Before I continue recounting my adventures in Tel Aviv’s Gan HaHashmal neighborhood last weekend, I thought it only fair to provide some history about this newly-renovated-and-now-super-trendy area. Gan HaHashmal, or “the Electric Garden” in Hebrew, named after the city’s first power plant, is an old area of Tel Aviv that used to be a haven for the criminal, downtrodden and seedy. And that’s putting it lightly. As Tel Aviv’s city-wide Bauhaus renewal project began to extend to the beautiful buildings on Rothschild Boulevard, a handful of young Israeli apparel and accessory designers who were tired of working out of their homes and unwilling to pay sky-high rent for studio and storefront spaces in Tel Aviv’s better-known areas, saw this nearby industrial and ‘ungentrified’ area as the next frontier.
The Collective 6940 settled into the Gan HaHashmal area with a smattering of design studios and stores that inhabit the few blocks around the central garden. Their efforts grew organically and soon inspired other young Israeli entrepreneurs to open cafes, bars, and even a yoga studio. And neighborhood happenings, joint sales and block parties further propel this area into the fashion-forward spotlight.
Just to show you how old and old school the neighborhood was, the picture above shows the ethereal and whimsical fashion house Frau Blau. Next door is a science laboratory supply store with a storefront of beakers, test tubes, microscopes and more. Momentary pause: respect to old stuff.
The Collective 6940 website is all in Hebrew but the central map showing where the stores are located, also features the names of the Gan HaHashmal Israeli designers in English and even lists their websites. Not all the sites work, for some reason, and it’s not because most Israeli sites don’t seem to understand the preference for Mozilla over Explorer. For sure, if they want to attract a larger audience, the designers of Gan HaHashmal get some marketing material together up in English and fast. Although the municipality got behind some of the urban renewal, they should kick in some more money to make sure the area not only continues to develop culturally and artistically, but that it thrives too – economically of course.