Tabling a Solution

Series of Seven Table Designs Inspired by the Historic City of Jerusalem

Award-winning Israeli designer Ezri Tarazi has exhibited all over the world including at MOMA in New York and at the Triennale di Milano. But his latest project is a little closer to home. It features seven unique table designs each reflecting a different element of Jerusalem’s culture, architecture or history. “It’s in my ‘DNA’, since my parents and my whole family were born in Jerusalem,” says Ezri.

“On one hand it is a celebration of Jerusalem’s diversity and pluralism, the authentic material culture and uniqueness. The table is a sharing object that needs multiple users,” he explains. “On the other hand it is a critique of the way each religion and political party tries to own it and take over, and warn the world that this is a very dangerous prospect to the city”.

Each design utilises different materials, each authentic in their own way. For instance, Dressed Stone is cut from a solid block of Jerusalem Stone – a form of limestone associated with the city’s ancient architecture. Meanwhile, Divided City is made up of a beautiful patchwork of materials found in Jerusalem’s Old City, arranged in the shapes of its districts. The table splits in half with a mechanism to serve food on, but this division ruins the aesthetic appeal of the city when it is whole.

We dug a little deeper to see what else we could discover:

The Plus: What was the motivation for the series?
Ezri Tarazi: 10 year ago I created the ‘New-Baghdad’ table, which became a well known prophecy of what would become of the fragmented Iraq. The motivation of this series was coming from the concern that Jerusalem is going in the same direction as one of the most important places for the three religions. The diversity of the old city of Jerusalem should be an important symbol of pluralism and harmony, instead of a source of conflict.

TP: Other than its religious significance, what makes Jerusalem such a special place?
ET: Jerusalem is made up of many layers of kingdoms and empires that left in its ground traces of historical artifacts and architecture, material culture and even food culture. If you go in the streets of the old city the chances are that you will see people from all over the world that are living inside it, creating an amazing mosaic of its intensity and culture.

TP: Working with such an involved theme is unusual for a designer, what appeals to you about it?
ET: Instead of making things that look ‘modern’ and you cannot distinguish who the designer is, I am keen to create a design language that no other designer can make, by using the authentic materials, and themes that are unique to my history. As a designer I always want to say something meaningful, and I see myself as a prophet that uses design to show the future, both its promise and its dangers.

TP: How has it been received so far?
ET: In the project has received huge publicity, and created a wave of media impact and debate. Tonight it is going to be seen in the news of channel 10 and yesterday I was on the front page of the major design magazine. Every day I get a few emails from people who visited the show and got moved and excited.

TP: Are you working on anything else currently?
ET: I am working on a new series of tables made of the shapes of national borders in Europe, it’s still in the early stages.