In the heart of Jaffa, a few streets from Jerusalem Boulevard, past the famous Abu Hasan Hummus, (arguably the best hummus in the Tel Aviv Jaffa area) up an old staircase sits a huge door with a little Yafo Creative logo. The culmination of its central location while being off the beaten path means the noise from the street is very minimal. The trendy Noga neighborhood is within 5 minutes walking distance, and home to gems such as the Gesher theatre, and the very hip bar/restaurant Casino San Remo.
Often reputed as a historical ancient city, and known for its classical art galleries, Jaffa has lagged behind Tel Aviv in terms of trendiness. However recently due to lower house prices and gentrification, Jaffa is having a creative makeover. Three years ago Amnon Ron, the founder and CEO of Yafo Creative moved to Jaffa because of the serenity and how similar it is to his hometown of Jerusalem. “This area was pretty untouched; no young artists were living here”.
Ron explains “It all started when I was studying film… I directed the ideas and the energy of people around me, which led to a lot of improvisation and allowed life to come into the project. I thought how can you take that and transform that into society some way? Can that actually be a model for anything else? Because I felt that for the first time, within in a structure, there was a harmony, and something really worked and clicked. I felt that is the way I want to live my life, I want to have this around me all the time.”
The interest of mixing and matching different creative types is a pillar of the ideology of the place, because “the perspective of the film makers is different from a graphic artist and when they meet something might spark and that’s interesting.” Yafo Creative became a guest house and creative content center, a multi-disciplinary production hub spearheading projects ideated and developed by a strong community of Israeli and international artists.
In the building, light streams through the balcony windows on the far side of the huge room, with dramatic columns and arches and a collection of mismatched sofas and a piano. At the opposite end of the living space there is an open kitchen and another balcony behind it, with the middle of the room consisting of an enormous communal table. Four bedrooms and two bathrooms lead off the main space. Although the space is empty, it isn’t hard to imagine the events that have and will take place. The concept of the interior being “very different styles that work together” is clearly mirrored by the concept of the place in general. “It’s a magnificent house. The tough work was not to ruin in”. Each piece of furniture has a story; the table was “made by a friend from Mexico, and another friend made the beds,” Ron explains.
Ron envisioned in his head, a studio space with a lot of rehearsal rooms around it and a café and a bar and a venue. Although not realized yet, he is certain that all of those plans will happen one day, “at the end of all these ideas I said, oh yeah, and in front of it there’s going to be a hotel.” The space offers: rooms, event space, production services and creative community to various external projects and different artists.
The guest house allows for international artists to experience, unite and join forces with creative locals in an authentic setting. From all the parts of his original vision, “the guest house happened first. The boutique guest house.” Yafo offers a brand of hospitality that isn’t generic tourism. It is, instead, a unique opportunity to connect and collaborate with creative locals in an authentic, dynamic and inspirational location in Israel.
Every month, a big dinner is held in the space, made up of a growing community of locals and internationals. It started while some DJs and VJs from Berlin were staying at Yafo Creative. Ron described one evening in particular, “we said we should do a dinner and 30 people showed up just like that! After dinner, some people started playing music, and then the VJs started projecting visuals on top of them, and something sparked an amazing environment.”
Currently, Yafo is host to several ongoing projects, such as managing their house band, Kids Fly. They also work with other bands and musicians such as theAngelcy, Maya Belzitsman & Matan Ephrat and Tzlil, who is also a manager at Yafo Creative and has a video scheduled to be released mid May, 2015. Additionally, there are gallery exhibitions of many different painters and sculptors.
When asked what he foresaw for the next 5 years, Ron replied, “This space will stay the same. I would like to see the opening of new spaces around the world, which will link to here and I foresee bigger projects.”
Abu Hasan, 14 Shivtei Israeli Street, Jaffa, Israel +972 3 682 0387
Gesher Theater, 7 Jerusalem Boulevard, Jaffa, Israel +972 3 681 3131
Casino San Remo, Nehama Street 2, Jaffa, Israel +972 3 504 2003
By Dalia Mandel
Dalia Mandel is a born and bred Londoner, presently studying English Literature and Philosophy at Tel Aviv University. During the last few years she worked as a cook, was a graffiti artist and a jewelry designer. She hopes to continue living through the lens of critical thought and creative processes, and to keep her inspiration alive by involving herself in as many creative projects as possible- writing of course being one of them. She hopes to continue living through the lens of critical thought and creative processes, and to keep her inspiration alive by involving herself in as many creative projects as possible- writing of course being one of them.