I met Gal Tel Vardi about fifteen years ago when I spent a semester as a visiting lecturer at Shenkar College of Design. Gal (“Wave” in Hebrew) was the head of the advanced fabrication lab, overseeing (among other things) the laser cutters, the rapid prototyping, and the CNC machines that helped our students in executing their prototype ideas faster and more accurately.
My mission as a lecturer for furniture design and woodworking was to teach our students how to master “old world” woodworking tools and techniques, from the safe use of the band saws to the proper handling of a chisel. Gal, on the other hand, was positioned at the other end of the technology spectrum, dealing with screens, computer programs, and algorithms. So when I visited his lab for the first time I anticipated meeting a modernist tech geek who does not know or care, about traditional woodworking, let alone the history of furniture design. But boy, I was wrong.
Over our first conversion, I learned that Gal was a graduate of a few prestigious furniture making certificate programs (in France and Switzerland) and that he was fortunate enough to apprentice under the mentorship of some acclaimed makers. His training included marquetry, veneer work, traditional joinery, and carcass design, plus relief carving and wood conservation technique. The person that I met was a true renaissance man who harbored a sea of knowledge that span from ancient woodworking to the most recent achievements of our field.
Gal is a disciple of the European woodworking tradition. His training included marquetry, veneer work, traditional joinery, and carcass design, plus relief carving and wood conservation technique.
After returning to Israel from Europe he dedicated his time to furniture restoration, teaching and lecturing on design and furniture history, and ultimately establishing the rapid prototyping lab at Shenkar.
Like most Israelis, he lives in a small apartment. His apartment building is on the Tel Aviv Mediterranian frontier, just a few hundred yards from the waves. To be as close as possible to his work he decided that his apartment can also serve as his studio and surfing board depository (Gal is an avid surfer). Call it a design lab, a home studio, or an Urban Woodshop, Gal’s apartment is a place that allows him to generate his dreams and ideas and create small to medium size furniture and more.
Below, you can see and read about his Urban Woodshop, his projects, and the way he negotiates life and work in the same space. Gal’s special solution might not work for everyone but if you can’t justify renting a dedicated studio space you should definitely pick up some ideas from this talented Israeli artist.