But it’s only for fun.”
Being an industrial designer, however, he makes sure his fun concepts almost always have a useful aspect.
Ever seen an Israeli soldier at a bus stop going home for the weekend, unable to keep his or her weary eyes open? Cohen designed an inflatable IDF beret that doubles as a travel pillow. “Soldiers can fall asleep anywhere, so why not give them a cushion to make it more comfortable?”
Cohen felt that the everyday experience of eating falafel in pita could use some help, too.
His falafel collection includes a scoop that molds a falafel ball big enough to fit inside an entire pita. This ensures that every last bite will have some falafel in it — not only a few stray cucumber pieces that fell to the bottom of the pocket bread.
There’s a “pita band-aid” maker that solves the messy problem of tahini leaking out the bottom of your pita (it’s made from another pita and is stuck on with — what else – tahini).
And there’s a gadget that lets falafel vendors open the pita without touching the bread (“They always use their hands and I can’t stand that,” cringes Cohen).
Another of his food helpers is a set of choppers on a keychain meant to tear the corner off plastic bags of chocolate milk, an Israeli childhood staple. Kids generally use their teeth to tear a sipping hole.
“When I was a kid, I couldn’t open the milk bag without making a mess, so I made this pocket keychain for kids like me,” says Cohen.
Also with children in mind, he printed a solid “wall” with a hole for a straw that kids could put around their flimsy Tropit soft-drink pouches. (This invention was inspired by US President Trump’s “build a wall” solution, explains Cohen.)
We asked if his hobby is therapeutic after a long day of work. “Absolutely,” Cohen says. “Anything that makes you smile is therapeutic.”