Saturday 18 May 2013



When I first discovered Tesler + Mendelovitch a few weeks ago, my reaction was pretty simple: wow. I'd never seen anything like it. The design of their pieces is so clean, modern, and well, just exquisite. That's why I chose them to be the very first in my new series of featured sellers.

Firstly, thank you so much for being the first feature on A Cut Above The Retsy! I'm really excited to hear about you and your business.

Who are Tesler + Mendelovtich and where are you from?

We (Orli Tesler and Itamar Mendelovitch) are a textile team who research and develop new concepts and materials. As a creative design team, we produce new materials to create original products and applications that include furniture, apparel, industry and art. Our home and studio is in south Tel-Aviv, an area of the Israeli city that is both industrial and residential, and is the city's most ethnically diverse neighbourhood. We’ve lived and worked here for five years now and wouldn’t live anywhere else. We enjoy living amongst the large community of artists who live and work around us. Here, the best galleries in the city are situated side by side with housing and industrial buildings. In our area, we’re surrounded by the diversity of historic buildings and Bauhaus, coupled with new industrial spaces and outdoor markets – a melting pot of culture, commerce and eclectic architecture.

How did this creative partnership come about?

We met at school and became good friends from the first week. From the start, we've held polarising design philosophies. Itamar is very methodical and precise, while I have always worked more impulsively, letting the design process take care of itself. After realising that these opposites worked well together, we quickly began collaborating on different projects. At school, we studied classic textile techniques, such as weaving and screen-printing, and took a lot of classes in Fibre and Material Science because we really wanted as much as possible to deepen our understanding of textile at a microscopic level. Our goal is to take different fabrics and materials and turn them on their head by changing their core trait or using them for a purpose that hasn’t been done before. Soon after graduating, we opened our own studio and have been researching and developing different textiles and products ever since.

What has the reaction been like to your work so far?

We are fortunate in having received a lot of support – this is something we very much appreciate. It can be difficult trying to create something new and you always have this fear that people won’t get what you’re trying to do, but it’s been the complete opposite and that just makes all the hard work so worth it. It truly is a privilege to love what you do and we try never to take that for granted.

Personally, I think your items are genuinely stunning and so unique. Where do you get your creative eye from?

Thank you so much. I think that curiosity is a good beginning for creativity. The more you learn, the more tools you have to work with. We also learn as we go. Our first trials are a mess, but we keep at it until we get results that we're satisfied with.

Why work with wood?

Wood is an amazingly warm, organic material that makes you feel good and connects the mind and body with nature. We believe that good design should feel almost as an extension of the human body, which is something that organic materials provide in most cases. When you work with such an incredible material such as wood you already have accomplished 50% of your goal.

You already make fashion accessories and furniture; any plans to expand your range?

At the moment, we’re working with carbon fibre and other smart cloths, developing new weaving techniques and more furniture. Our projects are what we like to call "slow cooked" because we take the time to thoroughly research what we do and develop our designs with care. We have new wearable wood items ready and are planning on releasing them gradually. We’d like each piece to become established before we show new projects. Because we are very adamant about not being trend-dependent, we’re always looking to create items that withstand the test of time.

Considering the talent you've shown so far, it's safe to say there's huge potential for your brand. Where to from here?

We hope to continue to develop our ongoing projects and are very interested in R&D. Our aim is to establish a “think tank”; a prototype development studio to not only support our own work, but that of other companies as well. We love prototyping and experimenting, so hopefully one day soon we’ll establish our own design laboratory.

What do you do when you're not working?

When the weather is cool we like to roam the city on foot. As small as Tel-Aviv is, we still sometimes find some new street or building that we haven’t seen before. We would love to take the time to travel abroad for a couple of months and just go exploring!

For those of us who know next to nothing about Tel-Aviv, there seem to be a lot of great Etsy shops based there. What do you think makes it such a breeding ground for creativity?

That’s a good question. Tel-Aviv is so diverse! Just like other "new" countries like Australia and the US, immigration from many lands has resulted in an eclectic mix of people. Here, it’s a quirky combination of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and European cultures that all together somehow just "works". But political events are a fact of life here so there are times when day-to-day life can be interrupted, and this produces a sort of “living on the edge” mentality that encourages people to “get on with it” and live for today. Living in an extreme political climate can be very stimulating in a weird way. Also, I think we thrive here on a certain level of independent thinking – it’s a society that values innovation and there’s a high level of tolerance for the freedom to create. The downside of course, is living under some form of threat to your everyday life. I guess it brings a sense of carpe diem. It makes us a bit neurotic, edgy and hot-tempered, which, at the end of the day, helps us block out the regional conflict surrounding us.

Tel-Aviv's best-kept secret?

This city is such an open book that we can’t think of something that we appreciate that isn’t known of, but I can tell you that the food here is awesome: this city lives on its stomach! We are in the midst of a culinary boom – the markets are superb and really inspire great cooking, as do street eateries and even high-end restaurants. Everything is fresh, and has that eclectic mix of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and European cuisine.

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