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Storefront: Aisha Moroccan Design | Orna | April 4, 2012

Moroccan design shop in Tel Aviv Jaffa

I’ve never met Yael (Aisha) Bonney before I went to her Moroccan design gallery, Aisha, but when we met, I felt an instant connection. Her gallery is where she brings unique and beautiful home decor, furniture and embellishments from Morocco and North-Africa in general. As a designer I’m always searching for this sort of boutique shops, that allow me to handpick curated and unique items. It turns out, Yael is no less fascinating than the items she sells, and so, she was the perfect candidate for the second installment of my Storefront series.

When did you know you wanted to start the gallery?

I went with my father on a journey after our family roots in Morocco, and it was a very powerful experience. I felt for me, the journey there just started. So I went back and simply started to buy stuff I liked. Then I started researching Morocco and the goods with the goal of creating something new, and that’s how Aisha was born.

Moroccan design in Israel

Photography: top- Ziv Sade; bottom- Shai Adam

What made you decide to start a gallery in Jaffa of all places? 

I live in Tzur Moshe, a northern suburb, and I wanted to be closer to the center. Somehow, my gut feeling led me to Jaffa and I fell in love with the narrow alleys. I found this ancient, neglected space and with the help of architect Agnon Granot, turned it into a gallery that feels like home. We preserved the old architecture and thanks to the fact that Agnon and I shared the same idea of what it should become, we managed to also inject something refreshing into the mix. He took my dream and made it come true.

What makes people – and you – fall in love with the items you sell?

We all have stuff, but what makes some items or furniture special is the stories; I collect the stories throughout Morocco. Many of the items in the gallery are one-of-a-kind, not just here, but in the whole world. Morocco is a treasure trove of craftsmanship, skills, technique and soul, and along with the North-African colors, that’s what makes me feel a connection to each item here.

Top and bottom: Styling by Orna Mazor, photography by Ori Navot; middle photo by Ziv Sade

How do you put together a collection?

I always have a certain story line for each collection, either in the colors or the design. After I decide on that, I reach out to the various artists and craftsmen with whom I’m in touch. Artist from different locations have different specialties, so the Berber rugs, the leather goods, the straw and jute – nothing comes from just one place. It’s important to me to keep that eclectic vibe and keep the simple, magical quality of those artists.

Each time I work on a collection it feels like a spiritual process. Each time I find out a certain secret.

Do you have a favorite item?

It’s almost impossible to chose, but I can tell you about one woman who does most of the embroidery for me and I feel like our souls were meant to meet. Her name is Naiza and she manages a small group of women who support their big families by sewing and embroidering. I find her inspiring.

My own choice would be the fabric door stops. With the intricate metal arabesques and colorful range of fabric, they could be used for anything, you can hang them as a decoration or even use them as bookends – they will insert some of the Aisha magic into your home. Aisha, 12 Yefet st (HaChalfanim Alley), Jaffa.

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