Israeliana: objects and identity

Total Hours
Semester A
Course Day
Time 10:30 - 12:00

With the establishment of Israel as a state, the first design office called IPDO (Israel Product Design Office) was founded. The firm was set up by the Americans as part of the Marshall Plan to help develop the local industry. In line with the modernist ideas that were common at the time in Europe and the United States, the design created in this office emphasized functionality and presented an international identity. Other daily local products (dolls, utensils, board games, posters) alongside institutional products (postage stamps, coins and medals) that were created during these years filled many Israeli homes. They reflect lifestyle, historical events and cultural trends during the Zionist establishment in Israel. During these years it seems that the artists and designers were searching for a local style and identity that draws from the local climate and colors, biblical myths and Zionist ethos. This search changed in 1967 with the conquest of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem and the encounter with local Arab style and crafts. This style, which was perceived during those years as "authentic", supported the new Israeli desire to integrate in the Middle East and created a new local visual language in Israeli design. This style changed again in the 1980s with the diversity of Israeli society and globalization. As part of globalization, the term "Israeliana" originated, derived from the American term "Americana" and referred to designed products identified with the State of Israel. Despite the innocence that emerges from these products they are often imbued with political agenda.


The lesson presents key moments in local design and will dwell on these questions: How were the objects of collective identity in Israel formed and crystallized? What kind of Israeli identity do the products represent? How did the objects create the Israeli identity and who was behind the production of this identity? The lesson will also present the collecting practice of Israeliana products from a critical perspective.