Beth G. Kopin
Inches to Metric: Zionism Through Design

Inches to Metric: Cookie Cutter

Beth's Hamsa Necklace
Beth’s Hamsa Necklace

“TO BE OR NOT TO BE” a cookie cutter, “THAT IS THE QUESTION?”

People often ask what is my design style? I laugh and say “good taste.” I pride myself on being unique without a distinct look. What do I mean by that?

Some designers assume clients want “the look,” so they adopt a cookie cutter approach. I’ve been to homes where the same furniture, color palette, and kitchens, are used. The client pays a fortune for advice to achieve “the look.”

Other designers encourage people to buy expensive/non practical items playing on their insecurities of what is “good taste.” Why? They make more money on high commissions and it covers up for poor architectural space planning. Many designers do not hone that crucial skill.

It is tempting to play the designer game. I try to steer clients towards appropriate selections, not the most expensive. I’m unable to justify needless cost and I hate to play THE GAME. I’ve attracted clients who are billionaires, millionaires, middle class, young couples and singles. I have never met anyone on an unlimited budget. My clients merit respect, good counsel and value, while being guided towards “good taste”.

I can predict depending on the demographic what the client will want. Most people follow trends. Now that is a fun game! My clients have specific needs/goals. Bringing out their unique style has expanded my horizon. My definition of “good taste” has evolved. I’m grateful for the wide variety of clients, (with diverse backgrounds), I’ve had the pleasure to work with.

Chassidic, Modern orthodox, Conservative, Reform, European (who fled Europe).
Singles; Divorcees, widows, bachelors.

Chassidic; Americans, Europeans, Israelis
Modern Orthodox/Conservative; Canadians, Americans
Soldiers housing

I’ll share a few observations… Depending on who comes to our homes, some clients see two dishwashers and prep zones in our kitchen as very religious. The Chassidim in Israel wonder why we have a sink in the bathroom not outside of the toilet room, and have a king sized bed not two separate beds.

The American and Israeli born Chassidim have very different outlooks. Within the Chassidic world depending on which group you associate with, there are different customs of dress, and homes design. People joke “What is a Jew?” It seems there are as many types of Jews as there are individuals.

The Chassidic clients in Israel who interview me are usually the husbands. When I ask to meet the wife they invariably ask “Why?” I tell them it is important and in their best interest to involve her, as she runs the household. When the three of us meet I take pages of notes. The husbands are shocked, and the wives adore me. I am the first one to ask them what they want/need.

When a Chassidic man came to our home in Jerusalem to work on his plans, we were alone. Keeping the door to the apartment ajar permitted us to be together. I found it comforting and respectful. My Chassidic clients all enjoyed our coffee/iced tea/scotch and jelly beans, showing they were comfortable and willing to eat some things from our Jewish home. I laugh with all my Chassidic clients, at our own distinct brand of Judaism and with each others. They are my friends.

Working with my Muslim client in Chicago has been fascinating. I learned much about his culture. Typically the home will not have alcohol stored or displayed anywhere on the main floor. Parents are often invited to live in the home, so a master suite on the main level is a must. We respect each other and laughed continually through the entire design/construction process. I sometimes wear a Hamsa (the hand) necklace, a symbol of good luck in both cultures. We often joke we are cousins and have more in common than not. I consider him my friend.

The diversity of my clients’ cultures continually breathes oxygen into my craft and soul, expanding my art in a unique way. They have one thing in common, all want a beautiful and practical home reflecting their own particular lifestyle.

What this has done? OPENED MY HEART!

About the Author
Beth Kopin is a trained interior architectural designer from the US. She has experience in the design/construction world that spans thirty years, and works and lives in both Chicago and Arnona, Jerusalem. She commutes regularly between the two cities. She brings her work ethic, training and US standards to Israel. Beth has surrounded herself with extremely talented trades. Her design team developed a way to CAD (computer aided design) plans in both US and metric standards. This enables both the US born clients (some of which live in Israel, some as second homes), and Israeli trades to better understand the plans, ensuring a more fluid communication. She is able to help bridge the gap of cultural differences, manage expectations, relate often confusing metric standards, as well as all the basic elements of designing a beautiful and functional home.,
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