Peleg Design’s Magnetic Vase is a bestseller. (photo from Peleg Designs)
From optical illusion flower vases to playful elephant-shaped cutlery drainers, Shahar Peleg wants his products to bring his customers joy, but first and foremost to fulfil a need in their home.
How does he figure out what those needs are? “Some of the ideas came to us while daydreaming, some in the shower, some we woke up with and some just came to us by email,” reads the website’s Suggest an Idea section.
People from all over the world reach out, the designer and founder of the brand told Israel21c. “Once in awhile, we get a great idea and we pay royalties to the designers or inventors,” he said. “It’s really amazing because a lot of people have a lot of ideas.” For example, the Bag Bunny, a magnetic rabbit-shaped tool for easily opening plastic packaging, was inspired by a customer suggestion.
Founded in 2005 and based in Tel Aviv, Peleg Design’s online store offers around 100 unique products that stem from everyday needs, each with quirks, twists or optical illusions that Peleg describes as “magical.” Nothing, he said, is what it seems.
The product that kicked off the company’s success was a vase Peleg designed for his own wedding in 2005. These “floating” vases are anchored by magnetic bases hidden underneath the tablecloth. To this day, the vase set is one of Peleg Design’s bestsellers. “It was a huge hit,” he said. “That’s what really began to generate business.”
Another universal problem Peleg wanted to solve was grime building up at the bottom of a cutlery drainer. His answer was Jumbo, an elephant-shaped cutlery holder that drains water out of its trunk, directly into the sink.
Peleg said function is key, and design secondary, to usefulness. But, still, he hopes his customers will fall in love with his “cute” designs.
His newest item, the Egguins, is an example of that cuteness. The penguin-shaped eggholder is not only visually amusing, but makes it easy to remove eggs from boiling water and store them in the fridge. One comment on Peleg Design’s Instagram page calls the item “the best thing since sliced bread.”
Many of Peleg’s products are made from plastic but they are meant to last. Sensitive to environmental issues, he explained that he wants his customers to develop an emotional connection to the items and use them for as long as possible before discarding them.
Passion and profession
Growing up, Peleg dreamed of being an astronaut, but he would eventually find his passion in a different form of exploration: design.
Peleg studied interior design at the Holon Institute of Design. A class project made him realize he had an eye for creating quirky but useful knick-knacks. He had made a wine-bottle holder that seemed to defy gravity. He was able to sell a few even before graduating.
“It started from selling one product in two or three stores in Tel Aviv,” he said. “It’s now become both my passion and my profession.”
What began as a one-man show has expanded to more than 30 countries, including the United States, Japan, Peru, France and South Korea. Some designs can even be found at the gift shop of the Louvre Museum in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art’s gift shop in New York City, where the Magnetic Vase is one of its bestselling items.
Peleg explained that his products are available in most major economies, excluding those that have no political relations with Israel. He hopes one day that will change, and he says so to the businesspeople he meets from countries like Iran and Kuwait.
Every now and then, Peleg receives an email from an Israeli customer, with a photo of his Magnetic Vase on a shelf in the MOMA gift shop. They are so happy to see an Israeli designer’s product among some of the world’s best, he said, noting, “That makes me proud.”
For more information, visit peleg-design.com.
Israel21c is a nonprofit educational foundation with a mission to focus media and public attention on the 21st-century Israel that exists beyond the conflict. For more, or to donate, visit israel21c.org.