There are photographs of the 2010 Ron Arad-designed museum, but I needed to see the Richard Serra-like steel ribbons for myself. I took a 20-minute taxi ride to the suburb of Holon and looked out the window for signs of architectural drama.
Design Museum is the latest addition to the Holon Mediatheque, a cultural hub consisting of public library, theater, cinema, and Israeli cartoon museum. But Arad's curving architectural marvel stands out on the wide plaza against those post-modern buildings of concrete and glass. Enormous red and orange steel strips wrap around two white cube gallery chambers, an open-air ramp to the second floor, a cafe/gift shop, and a patio, before thrusting into an upward spiral.
When I met up with Eyal de Leeuw, head of external relations, he was still high from recent Fashion Week events (Zac Posen flew in for a design talk; the fashion film Lotus Eaters was screened in the cinema). We meandered around and through the gallery, then stood in the half moon shadows of the sculpture, experiencing — firsthand — the testaments to good design.
Then it was over to the brand-spanking new wing of Tel Aviv Museum of Art, a giant polyhedron in sparkling white. Inside, three floors are bisected by stairs, elevators, and panels of light. It felt like standing inside a mirrored kaleidoscope or shattered pane of glass. Somehow it managed to showcase the Israeli art collection rather than overshadow it. Spacious galleries filled with works from the permanent collection (representing the Bezalel movement, 1990s Glocalism, and the charged canvases of Anselm Kiefer).
All that architecture can really make a girl hungry. We took a lunch break at nearby Heder Ochel (cafeteria), a modern Israeli eatery inspired by communal kibbutz dining. While sharing plates of smoked eggplant cream and platters of carpaccio, my lunching partner (the marketing director for David Intercontinental) suggested we check out a design-driven pop-up shop that surfaces every few weeks in a new place (like a Bauhaus garden apartment) with a new theme (sustainable lifestyle, Japanese design).
We found the pop-up on an unsuspecting block in a residential area. A stone foyer was turned into a garden of succulents, with firewood sculptures and a kitchen table displaying teas. Adjacent rooms had furniture displays and racks of clothes from local indie designers. Maybe I bought an item. Or two. For research purposes, of course.
Tomorrow: Winding through the old city of Jaffa and the Levinsky spice market.