A home with humor

Architect Orna Biran, together with Ofer Fogelman, revamp 25-year-old mini-penthouse in Azorei Chen.

The Warendorf kitchen is of German design, will all machines hidden except for a retro red toaster. (photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
The Warendorf kitchen is of German design, will all machines hidden except for a retro red toaster.
(photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
‘We feel there is a lot of humor in the apartment, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously,” says Orna Biran, the architect who together with her partner, Ofer Fogelman, oversaw the revamping of this 25-year-old mini-penthouse in Azorei Chen.
For an abode which has been in existence for a quarter of a century, it certainly looks very contemporary. The owner is Tsippy Goldberger, who was married to Ernest, a Swiss immigrant. He sadly died five years ago, but many memories of him and his Swiss background remain – and are central to the look of the home.
The effect they all wanted is produced by the combination of Israeli and European ideas, a mixture of styles and materials and the careful choice of lighting and accessories, to produce the carefree feeling one has on entering the five-room refurbished apartment.
Goldberger has a large and very supportive extended family, and she entertains a great deal. For her, the kitchen was one of the most important rooms to get right.
She chose a Warendorf kitchen, made in Germany but with a company office here in Ramat Hahayal run by Shifra Shapira, who helped with the very unusual design.
The cabinets are high-standard, modern design; Goldberger made sure the whole area was totally streamlined, with every machine out of sight but within easy reach.
Indeed, even the state-of-the-art coffee machine is set into its own niche and only the retro red toaster has been left out; otherwise, the countertops are bare, apart from some plants and a fruit bowl. The storage unit on the left has five doors, all in different colors and all opening in a different direction. For one door, the flaps go up, another down and the others open at the sides. The long and very convenient worktops are made from Caesar stone, lending a look of dark gray basalt.
“It’s a very comfortable and pleasant kitchen to work in,” says Goldberger.
“Everything is out of sight and easy to reach.”
The dining area was kept quite minimalistic even though family gatherings take place very often with Goldberger, helped by her sisters, presiding over the formal dinners.
“We felt a round table which can be extended gives the best feeling of intimacy and flexibility,” says architect Biran.
In fact the table has five extra parts, kept in a storage area, which allow it to open and seat 20 people. Next to the table, two nude sculptures made from mesh by Ella Almog survey the scene.
The hanging lights illuminating the dining area and kitchen are made from recycled corrugated cardboard.
“We chose them because they are attractive to look at, very light, and ecologically they can’t be faulted,” says Biran.
Goldberger has twin 15-year-old daughters, and their bathroom is in the center of the apartment with no outer windows. However, it is a cheerful, bright room thanks to the ceiling skylight which allows in plenty of light. The skylight is decorated in an asymmetrical design, made especially for the room by a talented carpenter who created the “crazy paving” overhead.
The shower walls are covered in a dainty red and cream mosaic, with the red of the tiles picked up in the towels neatly folded on the glass shelves. A huge wall mirror adds to the illusion of space. “It feels more like a spa than a bathroom,” says Biran.
The living room is more sedate in color, with white, black and gray predominating. Black cushions on the beige sofa are echoed in the black rug, while the easy chairs have an intricate basket-weave design in black and white.
Says the architect, “It was important for us to create a backdrop for the artwork, and also for the memories.”
Several artworks are displayed, including sculptures of nudes perched on black marble plinths which show them to great effect. A glass-fronted niche contains many of the decorative objects Ernest collected over the years, and is not just an aesthetic feature but something of a memorial to him.
The bedroom is also colored in black and white, featuring a very unusual chair with what look like four different cushions making up the seat in different pastel shades.
Finally, the balcony leading from the living room was given more prominence in the refurbishment. A step that had connected the two areas was removed to make the entire floor at one level, and the tiles used to pave the area are extra-large – 1.20 by 1.20 cm. – to contribute to the feeling of one big open space, whether outside or in.
“It’s very much a home you feel you’d like to stay in, and definitely not a museum piece,” says Biran.