Two Israeli designers have been in Britain this week to represent their country at the first ever London Design Biennale.
The major new cultural event opens at Somerset House today, bringing together acclaimed designers from 37 countries.
Both Yaniv Kadosh and Sharona Merlin are graduates of the Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art in Ramat Gan, which was chosen to represent Israel at the event featuring installations from the world’s top museums and design organisations.
Like the rest of the designers, the pair had to submit work in response to the theme ‘Utopia by Design’.
Shenkar's exhibition is designed to reflect the concern of the Israeli design community with social and environmental issues, using “inventiveness and a strong ability for conceptual design” to solve global problems.
Israel’s presentation, curated by Tami Warshavski and Hila Shaltieli of Shenkar, highlights two home-grown projects with a social focus.
“We believed that human-¬centred design should be at the heart of our exhibition,” they said.
Yaniv Kadosh’s Aid-Drop, a first-aid distribution for disaster areas, and Sharona Merlin’s Louder, a set of speakers for the deaf, are strong examples of design and technology arising from multi-disciplinary research.
Mr Kadosh, 36, graduated from Shenkar in 2011. Hailing from the small village of Luzit, he is now a full-time designer with a start-up company.
He told the JC: “The whole event is really exciting. We have met people from all over the world that we wouldn’t otherwise meet, like Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. It’s amazing.”
Aid-Drop employs parachutes to drop 3kg cartons of first-aid supply over disaster zones, covering wide and potentially remote places until further essentials can be delivered by road.
Louder is a pair of speakers for the deaf and hard of hearing that translate sounds into visual textures and floor vibrations that can be felt through the feet.
Ms Merlin, 33, has her own design studio in Tel Aviv. She said: “I love London – it’s one of my favourite cities in the world, so representing Israel here is a real privilege.
“The biennale presents concepts from all over the world. It’s very interesting to see other points of view.”
Neither of the designers have featured in a show of this size before.
“We are still a bit overwhelmed,” said Mr Kadosh. “I think it will take a few days to understand it all.”