A collection of modern furniture and home accessories, the exhibition called Design Matters showcases conceptual and functional pieces, which highlight contemporary Israeli culture.Israeli design is coming of age.

That is the verdict of critics, colleagues and other visitors who have viewed a high-profile exhibit on Israeli design currently on display at a prestigious gallery in Manhattan.

Over thirty Israeli designers are displaying their work at the Fellisimo Gallery. The exhibit opened in order to coincide with the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in Manhattan, and will remain on display through next week.

A collection of modern furniture and home accessories, the exhibition, called Design Matters, showcases conceptual and functional pieces, which highlight contemporary Israeli culture.

“The exhibition reveals a unique approach to design, a distinct methodology that emerges from the response to local issues, concepts, and narratives, to create a significant design statement,” according to the gallery’s brochure.

The show is the first of its kind, bringing modern Israeli designers together as a group for the first time. Included in the display are various types of furniture, housewares, lighting fixtures, vases and other objects.

The head curator of Fellisimo, Joey Tassaluna, a newly-converted devotee of Israeli design, personally chose the 31 objects on display and devoted an entire floor of the gallery to the exhibit.

The furniture and the objects from the Israeli design houses attracted has hundreds of visitors to the exhibit, including architects, designers, manufacturers, buyers and design students.

According to a report on the exhibit in the Israeli press, the designs on display have been termed “clever, practical, original and special.”
Professionals in the field were impressed by the high level of finish and by the aesthetic precision of the various items.

At the exhibit, the original and flexible and practical furniture stood out, particularly those objects which incorporated several functions in one product.

These include a yoga exercise space that doubles as seating, to a heating stove that also is used as a lighting fixture, to porcelain dishes that can also be hung decoratively on the wall, and perhaps the most original piece – a picnic table and chairs that can be carried from place to place by being ‘worn’ on the spare tire of a jeep.

The gallery initiated the exhibit in the wake of the success and popularity of the exhibits of several individual modern Israeli designers.

Making the exhibition possible was a group effort, with the driving force being the Federation for Israeli Design chairperson Hedva Almos. Almos also publishes the Israeli interior design and architecture magazine Building and Residence.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry took on the task of transferring the items on display from Israel to the US, and Building and Residence donated the printing of the invitations and the exhibit catalog; other companies donated thousands of dollars to the effort.

At the same time as the successful New York exhibition, Israeli designers are also in the spotlight on the other side of the world.

The exhibit ‘Domains – Contemporary Israeli Design’, curated by Nirith Nelson, is another show which includes some of Israel’s most talented designers.

The show’s staircases, innovative lighting and other intriguing designs are currently on display Melbourne, Australia at the RMIT Gallery.

Sharon Polishuk, Cultural Attaché of the Embassy of Israel, in Australia, said the travelling exhibit, which has been in the Far East and is now touring Australia, has helped Israeli design, and its unique features to be appreciated on a global scale.

“The lack of design and craft traditions in the young state of Israel, freed the designers from traditional constraints and enabled an innovative and witty approaches towards design,” Nelson said. “On the other hand, the melting-pot of the gathered immigrants from all over the world provided large and varied pool of inspiration.”

“Their design works are made of local and basic materials and have a temporary, vulnerable appearance. Shelving, vessels, lighting, chairs and stairs; the objects need not display any specific function; even when in use their simple unassuming lines blend and assimilate themselves into the surroundings.”

Director of RMIT Gallery, Suzanne Davies, said the exhibition aims to increase awareness of Israeli design and to underscore the lively dialogue between designers globally.

Thirteen designers are on display at the Melbourne event. In designer Hagai Harduff’s work ‘Modular Stairs’, he shows a staircase supported only by it’s own backbone instead of the traditional frame.

Raviv Lifshitz couples the recycling process with the ready-made, transforming daily items like umbrellas or ironing tables into one-off pieces. This way Lifshitz pays homage to the anonymous designer of mass-productions.

Adi Marom contemplates the idea of the mini-house with a minimalist, flexible approach, taking a playful look at the problem of space in the transitory residences of the 21st century.

The exhibition is supported by the Embassy of Israel in Australia and the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange (AICE). The exhibition will be on show until June 12.