Between Tel Aviv and Warsawby Anna Kopito | 03.11.15
Balagan is a new high-quality leather goods brand, based in Tel Aviv and in Warsaw – two cities that are geographically distant, but seem to have more in common than you would think. Anna Kopito caught up with Hanna Ferenc-Hilsden in Balagan’s studio in Florentine. All featured photos in this article were taken by Jenny Schweber.
The founders of Balagan – Hanna and Agata – are two graduates of design schools in Israel, Poland and Portugal. They had been dreaming about starting a brand together for years, and it was during their studies they both became interested in leather technology and accessories design.
Originally from Poland, Hanna moved to Israel in 2014 for her husband, who she had met during her studies at Bezalel in Jerusalem. Today, Hanna and Agata, work in a perfect partnership on their designs and production. Most of the time they live and work separately – Hanna living in Tel Aviv, and Agata in Warsaw. Nonetheless, the two manage to find all of the advantages of being located in different cities.
Hanna and Agata seamlessly divide the activities of the company between the two locations; meeting in Tel Aviv for the design process, managing the production in Poland, and photographing their look books in various locations in Israel. Skype and cheap flight tickets allows young brands and projects to not limit themselves to one market, but rather to explore geographically distinct places at the same time. For a small niche brand, Hanna sees the potential in launching a brand in two cities simultaneously, with a bigger clientele to target.
Happily, Tel Aviv and Warsaw share a similar design aesthetic – and Hanna and Agata have two cities to be inspired by. “In our design language, the simple elegance of Polish design with the casual and universal look that characterizes the Israeli street have been merged” says Hanna. The link is reflected in the name Balagan – a common word between the two cities.
The words and slang are not the only things that are connecting Israel and Poland, but also the mutual history. Hanna continues: ”When I moved to Israel I realized that most people don’t know how much we have in common. There are signs of it in the every day culture and behavior,” Hanna says, “in the mentality, the values, the relation to the family, the food tradition – and of course the presence of the Polish mum.”
Balagan’s latest photo shoot took place at the Dead Sea, with the two Tel Avivian musicians Mika Avni and Tomer Yeshayahu (Isaiah). For the coming season, the duo will continue promoting local artists and musicians from Israel and Poland, another way to create a bond between the two places. The vision now is to develop their business, and in the near future being able to open one shop in Warsaw, and one in Tel Aviv.
Balagan has showrooms in Tel Aviv and Warsaw. For appointment, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This Saturday they are participating in the fashion fair Dresscode. Click here for more details.