Picture of David Zylbermann

David Zylbermann

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Contemplating Aliyah? Downsize with Style

So, it’s goodbye New York, hello Israel. There’s nothing quite like that Aliya feeling of excitement tinged with “am I absolutely insane?”. The massive number of concerns, effort involved, and time taken to move across the globe can be daunting. The logistics alone can give you sleepless nights.

David Zylbermann, a prominent Jerusalem-based Interior Designer and Planner, understands the challenges of adapting to a new home, often smaller than the one left behind.

“It’s a fact that many people moving to Israel, and particularly Jerusalem, have to deal with living in a much smaller space. That’s not to say that all Israeli apartments are small. I’ve designed many large spaces in the Jerusalem area, but the real challenge is to take a small and poorly structured space, and turn it into a functional and beautiful apartment.”

With over 30 years of experience in Architecture and Design, Paris-born David has a wealth of design experience and has, amongst his many talents, perfected the art of taking small, often badly designed spaces, and transforming them into his trademark Jerusalem style.

“I was raised with a mix of European culture and Jewish tradition”, David explains. “I’ve inherited a natural instinct when it comes to ‘feeling’ living space and the people who live there. I got this from my grandmother. Moving to Israel from North America, Australia, or Europe, people are often surprised by the size of the apartments here.

This isn’t really a problem because with even the simplest structural changes, a space can turned into something magical and much more functional. This is where I come in.”
David focuses on 3 main aspects when working with clients from overseas who have made their homes in Jerusalem or other areas; minor structural changes to optimize the functionality of the space, upcycling and reuse of furniture that is precious to the client and refining the personalized style of the client.

“If you’ve moved from a 2,000 sq. ft. house in a suburb of New York, a 100 sqm older apartment in Jerusalem can seem like a challenge. My first task is to consider the client’s new lifestyle, their day-to-day use of the space, and to adapt their new home to this. These changes don’t have to be massive, simply removing a wall here, or reconfiguring the common spaces, can make a huge difference. Storage is often a prime concern, but this can be solved by thinking out of the box and making furniture multi-purpose. That sofa in the living room can provide considerable storage underneath, and look amazing.”

What furniture to bring and what to leave behind is often an Aliya dilemma. Precious and sentimental pieces of furniture brought to Israel can seem out of place in their new environment. David’s solution for this is creative.

“One of my clients, a successful dentist from Toronto, brought a large medical equipment storage unit that he had used for years and was very sentimental to him. It was beautiful but seemed totally out of place in his Rehavia apartment. By changing the glass doors, replacing the shelves, and adding new handles on the drawers, the unit became a stunning and functional centerpiece for his books and Judaica.”

David’s intuition plays a big role in providing the best for his clients. His uncanny knack for identifying themes, life experiences, and tastes of his clients, go a long way to in his designs.

“The furniture and personal belongings people bring with them aren’t just a collection of things. They represent life, a history, a choice, and they speak volumes. As a designer, I look at these pieces, understand what they mean, and try to bring the clients’ story into the design. Starting a new life in Israel doesn’t necessarily mean throwing out the old and replacing it with the new in a cramped apartment. The art is to take the old and shape it together with the new to reflect a new and different life in Israel.”

There aren’t many designers with Parisienne flair and a Jerusalem soul. David Zylbermann is just that perfect combination.

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