Israel is a land of pragmatic innovation. It comes at you from all sides, and a fundamental understanding of design plays an important role in that fact. Yuli Tamir, the president of Israel’s Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art, understands this well.
Tamir has a regal bearing and somewhat stern features that light up when she is interested, amused, or delighted. A former politician—among several governmental posts, she was Israel’s Minister of Education from 2006 to 2009 and served as a longtime member of the Knesset—she is an outspoken peace activist. Today, Tamir brings her knowledge of education to bear in a new way at Shenkar. As she said in a speech early on in her post as head of the school:
In many ways, Shenkar is what Israel should be about: a center of culture and creativity that relies on cutting-edge technological know-how in order to produce and reproduce a new way of life: whether in fashion, art, textile, chemistry, technology, or design, Shenkar challenges young people to think and create, and that is what education is all about.
Founded in 1970, Shenkar’s main campus is located in two buildings in Ramat Gan, east of Tel Aviv. Hallways buzz with the mechanical sounds of 3-D knitting machines and printing presses; in classrooms students give presentations to one another and bear up to critiques. Vitrines showcase recent experimental designs by student. Everything at Shenkar is about new ideas, moving things forward. As Tamir says:
You think, “Okay, innovation in Israel, that’s the Weizmann Institute, the Technion”—and those places certainly do have a high level of innovation. But when you look at where unusual industry starts, it’s usually here rather than there. . . . We are hands-on. [Here at Shenkar], we are strengthening the entrepreneurial spirit among students, to give them a platform to develop and initiate their own ideas.