“The idea for Max Israeliana came while we were working on our first book Pax Israeliana, which was an index of Israeli modernism in art, design and architecture between 1948 – 1977,” explains Tel-Aviv-based design studio Public School. “We already started thinking of the post-modern era and did similar research of the years that follow 1977, which was a pivotal year in Israel’s social and political history. We ended Max Israeliana in another pivotal year in 1995, where Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a right-winged activist.”
The book showcases the aesthetics of Israel in that time frame taking into consideration the major political shift that occurred and shaped society as a result. In 1977, for the first time the political right wing, led by the Likud party, won the elections ending almost 30 years of left-wing regime, headed by the Israeli Labour party and its predecessor, Mapai. This changeover marked “Israel’s turn away from its European roots” and a new set of ideals that favoured individualistic capitalism, based on a free market economy.
“Trade union sanitariums made way for luxury hotels, state-rationed furniture became fashionable furniture sets, and neighbourhood centres became shopping malls,” says the studio. “The aftermath of the minimalist modernist times gave rise to a period marked by post-modern maximalism. It was a period of ongoing territorial battles, inflation and paradigmatic economic changes and hyper-consumption. Our research seeks to illustrate the aesthetics of these developments in local society, by looking at the art, design and architecture of Israel during those years.”
The book is informed by printed material found in libraries and archives, mainly books, catalogues and magazines, which allowed Public School to be broad and include lots of different creators and fields. “The book is part of our pocket series, which we usually print in one colour to keep the books affordable and ‘public’. This time we chose a fun, neon pink which we thought was a great contrast to the texts in the book which are pretty critical of the time,” says the studio. “We also printed images in full colour, since we felt colour was an important part of the era and the story we wanted to tell.” The publication feels like an alternative reference book with its brightly coloured pages and scanned-in images.
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