Through the Eyes of a Designer: Jerusalem

A commonly sung refrain in Jerusalem is Yerushalayim Shel Zahav, which means “Jerusalem of Gold.”   If there is one common thread of the aesthetics of Jerusalem, it is that golden quality.   The bright sunshine on ancient limestone buildings provides a literal and figurative feeling of warmth everywhere you turn. If you’re looking for interior design ideas that will bring warmth into your home, Jersualem is a fantastic place to get inspiration.

 

 1. A feast of colors in Jewelry and Textiles

Whether at the Arab Shuk or along the wider streets of Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter, jewelry and textiles are displayed with abundance and an abundance of color.   The colors call to mind spicy middle eastern food and glow beneath the bright blue sunny skies.

2. A feast of colors in the produce

Mahane Yehuda Market in Jersualem is also known as the Jewish Shuk.   So what is a Shuk? It’s an open air market (though there is a tent-covering above) where the community gathers to buy fresh food, spices, and other goods. All is displayed with rich abundance, and I personally came home with a giant suitcase filled with spices and dried fruit.   My acquisitions included dried clementine, dried etrog, dried starfruit, zatar, hawayej, a Yemenite spice blend that is often used in chicken soup, and a couple of spice blends for seasoning rice.   The offerings go on and on, from breads, baklava, a stand that features at least 30 flavors of halava, wine, fish and fruit. We were there on a Friday afternoon, when Jews are preparing for Shabbat, and the Shuk was packed with people….all part of the colorful experience.

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3. Patina on the buildings

Patina is a thin layer that typically forms over time on some metals due to oxidization.   Lots of this to be seen in such an ancient city as Jerusalem, Israel.   I’m using the term patina loosely here to conjure up the feeling that painted metal has aged, and that actually adds more beauty than if it were sparkly and new.   These colors also suggest pleasant complements to stone if you’re trying to establish a color palette in your own home that plays off of a stone element, such as a fireplace.

 

4. Umbrellas in the sky

It NEVER rains in Israel in the summer.   Yet these umbrellas spanning the area over Yoel Salomon Pedestrian Mall serve another purpose – to infuse the street life with color and a sense of place.   I thought this was a permanent and one-of-a-kind gesture when I was in Jersualem, but then I was travelling later in the summer and stopped for lunch in Littleton, New Hampshire and saw another umbrella street installation.   It turns out the umbrella displays are part of the “Umbrella Street” movement, in which installations around of these “umbrella streets” around the world symbolize the return of visitors to the open and inviting urban space.   The umbrellas will only continue to be on display in Jersualem until October 5th, 2015.

Yoel Salomon Street, Jersualem

Yoel Salomon Street, Jersualem


Littleton, New Hampshire

Littleton, New Hampshire

5. Lifeline for the Old (http://www.lifeline.org.il/index_en.php)

Lifeline for the old (Yad LaKashish) is a non-profit organization empowering and supporting nearly 300 elderly Jerusalem residents on a daily basis.   The elderly artisans create beautiful objects of art (Judaica and other objects as well) in a community workshop, are provided with hot meals, dental care, and most importantly, a sense of purpose.   Shown here a tsedakah boxes (for collecting charity), jewelry, and a grogger (used during Purim celebrations).   I personally came home with a red beaded necklace that looks like pomegranates, sukkah decorations, hand painted greeting cards, and a couple of scarves.   It is an inspiring place to visit, both in terms of getting artistic ideas and as a model of how to provide opportunities to age with dignity, grace, and creative expression.

To read an inspiring profile of one of the artisans (with a namesake close to my heart, and his name, Lev, actually means heart in Hebrew), click here.

I hope you have enjoyed my journey through Isreal and got a glimpse of all the inspiration I was able to soak up. Have a great travel story that inspired your interior design? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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