There’s a penchant toward collectives in these parts. It all began with the ultimate cooperative grouping, the kibbutz, and went on to gather steam with the moshav, a slightly less cohesive but still cooperative grouping of agricultural types, and continued on with transportation cooperatives — bus company Egged still retains the description — artist, music, pottery and now, designer collectives.
The concept behind the collective is just that; a collection of people and their products, coming together to sometimes produce together or just sell their wares collectively. In any city, where rents are high and sales uncertain, it makes much more sense to band together in order to market and sell one’s pieces, taking turns to run the store, check inventory and make nice with the customers. There is a method to the collective madness.
Take some time to visit a few of our favorites:
1) Collect, an independent boutique of Israeli designers, features six partner designers who specialize in different areas: Lucca shoes by Noa Luria, jewelery by Meital Barokas, hats by Justine, ceramics by Naomi Schossberger, and the Kora clothing line by Tamar Ziv and Keren Bet-Esh.
The room is filled with delicate pottery, wooly scarves, dresses, cozy wraps, flowing viscose tops (that are perfect for the Israeli summer), signature felt hats and an abundance of jewelry — made from everything from yarn and gold to leather and fabric.
Started less than a year ago, Collect also sells pieces by other independent designers, offering a real option for designers starting out on their own, but without the funds for a studio or storefront. The added bonus at Collect is that the designers are often there — running the shop and fussing over clients. They can help create an outfit on the spot and rearrange a piece of jewelery right then and there. Best of all, they’ll brainstorm on how to make an outfit that you’ll love, for a price you like.
30 Montefiore Street, Tel Aviv
2) Ha’agaf Art Gallery: A relatively new Haifa art space located in Haifa’s slowly rejuvenating port area, Ha’agaf, or The Wing, was formed by seven artists working and living in the area. Their aim is to display cutting-edge pieces by individuals and groups (another version of the collective), and the gallery has a peaceful feel, even if some of the works are more jarring to view. You may bump into some of the artists while you’re there, and it’s always fun to wander around the general area, particularly as it’s still in its pre-polished harbor state.
Hanamal 51, Haifa
3) Altogether 8: A longtime favorite among the several ceramic cooperatives in Jerusalem, there are — as the name says — eight ceramic artists selling their works in this cooperative that has been around for more than 25 years, from its first location on Haneviim Street. There’s always a wide selection of coffee mugs, havdalah sets, candlesticks and mezuzahs, as well as more contemporary bowls and trays, or a solid talisman to turn in your hand. Several of the artists have been selling there for years, but there’s often a new name or two, offering a different take on the ceramic front.
11 Yoel Salomon, Nachalat Binyamin, Jerusalem
4) Artist’s House in the Negev: The seven rooms of the Artist’s House feature works by a number of Negev artists, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry and clothing made by locals — Jews and Bedouin, longtime Negev residents and more recent immigrants — all volunteer partners in the effort to bring art to Beersheba. Housed in a British Mandate-era building in the Old City, the “magic of the space” is its authenticity, says Carmela Ozen, the director, remarking on the artists’ use of the wealth of local materials in their pieces. The artists themselves are often in residence, managing the space and available to answer any question.
55 HaAvot Street, Old City, Beersheba
5) Designers in the City, or Meatzim BaIr, is one of Jerusalem’s latest collectives, and largest, with 20 artists under one well-located roof on Bezalel Street downtown. The creation of the Jerusalem Center for design, a non-profit organization dedicated to putting the holy city on the international design map, the center has partnered with the municipality, which subsidizes the artists’ rent on their cubicle studio spaces. The idea, says Boaz Bar-Hillel, the man behind the concept, is to help artists who are starting out, but don’t have funds for materials as well as rent.
With ceramicists, jewelers, industrial designers and Judaica craftspeople under one roof, there’s an industrious air about the collective. The artists often gather around the worktable at the center of each of the two floors, and are happy to discuss their craft with customers, taking a break from their muse to focus on retail. There’s also a cafe downstairs for a morning coffee or late afternoon beer.
7 Bezalel Street, Jerusalem