A fellow teacher at the design school Studio 6B in Tel Aviv told theatrical and couture clothing designer Michal Motil about Design Terminal – a newly opened social enterprise in nearby Bat Yam, offering common studio, retail and exhibition space to 11 qualified designers in return for six hours of volunteer teaching in local high schools.
“I said immediately, ‘I want to be there.’ I love working in a space with other people who can share ideas with me,” Motil tells ISRAEL21c. She already volunteers with an elderly Holocaust survivor, so the project sounded like a perfect fit for her.
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Itai Palti initially was more wary. The idea of moving to an industrial park in working-class Bat Yam from hip Tel Aviv did not seem appealing.
“My first reaction was, ‘Bat Yam? I don’t think so.’ But I realized it’s exactly what I need to help me get introduced to the local industry,” Palti tells ISRAEL21c. “When they called me to say I’d won a spot, I was really happy. We have good designers here from all the fields, and I’m interested in collaborating with them.”
Design Terminal is the newest innovation from the Israeli non-profit organization Latzet Mehakufsa (Out of the Box), which promotes young Israeli designers while sponsoring social and educational enterprises in the arts.
ISRAEL21c previously reported on the group’s 2011 national paint-can design contest, whose proceeds went to a professional training course for talented Jewish and Arab at-risk youth.
Thinking out of the box
True to its name, Out of the Box usually themes its fundraisers around boxes and cans. Since 2009, it has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars by selling boxes imprinted with contest-winning designs in tribute to occasions such as Tel Aviv’s centennial and the Jewish Agency for Israel’s 80th anniversary.
These successful contests not only put money into the coffers of an assortment of community-based design endeavors but also raise the profile of the talented designers who participate.
Design Terminal takes the organization to a whole new level, according to Liron Hershkovitz, who founded Out of the Box while studying design at the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Academic College. It’s a partnership between the non-profit, the municipality and the Israeli clothing chain Castro, which donated an empty warehouse for the project.
The large renovated space has private or semi-private studio-stores around its periphery. The communal center area is reserved for exhibitions, open studio days — when the public can speak with the designers as they work — as well as family activities and concerts to benefit the program.
Each studio has a low monthly rental price tag of NIS 1,000, including taxes and utilities.
“It takes a very forward-thinking city council to give this project its full backing. The Design Terminal will help rebrand Bat Yam as a place for designers,” London-born Palti says with confidence.
Now they can be designers
Sarit Lulae, a 2002 graduate of the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, previously helped Hershkovitz develop a design entrepreneurship workshop now in its fourth year.
She continued volunteering with Out of the Box while building Nuki’le, her formerly home-based business creating baby and children’s items sold at 60 stores across Israel.
“Latzet Mehakufsa is in my soul,” Lulae tells ISRAEL21c. She was the first to move into the Design Terminal and in late February was to start her six weekly hours teaching PhotoShop and graphic design to Bat Yam students.
“I was looking for a studio, and Liron said, ‘Listen, we’re doing this program and you should come and see if it works for you and if you can get in.’ They interviewed all the applicants to see what level our business is at and what our plans are.”
It was through the entrepreneurship course that Bezalel Academy of Art and Design graduate Avital Tseitlin met Hershkovitz. She is sharing a Design Terminal studio with two colleagues, and will be growing her web design business alongside volunteer teaching 11th- and 12th-graders on a non-academic track.
“Usually they’d be car mechanics, but now they can be designers,” says Tseitlin.
The other tenants are graphic designer Limor Peretz, industrial designer Rotem Bat-Shalom, print and TV ad designer Meital Rettig, branding and custom web designer Philip Levin Slesarev, visual communication Studio Amama, kitchenware designer Guy Klipstein and textile and accessories designer Ziv Ben Gal.
Ben Gal, recently returned from six years of study at the Eindhoven design academy in Holland, is nurturing his own business and consulting for Ayala Sarfaty’s international Tel Aviv-based lighting firm Aquacreations. He may also start collaborating with Palti, who has expressed an interest in experimenting with Ben Gal’s rich textiles as partitions in residences. In addition to his compulsory volunteering, he would like to teach knitting to young children.
Ben Gal snipped off one of his fabric business cards to give ISRAEL21c, and showed us his scarves, recycled handbags and knitted jewelry made of silk, mohair or linen.
“I came back to Israel half a year ago and heard about this place, so I applied and I’m really happy to be here,” says Ben Gal. “It’s unique to be with designers from different fields.”