In the 1940s and 1950s, furniture purchased in Israel was taxed as a luxury item.
At the bottom of every table, chair or sofa, a small ticket was glued to mark that the fee had been paid. The tickets were numbered and colored according to the year the item was purchased.
For furniture restorer/designer Chen Eytan-Shats, finding these small bits of memorabilia is a highlight of her day. She loves the tickets so much that she modeled the insignia of her label after them.
Her studio One Piece specializes in high-end refurbishing of antique furniture.
“The tickets tell the story of the pieces I work on,” says Eytan- Shats over coffee at Sphera, a lighting boutique in Tel Aviv where a collection of One Piece furniture is currently on display. “They are remnants from a different era in this country, and I find them intriguing.”
Although she deals with old things, Eytan-Shats is relatively new to the field.
Married and the mother of three, the 42-year-old was not expecting to end up designing tables and chairs. Until a few years ago, she was on a clear track to success in the hi-tech arena.
“I was working for a big company for a long time. In the last couple of years, I started to feel like something was missing.
I gave notice without knowing where I was headed,” she explains.
At the same time as she packed up her cardboard box of personal items, Eytan- Shats discovered that she was expecting her third child.
“After my daughter Roni was born, I had a lot of time at home. I knew that I had to go back to work, so I started to send my resumé out. I contacted a bunch of companies that were just like the one I had been working for. The minute I realized that, I stopped dead in my tracks. After all, I left my job for a reason,” she recounts.
As it happened, her neighbor was looking for a buyer for a container of antique furniture.“He told me about it, and I thought, ‘Why not me?’ That’s how it all started,” she says.
She then had to figure out how to take the images in her mind and apply them to the overwhelming load of furniture she had just purchased.
“I became the apprentice of an upholsterer.
I realized right away that there was a big gap between my ability and the level of execution that I wanted,” she says.
She looked around for the best craftsmen in the business and got to work conveying her unique visions to them.
Two years later, Eytan-Shats is still working through that original stock of furniture.
“Nowadays, I take apart the pieces before passing them on to my team. That includes a complete dismantling of each bit, down to the bare bones,” she explains. “Everything is thoroughly cleaned and sanded down before any of the design work starts.”
To date, One Piece has put out three vibrant and innovative collections.
Each collection consists of 10 pieces, ranging in price from NIS 900 to NIS 5,000. The pieces are available at Sphera, in her home studio in Ramot Hashavim and online.
The cornerstone of Eytan-Shats’s aesthetic is color.
“When I visit my friends, I see the same things over and again. All our houses look the same. It’s like we could trade interiors and never know the difference,” she laughs. “You see so much off-white and beige these days. I like to shake that up by adding pops of bright color. That said, I feel strongly that colors must be used carefully in the home. I wouldn’t sell an entire collection of mine to the same household.
The pieces are at their best when they are integrated into the overall design of a room.
Then they can really shine,” she says.
Beyond her collections, Eytan-Shats offers custom-made services. Clients with antique pieces can brainstorm with her about an ultimate makeover for their furniture. She is also available for home-styling consultations, which include lighting, textiles and furniture.
The current One Piece collection features shocking oranges alongside teal and cherry red. Many of the textiles are vintage; however, they undergo treatments such as handmade embroidery before they are applied to the furniture.
“The fabrics available in Israel are limited.
I am always looking for ways to make fabric special or different,” she says.
Embroidery and dyeing are two of her favorite techniques for sprucing up cloth.
“Even though it is considered an oldworld craft, people respond very strongly to the embroidered pieces,” she adds.
In Eytan-Shats’s hands, the most unlikely materials find themselves getting along.
She is able to juxtapose exuberant patterns without creating chaos.
“It’s about finding harmony among the materials,” she says. “My dream is to give these chairs, sofas and shelves another lifetime, to allow them be of service to another generation. As I design the pieces, I imagine another upholsterer refurbishing them 30 years from now.”
For more information about Chen Eytan- Shats and One Piece, visit www.onepiece.co.il.