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Design and Lifestyle

Design & Lifestyle

Semiramis Hotel; By Karim Rashid

June 4, 2014

Since I first came across the NHOW Hotel in Berlin, designed by Karim Rashid, I keep looking for more hotels and projects he designs. I was lucky enough to meet Karim a few times in person; Twice in New York, (both in his old and new studios) and once in Tel Aviv, where he is currently designing a new hotel, planned to be opened in October. While I am hoping and planning to shoot the next hotel in Tel Aviv, I had the opportunity to stay it one of the first hotels he designed. The Semiramis Hotel located in one of the most affluent and leafy suburb in Athens, called Kifissia. I wish I had more time to stay in Kifissia and at Semiramis but I was on my way to Milos for a shoot. It is such a magical area that one of my close friends described it: ‘If I ever want to disappear for a little bit, I can easily go to Kifissia’. 

I arrived at the hotel on a Sunday afternoon after a long flight from New York in which I didn’t really have the chance to sleep. Regardless, I was anxious to walk around the colorful hotel and discover some of Karim’s signature designs and style.

When the description of the hotel goes like this..“Semiramis is what happens when you give a hot designer total control”…I need to see it in my own eyes and cameras

So let’s start with the Pool:

As a long time swimmer, I do tend to check out the swimming pools first when I check in to hotels. Even though the Semiramis pool is not a lap one, it was quite hard to ignore it. The pool is shaped in a fluid curved shape, typical to Karim Rashid’s style and colored in shades of turquoise and neon green. To complement Karim chose white sun-beds with pinkish color umbrellas, dotted with white. To be honest, I couldn’t stop taking pictures of this pool. I tried to cover every angle. A mosaic dark blue fountain adds a decadent touch and border between the pool area and the area around the hotel.

The Facade:

Only by seeing the colors of the Sun terraces (Lime Green) I knew I arrived at one of Karim’s playgrounds. The facade is totally different to the Greek typical style, and this is what I actually love about Karim’s style. His designs are ALWAYS extraordinary. To enter the lobby I had to walk through a glowing pink glass cube and to be warmly welcomed by one of the staff, offering me a glass of sparkling water.

The YES Lobby:

As Semiramis is part of the YES! Hotels group, the Artwork ‘YES’ by Tim Noble and Sue Webster is definitely a great visual welcoming sign. The affirmative “YE$” sign presents the familiar dollar symbol in a bright display of shimmering lights flickering on and off before the viewer. I enjoyed watching this sign when I got back to Semiramis after an evening stroll in Kifissia. On a bright Pink wall the Artwork ‘VBGDW’ by Vanessa Beecroft is also a welcoming gesture. ‘VBGDW’ is a photo of Vanessa Beecroft’s wedding party in Portofino in September 2000. (Rumors say she is divorced now). The dark blue Wavelength Sofas designed by Karim, gave me a feeling as being under waves in the ocean.

The Bar and Dining Area: 

I just LOVE this bar and dining area. I felt as I was walking in one of the wings of a contemporary modern museum. And no wonder. Dakis Joannou, the hardworking owner of Yes! Hotels, is one of the foremost collectors of contemporary European art in Greece, and therefore is surrounding himself with objects that inspire him, from Art, Design and Architecture. I could spot two Artworks by Spencer Tunick, (The ‘New Vienna’ and ‘Krystl’) and the ‘Shutup’ Artwork by Michael Bevilacqua right above the seating area. On a Pink color carpet, Karim furnished the dining area with his signature Swing Chairs in addition to a lively lighting concept, especially commissioned from Focus Lighting in New York, under the direction of principal designer Paul Gregory. I love the Orange colored glass wall, which made a perfect dividing wall between the Bar and the Dining area. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really dine at Semiramis restaurant, as it was closed due to a private event. Well, it is a reason for me to go back…


Semiramis has three types of rooms; Standard rooms, 20 meters squared rooms overlooking the park of Kefalari. Queen bed and above bed- lighted murals offers a pop of color to the all-white feeling of tranquility of the room. The Superior rooms, 25 meters squared are overlooking either to the park or the great pool. (I was lucky enough to overlook the beautiful pool) and then there are The Pool Bungalows, 25 square meters, built as separate units alongside the pool and each bungalow has a King size bed  and a private small garden. I have stayed in one of the Superiors rooms overlooking the pool. I loved having a great afternoon light reflecting and glittering on my lime green terrace and watching the sunset over the hills around Kifissia. The hotel has its own sense of humor, which reflects well in the design; The rooms, for instance, don’t have numbers, but every floor has a color and each room has an icon. To find my room, I had to spot the icon across the hallway. Instead of the typical boring ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs, hanging on the door knobs, Karim decided to place electronic message boards at every room entrance, which guests can personalize from their in-room keyboards.

I’m really looking forward to see the next hotel designed by Karim Rashid, Sir Benjamin Hotel, coming soon in Tel Aviv.



Design & Lifestyle

Karen Shavit’s Apt in Design Sponge

January 24, 2014

Few posts ago I wrote about The Life and Style of Karen Shavit, an entrepreneur and an inspiring Israeli woman, who I am happy to call a friend.

When I first visited Karen few months ago, it was when she just moved in to her new house in Emek Izrael, so I could only take pictures of her lovely kitchen. I told her that the moment she is settled, I would come again to shoot her entire house. I also promised her it would look great in Design Sponge, one if not the most leading Design and Lifestyle blogs. So when the opportunity arrived, I took a train to the North of Israel to visit Karen and spend some quality time with her. When I got in her house, it felt like Welcome to Wonder and Vintage Land. See for yourself.

I was so excited when Karen’s home was well received by Design Sponge’s readers. You can see and read more about Karen’s and her design choices, in Design Sponge Sneak Peek here.

Thank you Amy and Grace for the beautiful feature.

Here are some of my favorite images from Karen’s house.



Design & Lifestyle

Vintaging Jaffa; a Colorful Tour in my favorite vibrant Flea Market

October 22, 2012

Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Flea Market, Design, Vintage, Retro

If you, like me, love to visit flea markets wherever you travel, than this post is for you. If you are looking for one of the most trendiest areas in Tel Aviv – Jaffa these days, look no further. The flea market in Jaffa is the place to be. 

A few weeks ago I met a colleague of mine, Karen Shavit, who is by the way, the Israeli version of Martha Stewart (but way younger) for a Rondez Vous in the flea market of Jaffa. Karen is definitely the ‘go-to’ person for everything that has to do with vintage and design and she is also the kind of woman who can easily and naturally combine business and pleasure. Therefore, I found myself  touring some of her favorite spots in the flea market (which most of them happened to be favors of mine) and see in my own eyes and camera lens how everyone knows Karen and welcomes her with open arms.

This is my quick guide and a colorful tour for some of my favorite spots in the flea market of Jaffa.

Nekudot Chen

Might be one of the biggest stores with rare collections of furniture and decorations. The owners fix and restore old furnitures he collects from all over Israel. This is one of Karen’s ‘must stop’ store. When we were there, she was looking for these old hair dryers that beauty salons used to keep in the 70ies. Even though she didn’t find one, we could easily shop for old restored lamps for her kitchen, old scales, some street signs and more. For me, every time I visit this place, it is like being ‘Alice in Vintage-land’

Nekudot Chen, 13 Oley Zion street, Jaffa 

Jaffa, Vintage, Flea Market, Tel Aviv, Design

Jaffa, Vintage, Flea Market, Tel Aviv, Design

Home Workshop

A two-floor store with an eclectic home decor collection from different locations in the world. The owner combines Bohemian chic with Oriental elements on a long dining table display in the center of the store. A little bit of mich- much but it seems that the regular clients easily find their ways there. One of the pictures I took of Home Workshop was published in Marie Claire Italy, September Issue.

Home Workshop, 4 Rabi Yochanan street, Jaffa

Jaffa, Vintage, Flea Market, Tel Aviv, Design

Jaffa, Vintage, Flea Market, Tel Aviv, Design


BoBo stands for Bourgeois Bohême which refers in French to an artistic way of life, usually attached to yuppies. I wouldn’t necessarily say the clothes and accessories store attracts mostly yuppies but the BoBo sound of the French definition, definitely give it a different class. I love this little store. Especially the old bath-tub in the front window that serves as a decoration and as a place to hold some clothes. (don’t try it at home). The clothes are very vintage and the accessories look like little candies on a tray.

BoBo, 12 Rabi Pinchas corner of 4 Rabi Nachman, Jaffa

Jaffa, Vintage, Flea Market, Tel Aviv, Design

Jaffa, Vintage, Flea Market, Tel Aviv, Design


This is one of the most inspiring stores for me in the flea market. A gallery of two floors that serves as a meeting point for creative ideas and a collaboration among creative people. The store holds clothes for kids and adults, home textile, vintage crockery straight from the 60ies, toys, furnitures, and the highlight of the store are the recycled clothes made of pique blankets that people donate. The store’s concept is to support and promote needy groups in society; the elderly, the minorities and people with disabilities. It just make Ma’asiya even better.

Every time I visit Maasiya, I get this warm fuzzy and comfort feeling. Must be the nostalgic wave I get each time I see the pique fabric, that reminds me of my childhood.

Make Ma’asiya a MUST stop when you visit the flea market.

Maasiya, 3 Rabi Yochanan street, Jaffa 

Jaffa, Vintage, Flea Market, Tel Aviv, Design

Jaffa, Vintage, Flea Market, Tel Aviv, Design


When we entered the little store of Tamara, it was obvious from the start she has a great taste and a wild imagination. Using materials such as colorful stones, chunky feathers, glossy beads and embroidery make her jewelry line and accessories very theatrical. Everything is hand made. I loved the three drawers hung on one of the walls and serve as a great decoration and a way to showcase Tamara’s talent and taste. It’s a fun store and every woman can find something for herself.

Tamara, 16 Rabi Pinchas street, Jaffa 

Jaffa, Vintage, Flea Market, Tel Aviv, Design

Jaffa, Vintage, Flea Market, Tel Aviv, Design


Well, Hello to you blast of colors, Good bye boredom. This is exactly how I feel each time I visit Sofi store. It is like Willy Wonka but for fun accessories. You can shop for kitchen ware from Kitsch Kitchen, Toys, bags, accessories from the Danish concept store *Rice, (already on my bookmark) and some vintage Asian packaging designed boxes and objects from Wu & Wu. Don’t rush when you visit Sofi. It is a treasured store and you want to have the time to explore it.

Sofi, 3 Rabi Nachman street, Jaffa 

Jaffa, Vintage, Flea Market, Tel Aviv, Design

Jaffa, Vintage, Flea Market, Tel Aviv, Design

Jaffa, Vintage, Flea Market, Tel Aviv, Design

Una Una Shoes

If you ever wondered how well-hand made shoes look like, I suggest you visit the studio Una Una. To be honest, I still didn’t buy myself a pair of shoes at the store, but I love the colored pairs the designer makes. The designer is an artist and every pair of shoes looks like a well-leather sculpture. I’m sure they are so comfortable to walk on. Beside the great shoes, the little store with a studio attached in the back, has a great vintage piano and some old sewing machines as a decoration display.

Una Una, 8 Rabi Yohanan street, Jaffa

Vintage, Flea Market, Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Design

Vintage, Jaffa, Flea Market, Design, Shoes

Sharon Brunsher

Some people refer to Sharon Brunsher’s store as a ‘foster kid’ among the rest of the stores. She is definitely not vintage, and her clothes are only in the black, white and grey colors; the opposite of the vibrant feel of the flea market. Some people refer to her clean Nordic style as a breath of fresh air, or as a ‘chromo- break’ in the middle of the busy tempo of the market. And yet, Sharon Brunsher’s store is a great example and proof that Jaffa’s flea market is developing and becoming a trendy place, otherwise she wouldn’t have chosen this location. When I entered the store I got a smack of white light in my eyes (thanks to the white wooden floor) and it was great to touch some minimalistic and light fabrics through my fingers.

Sharon Brunsher, 13 Amihad street, Jaffa 

Vintage, Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Flea Market, Design

Pua Restaurant

I can’t finish my vibrant vintage tour in Jaffa without a stop for a cup of coffee or a bite at Pua restaurant. The space looks like a retro apartment my grandparents used to have, filled with furnitures and decorations well collected from the vintage stores next door. Beside the eclectic atmosphere and design, Pua serves a great, earthy and tasty food. Israeli breakfast is served all day (a great plus for those who love a good well-balanced mediterranean breakfast) and the menu changes according to the owner’s desire. Rest asure that every day will be a good one. I highly recommend to make reservations (if possible) or be patient as this place is very busy.

Pua, 8 Rabi Yochanan street, Jaffa 

vintage, Flea Market, Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Lifestyle, Design

vintage, Flea Market, Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Lifestyle, Design

In addition to all the goodies, the vintage finds or the retro feel, the flea market of Jaffa is a great place to shoot and encounter some interesting characters.