As part of Holon Design Week Israeli designers and design-related entrepreneurs were asked to pitch their ideas to a panel of international design week directors and press. Among them were the Dutch/Israeli duo named Darom.
Darom literally means ‘south’ in Hebrew, a reference to the design studio’s geographical position in the trendy Yaffo area in the south of Tel Aviv, and a play on the Dutch word ‘daarom’ meaning because.
The duo are Israeli designer Li Levi and her Dutch counterpart Jantien Roozenburg. After meeting through their partners, the two became neighbors and quickly discovered their shared love of design, similar aesthetics and likeminded ambitions.
“Israeli and Dutch design aren’t really that different”, says Roozenburg sitting at her large yellow worktable. “It’s just that Dutch design has been around for a long time and Israeli design is – like the state of Israel – much younger. Besides, the huge incubating role (funding) of the Dutch government towards Dutch design has given it a lot of artistic freedom, whereas Israeli design tends to be more commercial. The designer herself has lived in Tel Aviv for five years now and explains how craft plays a huge role in daily life here. ‘“n the Netherlands craftsman are scarcely spread and perceived as a form of art, small industry is rare, making it hard to afford. Here, I just get on my bike and cycle from the tannery to the bag maker and on to one of the many carpenters. Craft is a normal part of city life here”
A rare find for the Design Academy Eindhoven graduate. “Although Eindhoven and Holon – fast becoming Israel’s design centrum – have many similarities”, she quickly adds. “Both cities have comparable working-class backgrounds and both are now wonderful hubs for design. The Holon Design museum itself is fantastic, and takes a leading role in the development of Israeli design”
Despite their similarities, Israel and The Netherlands are two very different worlds and the influences of daily life in such a conflict-stricken country is apparent in Darom’s work. Taking from their surroundings, Levi and Roozenburg create objects which prompt discussion. The bookends resembling the Westbank wall for instance, or a bag made of bra padding.
“Concepts are usually developed individually, then it’s a game of pingpong. Li guards the product’s sex appeal by always leaving some room for the imagination, whereas I focus on the practical issues and love the details”, Roozenburg explains.
It is important to us that despite the meticulous design process products should appear effortless and pure.
In addition to these works the duo focuses on material research, developing products which look at materials in new and innovative ways. “We’d love to work on commissions, offering new views on materials and production methods.”
Now two years old, Darom would most like to be an international studio, working from both Israel and The Netherlands. “It’s time to expand the business, hire interns which is how I started out in this city.”
The books ends play on that fact, emitting a sense of fear and aggression. “Although it feels safe here in Tel Aviv, in fact we don’t live a peaceful country. When the borders are closed and there is a conflict in your own country, that can feel rather oppressive.”
Tel Aviv offers both designers a wealth of knowledge and craft. “I love how this city works, although the market here is tiny, possibilities for a designer are endless."
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