Designer finds whimsy in the quotidian: ‘If it’s funny, I make it’
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Tchotchkes for life

Designer finds whimsy in the quotidian: ‘If it’s funny, I make it’

Bezalel graduate Shaul Cohen uses 3D printing and healthy sense of humor to poke fun at life in Israel

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

One of Shaul Cohen's iconic snow globes, designed with a humorous twist (Courtesy Shaul Cohen)
One of Shaul Cohen's iconic snow globes, designed with a humorous twist (Courtesy Shaul Cohen)

Sometimes products are designed to solve an obvious problem.

For industrial designer Shaul Cohen, however, it’s often about making his audience laugh.

Consider his Pita Bandaid, a cutting device that slices an oval-shaped piece of pita to cover the hole that sometimes develops at the bottom of a stuffed falafel and lets tahini drip all over the person eating the sandwich.

Can’t live without that, right?

Creating a thumb-shaped pita patch for that annoying hole that develops at the bottom of a falafel (Courtesy Shaul Cohen)

Or Cohen’s plastic holder for Tropit drink pouches, which are sipped with a famously flimsy insertable straw.

Note: it’s only for the grape-flavored Tropit. (Only kind of kidding.)

Shaul Cohen ‘built a wall’ for his Tropit drinks (Courtesy Shaul Cohen)

There’s also an inflatable beret, useful for soldiers who keep their berets tucked under their epaulets and often need a pillow for resting their heads on long bus rides.

“The ideas just come to me,” said Cohen, who studied industrial design at Bezalel Academy for Arts and Design. “They’re always about finding the humor in day-to-day life in Israel.”

The inflatable beret that offers tired soldiers a pillow to nap on (Courtesy Shaul Cohen)

The moment Cohen has an idea, he sketches it and asks his friends if it’s funny.

“I’m like a stand-up comedian,” he said. “If they think it’s funny, I make it.”

The 38-year-old designer makes most of his products with a 3D printer, and has access to several at his 3D Factory store in Tel Aviv. But these particular items are not for sale, they’re made just for laughs.

Cohen’s latest project, titled “Life in a Snow Bubble,” is a collection of snow globes containing miniaturized copies of familiar Israeli structures. But don’t expect the famous ones, such as the Western Wall or Masada.

Instead, there’s a bright blue-and-orange Lotto kiosk, a drab gray concrete bus stop, derelict Tel Aviv Bauhaus buildings undergoing renovations, an army watchtower covered with graffiti and a wooden shingled lifeguard tower, each ensconced in the familiar clear plastic globes.

“The globes themselves are an iconic item … but this time they’re letting us take a glance at something much less iconic,” said Cohen.

The structures were made with 3D printers, and then painted and detailed by Cohen.

A guard tower (left) and a familiar lifeguard station (right) are two of the familiar icons captured by industrial designer Shaul Cohen (Courtesy Shaul Cohen)

The set of snow globes was first shown during a design week event in Berlin, where a group of Bezalel graduates were asked to present their works. Cohen used the theme of Bauhaus design and architecture, given that the design ethos was first founded in Germany.

“They get it like we do,” he said.

The snow globes are now part of the “To The Glory: Local Souvenirs” exhibit at Tel Aviv’s Issachar and Yehudit Benyamini Contemporary Ceramics Center in south Tel Aviv.

“Life in a Snow Bubble” is on display at the Issachar and Yehudit Benyamini Contemporary Ceramics Center in south Tel Aviv until December 28, 2019. All have been sold, but Cohen can make snow globes to order at the 3D Factory, 65 Salame, in Florentin. Just pick your icon.

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