Avichai Tadmor

Avichai Tadmor did not really plan to become an industrial designer. Like many others, he liked to assemble and reassemble stuff as child, but in the army he served as a photographer and later studied acting. He was first enthused by industrial design during a visit to New York, where Panton chairs and other products impressed him with their combination of the practical and the aesthetic.
Avichai Tadmor


Multidimensional design

That New York visit led Tadmor to industrial design studies at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, where his favourite courses were those that involved graphic design. These provided him, he says, with a different platform not only in terms of dimensions (two instead of three) but also in terms of pace: whereas two-dimensional design is faster and takes only days from sketch to product, three-dimensional design is a matter of months; and architectural design – with which he is also familiar, as a former owner of an architectural and interior design imaging studio – takes years to materialize.

Tadmor likes the immense diversity of industrial design, ranging from life-saving products to fun, humorous stuff. After graduating in 2002 he worked for several agencies designing commercial products. It was an interesting step back from Bezalel, where form followed function, to the world of mass consumption where form was at the centre. Today he tries to convey his passion for the field as a design teacher: "working with student is one of my greatest joys, it provides a break from designing in front of a computer screen". 

First products with Monkey Business

Tadmor met MB's Oded Friedland in 2009 through a mutual friend from school, and pitched him several ideas for products he had while at school. Tadmor's first product with Monkey Business was the NO sign, an idea that emerged during a student exchange semester in Holland in his third year in Bezalel. It was inspired by the numerous prohibition signs he encountered when entering churches (no talking, no dogs, no chips…). He liked the idea of interchanging the things one does not like around, or wants to ban. Ironically enough, this idea finally transformed into a useful desktop holder for things one often does use.

MB's and Tadmor's second successful collaboration was Geppetto, the pencil sharpener. It was inspired by a pasta container cover that was designed as a clown's nose. Thinking about famous noses, his mind immediately turned to Pinocchio. After several initial sketches he came up with the idea of a swinging ball: "The swinging movement generates communication with people," he says, "they like Geppetto because he gives them feedback, it is not just an inanimate object." He tested the idea successfully on a Styrofoam ball with several coins attached to its bottom as weight, and realized it was time to breathe life into the small creature.

Geppetto was initially meant to be made out of wood, but this proved too expensive and complex and plastic was preferred instead. Its package, though, still retains some of its original design, which consisted of a paper bag where Geppetto sat on a pile of sawdust, in a tribute to the old fairy-tale woodcarver.

The first samples came back from the factory with slightly faulty design, copied from an incomplete sketch, so that Avichai and Oded had to make their corrections on the model itself and send it back to China. There were also assembly problems that forced them to dump a large number of samples.

The process was far from simple or easy, yet Avichai says that there is nothing more exciting than holding the first model of a product he designed: "That is the moment when you realise that you actually created something out of nothing, that your sketches have become a tangible object. It is nice to see your product in the store, but receiving that first model is the most rewarding moment – in many ways similar to birth. It is the peak of the purely creative process; what comes afterwards mainly concerns your ego." Tadmor has a soft spot for Geppetto, a highly graphic product, and is content that they could make it reasonably-priced, allowing Geppetto a place on every desktop.

Something fishy under that pot

Work on the Red Fish trivet started when Tadmor was looking for a way to create a folding trivet that would not require much space. His first sketch was for a magnetic product that would stick patiently to its place on the fridge until called into action.

Just then, in an exhibition of old photographs depicting everyday life in Tel Aviv of the 1930's, He came across the photo of a fisherman carrying on his shoulder a fishing wire with his daily catch of fresh fish. Tadmor started experimenting with fish of various shapes and colours, looking for the best design in terms of both usability and aesthetics. The final design was inspired by the visual language of another MB product, Amidov's Boris mobile phone holder

The oversized sharpener

Karoto, Tadmor's biggest commercial success to date, started off as an extension to Geppetto. Avichai envisioned a snowman-shaped sharpener, whose carrot-like nose would be an eraser. Oded Friedland then came up with the idea to make it an actual carrot; Tadmor thought it could be an actual lifelike sharpener. The blown-up sharpener (and peeler) proved a huge success already when shown to distributors: "People love to hold it, they like the change of proportion – it's like being Alice in Wonderland". The final product maintained the yellow colour of Tadmor's pencil sharpener used to test the idea; the black version was added later following demand from distributors.

Cabina - Peg holder

The initial idea for Cabina was to design laundry pegs, But after some research I realized that there are many designed pegs out there, and that led me to design an accessory for pegs storage.

The inspiration for the cable car came from the observation that the container requires a movement element, so as to keep the pegs close to the ‘next’ item along the clothes line.

The main design challenge was to find the correct balance between function, form and size.

The Italian Job

Avichai’s next 2 products for Monkey Business were pasta influenced cooking accessories - farfalloni and penneli - conceived while making homemade pasta.

Farfalloni - pot grips

Farfalle shaped silicone grips for handling hot pots and other hot handles. Initially the grips resembled a set of clips and the process saw Tadmor develop a large-scale version that functioned as a bag clip. Following this, the item was made even larger and the material changed to rubber – in order for it to turn into a pot grip.

Penneli - Garlic peeler

The ‘penneli’ is a silicone tube resembling a large piece of penne and functions  as a miraculous garlic peeler. Peels garlic cloves quickly and easily by rolling them in the tube.

The packaging for both products was influenced by traditional italian pasta packs.

The Cucumbo - Spiral slicer

Since designing the karoto, carrot peeler and sharpener, Avichai has been working in the kitchen cutting and slicing creative new vegetable shapes. while utilizing various kitchen tools to make spiral shapes he developed a bolt-shaped accessory that can be turned around vegetables in the same way you would use a screw.

The slicer enables you to assemble the thin cuts into different spiral formations, mixing up the regular presentation of daily food items.

Catering to the emotional need

Tadmor says that the products he and others design are no longer triggered by actual, physical need, but rather an emotional and aesthetic one: "We have all the products that we need nowadays. We seek to design products that generate a sense of excitement, originality, playfulness and humor."

His work on a new product, he says, starts with days of just collecting images, visual ideas: "Thinking comes afterwards," he says, "I am still trying to understand how it works, how I come up with an idea, the way I now understand the process that led to my previous designs."

The success of Karoto led Avichai to focus on kitchenware. He found many old "food design" products in his parents' kitchen that will probably inspire some of his next products: "In the past only professional chefs used such products, but now there's more public demand for them".

The last two years with Monkey Business made Tadmor more aware of the production process and its requirements, which he now takes into consideration already in the planning process. It naturally leads to design which is less naïve, he says, but on the other hand – it allows him to see more of his original ideas come to life.