Need a new tchotchka?
Asaf Harari has one for you.
The 29-year-old graphic designer makes plastic figurines of famous Israeli historical figures. Think Golda Meir, David Ben-Gurion and Theodor Herzl.
Harari has had a lifelong love for figurines, having grown up with his mother’s collection assembled in the family’s breakfront in Yavneh.
Her taste ran more to Andy Warhol and Tintin. But Harari was always bothered by the fact that there was no pop culture representation of Israeli politics and history. In fact, the closest Israelis got to statues and figurines in their living rooms were their menorahs and candlesticks.
“I wanted to bring some spice into people’s cabinets,” said Harari.
His first figurine was Herzl, standing on a European-style balcony (as the father of Zionism was famously pictured doing in a 1901 photo from Basel). Harari posted the first models on eBay, and immediately sold them to a buyer in Toronto, who told him to stop selling on eBay.
“He gave me the idea that there’s an audience for this,” he said.
Now he sells the figurines of Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan and Menachem Begin — all designed in Israel and made in China — as well as posters and T-shirts online and in stores in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
The figurines cost $21 online — on Etsy and Harari’s website — including shipping and delivery, and around NIS 65 ($18) in Israeli stores.
He’s snagged older clients who feel an affinity toward the founders of the state, as well as people in their thirties and forties who want something “mischievous,” he said. “They put it in their cubicle at work.”
But those who keep it at home sometimes inadvertently end up introducing the state’s founders to the next generation. Harari heard from some customers that their toddlers’ first words are “Golda” or “Ben-Gurion.”
In fact, Harari’s most popular figurines are Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir, and it’s always a close match.
“Golda has a very special place in people’s hearts,” he said.
Harari’s planning on making Zeev Jabotinsky his next figurine, although some argue that the right-wing politician was too politically controversial to mold into plastic.
Harari isn’t bothered.
“There has to be a mix,” he said. “I’ll get to Rabin too, but that loss is still too fresh.”
Piece of History is also sold in 12 stores throughout Israel, including the Israel Museum store, Herzl Museum, Beit Hatfutsot, Tel Aviv’s Bauhaus Center, Made in TLV and Barbara Shaw stores in Jerusalem.