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Yael Siso for The Levee

2nd Jan 2020

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Hailing from Belgium and now based in Israel, Yael Siso has been a breath of fresh air on the boutique interior design scene. Based in the architectural and business centre of Tel Aviv, her years of experience working for luxury clients and businesses has resulted in an incredible and noteworthy portfolio. Incorporating European elements and influence throughout her projects, her minimalistic style paired with nature-oriented materials creates clean-cut and sleek spaces every time. Her role in Tel Aviv’s latest hospitality venture The Levee is no exception. Comprising of eight loft-like interiors in a UNESCO World Heritage protected Bauhaus building, originally built in 1913, Yael’s signature style exudes from each apartment and offers a bespoke short-stay experience. Yael took the time to tell us about how her background influences her aesthetic, how she took on the role as interior designer for The Levee and what the future holds for interior design in Israel.

Yael, you have an incredibly interesting background, can you elaborate on how you originally got into interior design?

I always felt that spaces have an effect on my mood and the energy on me and the people around me. Without looking deeply into it, I started studying business but quickly understood that this wasn’t my true passion. I’m passionate about how a change in space not only has a physical influence but a psychological influence as well. The combination of design, psychology and the interactions of both with people is eventually what drives me most.

What led you to open your own interior design studio?

Having the freedom to find the balance of my own style and my clients’ needs is what led me to open my own studio. In addition, I believe there was space for more European design aesthetics in Israel. By combining my European background with Israeli studies and experience, I was able to attract international projects and clients.

What can you tell us about The Levee?

The concept of The Levee is a new hospitality venture designed to accommodate international tourists by providing a home-away-from-home feeling. These clients enjoy deliberate simplicity and the finer things in life and therefore I was influenced by international residential projects rather than hotels. We decided to use loft-like interiors as a common theme amongst all of the apartments, creating an interesting contrast between old and new throughout the whole building. The apartments are distinguished by their high ceilings, a rarity in the heart of Tel Aviv.

What design aesthetic did you aim to present in each apartment?

Before starting the design process, it was important for me to feel the space and see what aesthetic would fit the most within each zone. We quickly noticed that the ground floor had a more laid-back vibe, the first floor had a more classic feel with the original walls and the other floors were more modern. As each floor was different, I decided to divide it into eight apartments, each having their signature features and sources of inspiration.

How do the refurbished and industrial-like interiors complement the historic exterior?

The walls and ceilings are comprised of untreated cement that gives it an industrial touch but that also feels genuine by way of being exposed. In some places, the original 100-year-old concrete which was made using sand sourced from the Tel Aviv shores surprises the viewer with pieces of seashells that can be found within it. To accompany this organic feel, I chose warm wooden floors that highlight the roughness, texture and authenticity of the natural material and its own history. To balance this, minimalist lighting was selected to contour the apartment lines, accentuating its geometric shapes. The mix between old and new tells the story of our eclectic Tel Aviv.

Can you talk about the materials you were drawn to use throughout the apartments?

First of all, it was incredibly important for me to leave the original walls. I was also drawn to the concrete ceiling and so we decided to leave them bare. To balance these industrial and rough materials I wanted to incorporate modern and Art Deco-inspired finishes and furnishings. The concept of The Levee is to accommodate international tourists, therefore for furnishings I selected pieces from international designers that represent the lively and global city that Tel Aviv is. These include Minotti, Molteni, Cassina, Moroso and Bonaldo, to name a few.

How does The Levee reflect Tel Aviv’s rich history?

Tel Aviv is known as an eclectic and cosmopolitan city with different styles and cultures. The interior design connects with the original structure, its surroundings and allows for visitors to connect with themselves and experience ultimate relaxation amid the hustle and bustle of city life. Each apartment has its own personality and style, just like the diversity of Tel Aviv.