The personal archive of the professional partners and married couple Arthur Goldreich (1929–2011), artist, architect, freedom fighter, and teacher, and Tamar de Shalit (1932–2009), interior designer, has been entrusted in recent years to the Israel Architecture Archive. The collection, selected parts of which are presented here in their archival drawers, includes tens of thousands of items documenting their work. This is an unusual personal collection that spans a variety of mediums, a twofold oeuvre that runs the gamut between the public and private, the political and personal, communal kibbutz projects and entrepreneurial ones, intellect and craftsmanship, and international precedents and ancient local inspirations. The decentralized nature of the collection has enabled, and even dictated, a broad thematic perspective that is not necessarily hierarchic, chronological, or typological.
South African-born Goldreich started out as a painter, designer, and persecuted political activist who protested against Apartheid in his country. In 1963 he was detained. His escape from prison, accompanied by extensive media coverage, was followed by emigration to Israel, where he continued his anti-Apartheid efforts. Shortly thereafter, Goldreich became active in some key Israeli arenas responsible for developing a new, contemporary language of interior design. He held solo exhibitions of his artwork, engaged in interior design, and made a name for himself as a stage-set and costume designer. In the second half of the 1960s, he co-founded the Department of Environmental And Industrial Design – which was to become the Department of Architecture – at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem, where he was a teacher and department head until the mid-1990s. He was one of the most influential educational figures in his field, and one of the first to integrate critical and political discourse into the design curriculum of teaching establishments in the country. Yet despite teaching generations of students, very little is known about the impressive scope of his projects.
De Shalit was born in Israel to a family of pioneers, who were among Herzliya’s founders. She studied art and design in 1950s London. On her return to Israel, she took part in the interior design for several government projects, including the design of the courtroom for the 1961 Eichmann trial in Jerusalem, and the design of office spaces for ministers and senior members of government and the Israel Defense Forces. Later on, as an independent interior designer, she collaborated with local designers and architects who gave form to local Modernism and Brutalism. She designed the interiors of many public buildings in cities and kibbutzim, hotels, and private dwellings. De Shalit’s work is a reflection of the endeavor of her generation of local architects and designers to formulate, during Israel’s first decades, local Modernism and the unique aesthetic features of the local official and public spheres, high-end residential and work spaces, and Israel’s cultures of recreation, convalescence, and memorialization. Her holistic approach, always combining interior with furniture and textile design, represents a missing chapter in the history-in-the-making of interior design in Israel, where she stands alongside the designers who laid the foundations for Israeli aesthetics.
The exhibition showcases the extensive practice of this couple who, from the 1950s through the 1990s, pursued, together and apart, design and architecture; graphic and industrial design; textile, jewelry, and fashion design; stage-set and costume design for the theater; drawing, painting, illustration, and photography. At the same time, they continued to teach, research, and write, and engaged in political, public, and philanthropic work. One of their projects was the interior design of the Herzliya Museum and the adjacent Beit Yad Labanim memorial center. These interior-design plans are on display in the exhibition, as well as a reconstructed sitting area of their design which they installed at Beit Yad Labanim, bringing Goldreich and de Shalit back to this locale. Equally, the drawers recount the central role they played in the history of the enterprise to create local design.