Revolution at the Top of Israel’s Schools of Design

Five new department heads take on new positions at Israel's top four academic schools of design.

With the opening of the 2013-2104 academic year at Israel’s schools of design, hundreds of new students will be taking their first step toward a professional career. They will be joined by five new department heads, who will also be taking their first step in their new positions at Israel’s top four academic schools of design: the WIZO Haifa Academy of Design and Education, the Shenkar School of Engineering and Design in Ramat Gan, the Holon Institute of Technology and the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem.

Each of these new department heads has vast experience in teaching and in his or her own area of specialization, be it textile design, fashion design, interior design, ceramic and glass design or visual communication. All of them are aware of the challenges that the global economic crisis and the digital age have created for the world of design. The results of their actions as department heads will become visible only after a few years; however, in the meantime, they are all keenly aware of the heavy responsibility resting on their shoulders – the training of Israel’s next generation of designers.

Katya Oicherman, Head of the Department of Textile Design at Shenkar

Taking over from: Designer Uri Tzaig

Katya Oicherman, 36, received her B.Des. in Textile Design from Shenkar in 2001. She also has an M.A. in Textiles from Goldsmiths College, University of London, and an M.A. in Modern Jewish Studies from the Center of Jewish Studies, School of Fine Art, University of Leeds. She is currently completing her research for a Ph.D. in Textiles at the School of Design, Goldsmiths College, University of London.

“It is important to improve and update the theoretical content of the studies in our department, and, in collaboration with the Department of Cultural Studies at Shenkar, we must create a unique theoretical program that can reflect developments in the areas of design theory and quality control in design and which can connect them substantively to textile in its various aspects – from production and technology to cultural ramifications. As an academic institution, it is vital that we aspire to a way of thinking that blends praxis and theory in a manner that can enable the creation of new experience and new knowledge.”

Tamara Yovel Jones, Head of the Jewelry and Fashion Design Department at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem

Taking over from: Goldsmith Einat Leader

Tamara Yovel Jones, 68, is one of Isra el’s leading fashion designers. In the 1980s, she moved to Italy and managed the design studio of Roberto Cavalli. She has served as a lecturer and senior supervisor at Shenkar and was head of Shenkar’s Department of Fashion Design between 2004 and 2006.

“Initially, I would like to develop and expand our basic studies and our box of fundamental tools. I attach great importance to the intensification of research on the craft tradition in the world in general and in Israel in particular in order to create in, and respond to, the place in which we are working, but also in order to enable design creation using the most up-to-date tools. The principal improvement in the field of gold crafting will be in the teaching of the language of fashion from the technical and historical standpoints in a more intense manner and at a higher level. In addition, there will be greater professionalism in the design of fashion accessories, shoes and handbags. The program of studies will focus on the artistic, conceptual and craft aspects of the language of fashion and on the merging of fashion design and art in artistic displays, in the creation of ‘art to wear,’ in haute couture and in theatrical costume design.”

Nissan Warschawski and Gal Gaon, Heads of the Department of Industrial Design at the Holon Institute of Technology

Taking over from: Architect Braha Kunda

Nissan Warschawski, 40, is a graduate of Bezalel’s Department of Architecture, with a Master’s degree in Land Studies from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. Gal Gaon, 46, is also a graduate of Bezalel’s Department of Architecture and is a graduate of the Recanati Executive MBA Program in Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Management – the Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration. 

Warschawski will serve for the first two years as head of the department and Gaon will be deputy head; then they will simply switch positions.

“We want to sharpen and reinforce the area of interior design and to strongly emphasize the differences between interior design and architecture. We are not trying to compete with schools of architecture, because interior design and architecture are two very different disciplines. This approach will express itself in the promotion of work on a smaller scale, in the optimization of materials and in the creation of environments and objects on a scale of 1:1. In addition, we are aiming at the strengthening of the feeling of the home versus the market and industry. We want to be a home from the professional, research and material standpoints for the community of interior designers – for students, lecturers and professionals in this field. At the same time, we want to be connected with local and international markets in various fields and to promote diversified forms of collaboration.”

Yaron Shin, Head of the Department of Visual Communication at the WIZO Haifa Academy of Design and Education

Taking over from: Graphic designer Prof. Terry Schreuer

Yaron Shin, 43, is a graduate of the Department of Visual Communication at the WIZO Haifa Academy of Design and Education and has a Master’s degree in Visual Communication from Utrecht University, as well as a certificate in applied engineering in computerization and control from the Technion.

“I am interested in unraveling the concept of ‘professionalism,’ especially for students in their last year of studies. In my opinion, the direction will be toward the cancellation of program tracks and toward enabling the students to build their own programs for the last year of studies. In addition, I want to see experimental connections between lecturers from totally different backgrounds. Finally, I am interested in reinforcing and significantly expanding the interactive and broadcast fields, both theoretically and practically, and in collaboration with external players, with an emphasis on culture and content creation.”

Eran Ehrlich, Head of the Ceramic and Glass Design Department, Bezalel

Taking over from: Designer Prof. Muli Ben Sassson

Eran Ehrlich, 42, has a B.F.A. from the Academie de Meuron in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He has a Master’s degree from Bar-Ilan University’s Program for Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies and is currently doing a doctorate in this program.

“As I understand the WIZO Haifa Academy, it is much more than a training institute. It must be a place where the freedom to experiment and check out things, to be daring and carry out research, is found in its sharpest and most stimulating milieu. Based on this orientation, the changes that will take place in the department in the near future will focus on the program of studies and on the development of infrastructures that can enable the development of teaching contexts and which can grant more room for independent study. In addition, I want students to be able to concentrate on, and to probe, things that are of personal interest to them, while, at the same time, I want to make knowledge more accessible through computer-assisted learning systems.”

Daniel Tchetchik