More is more

Michal Negrin, an Israeli designer who sells her creations around the globe, is still the little girl who loves dollhouses and angels, and dreams of plenty.

By ORI J. LENKINSKI
January 25, 2011 13:11
3 minute read.
Michal Negrin designs

Negrin jewelry 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

This morning, as I walked up to Michal Negrin’s factory and storehouse in Bat Yam, I couldn’t stop thinking about Willy Wonka. The sky was gray and a light drizzle had just covered the streets of Bat Yam with a dull sheen. Set back from a cluster of apartment complexes sat one, singular, eyecatching building. It was colorful and bright, and seemed to promise to transport me away from our rainy winter to a balmier, more pleasant destination.

As I set foot in Negrin’s gallery, I was swept away into her world, which was indeed a prettier, more ornate place.

From the wallpaper to the background music to the scent in the air, every element in the building had been imagined and created by Negrin. The overall affect was the kind of bliss I remember experiencing as a little girl trying on a tutu.

Negrin has been selling jewelry since 1988, when she and her husband first showed her intricate, vintage-inspired pieces at an open-air market in Tel Aviv.

The response was overwhelming. They quickly realized the potential in their hands and opened a small shop on Rehov Sheinkin in Tel Aviv. Now, more than two decades later, Negrin’s work is sold in 20 countries. Two years ago, Negrin opened her Visitors’ Center, which offers tours, much like the one I experienced today, to guests from around the world.

Like many designers, Negrin’s vibrant imagination was ignited by a hunger for things she didn’t have. Growing up in the Sixties on Kibbutz Na’an, Negrin dreamt of plenty. “I always wanted more. I was always interested in the city, in the things I liked,” she said. “Even now, the more I have, the more I want.”

Looking around the highly decorated room, it was clear that “more” is a very relevant world in Negrin’s vocabulary.



The gallery room, which holds both a small shop and a café, is decorated from floor to ceiling in “things I like”, she explained. Dollhouses crafted by Negrin’s husband, Meir, sit in every spare corner, filled to the brim with miniature scenes Negrin has assembled in years of collecting.

Her business, which employs over 200 designers, seamstresses, craftsmen and the like, is a modern version of a “mom and pop shop.” While we spoke, Meir dashed off to tend to some of his responsibilities (Meir is CEO of Michal Negrin). Negrin’s daughter Yasmin sat beside her mother, offering comments every now and again. Yasmin’s is another creative voice in the company.

Their company is constantly in a state of expansion. What started with one small jewelry store blossomed into a fashion line, which tailors a full line of women’s wear, shoes, handcrafted dolls known as She Shys, bedding, lamps and all kinds of embellishments for the home.

There is simply nothing Negrin will not design. Even the paintings on the walls have been embossed by her hand.

“Our new idea, which is a dream of mine,” she said in a low whisper, “is a boutique hotel in Neveh Tzedek [where Negrin lives] where we can treat people to all the special things we want for ourselves.”

Though this fantasy is only in its beginning stages, with her positive outlook and killer business instinct, Negrin seems fully capable of making anything possible.

When looking for inspiration, Negrin seeks within, searching her dreams for new concepts. “Some mornings, I wake up with a beautiful image in my mind.

It takes me a while to recapture it. And then I realize that it isn’t something I have seen before, it’s something that I haven’t created yet,” she explained.

To get inspiration, Negrin frequents antique markets both in Israel and abroad. Most recently, she traveled to Greece and Croatia; where she gathered many ideas we will most likely see in the coming collection.

And despite her success, her empire of story-telling artifacts, Negrin is approachable and modest. “I want to share my experience, my thoughts,” she said. “And people seem to really connect to it. My pieces are conversation starters.”

Just as she finished her sentence, a customer happened to pass by while browsing the store. She recognized Michal, smiled and easily told her, “I have those boots, the ones with all the flowers on them and I’m in love with them. They are so comfortable and I think they’re just beautiful.”

“I am designing harmony,” said Negrin, “creating a more optimistic world.” 

For more information about Michal Negrin designs and stores, visit www.michalnegrin.com.


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