This month we head off to the vibrant city of Tel Aviv and discover the best this ancient yet incredibly modern metropolis has to offer, from design inspiration to the most stylish places to stay, eat — and shop.
Stay: The Jaffa
The allure of Tel Aviv — Israel’s second city and arguably, its party capital, can be partly be summed up by The Jaffa, a new luxury hotel conjured from what was once a 19thcentury French hospital and convent. Designed by British master of minimalism John Pawson, the hotel took ten years to restore and much like the city it inhabits, is an elegant amalgam of historic grandeur (part of a 13th-century wall from the Crusades features in the lobby) exuberant energy and sleek, contemporary design. which we were lucky enough to enjoy over three nights.
The stunning Chapel Bar is a must-see with its velvet upholstered, jewel-toned pews, stained glass windows, altar-turned-cocktail bar (open until 4am) and soaring ceilings featuring frescoes that took a team of 20 craftsmen over two years to restore — the originals works having been unbelievably covered in acrylic paint. Located in the heart of the bustling old city of Jaffa, the hotel is only a 20-minute drive south from the modern centre of Tel Aviv. thejaffatelaviv.com
Experience: The Sarona Market
Tel Aviv’s traditional food markets such as Carmel and Levinsky are a magnet for food-lovers on the hunt for local flavours but for a contemporary, Middle-East-meets-West culinary experience the new undercover Sarona Market is world-class — and a unique source of retail design inspiration.
What was once a warehouse situated on a 140-year-old former Templar colony, this new emporium now features over 100 specialty food stalls and eateries from cheese shops to liquer stores, and locally famed institutions such as Hummus Abu Hassan (its dense, nutty, fairy-floss like sweet Halva is the ultimate treat).
As a Sydney-based design practice we are constantly looking further afield for new ideas to exceed our clients’ expectations. The Sarona Market is a perfect example of how carefully considered precinct design — with the right retail mix and an emphasis on placemaking — can result in an exceptional outcome. We love that the market offers something for everyone, from traditional baklava cooked by local women to the sophisticated flavours of famous French eatery, Fauchon. “The highlight for me,” says studio founder Caroline Beresford, “was the cleverly designed canopy, which filtered dappled light into the interior spaces — and the beautiful flooring throughout, which nods to the cobbled Templar-era pathways of the local area.”
In terms of vibrancy and nightlife Tel Aviv’s Shenkin Street is well known but the neighbourhood we found most inspiring on our visit is Shabazi, a slightly grungier locale with a village-like atmosphere featuring winding, narrow laneways dotted with fashion-forward boutiques and one of our favourite discoveries — Mamma Anita’s gelato bar. Ironically there’s also an Anita’s in Sydney’s Bondi beach but it’s this gem of a store in bustling Shabazi that captured our imagination.
The interior fitout is an elegant mix of high-gloss turquoise joinery and brass detailing with an intricate blue-green ceiling and a magnificent opal glass pendant light, which sits proudly over the main counter. “For me, the overall look is Parisian chic-meets-old world icecream parlour charm,” says Beresford. “And the gelato wasn’t bad either.” Our favourite? “It was a close tie between limoncello and watermelon-and-mint.” anita-gelato.com
Discover: Tel Aviv Museum of Art and Magasin 3
For art, design and culture lovers Tel Aviv’s Museum of Contemporary Art is worth exploring. The sharp-angled exterior of the building — designed by American architect Preston Scott Cohen — is as impressive as its interior exhibitions, which range from a world-class collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art (Degas, Monet, Renoir) to galleries featuring 20th-century Israeli artists, and a special design and architecture wing.tamuseum.org.il
It might seem a little left-field to go all the way to Tel Aviv to discover a Swedish art gallery but for design and colour inspiration Magasin111 - Museum and Foundation for Contemporary Art is the bomb. A champion of collaboration with artists in order push boundaries and create new work, Magasin III is about as left field as the art world gets. Based in Stockholm with this satellite gallery in Tel Aviv, we love the gallery’s announcement from its chairman that the public program in Sweden is temporarily closed in order to “find a way to do something differently… and be more eccentric.” On show in Tel Aviv now until the end of August is a solo exhibition, Ocean and Caffeineby German artist Cosima von Bonin featuring an 11-metre long boat and a giant glass and fabric Octopus. magasin3.com/en/jaffa/
See you next month where we explore the beauty of our favourite texture right now for interiors….terracotta.