Book a room at this unique Mediterranean guesthouse
You can always count on something 'interesting and unexpected' to happen at Yafo Creative.
Yafo Creative is difficult to define. The brainchild of 27-year-old Amnon Ron, it's housed in an Ottoman-era apartment in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Israel, that he bought three years ago with a vague vision for its future use.
"I had an idea of what I wanted the place to be, but it developed very organically," the Jerusalem native told From The Grapevine.
What he wanted it to be was both a lodging for visitors to Tel Aviv and a cultural centerpiece of the city. In short, a place where guests from abroad could mix with local artists. He soon found he would have little trouble achieving his goal.
Ron's first boarders at the four-room guesthouse were a group of musicians from Berlin. That Friday night in October 2013, Ron held a dinner for them and a few friends from the neighborhood, among whom was a local singer. Soon after dinner began, an impromptu concert had broken out.
Inspired, Ron continued with the dinners. "Each Friday something interesting and unexpected happened," he explained.
Ron began to introduce more structure to the proceedings, organizing small concerts. He also began to use the space to exhibit the work of other local artists, using the walls for photo and painting exhibitions and the ample floor space for sculpture and installations.
"It just became this place to come and see art in very intimate surroundings, to see some of the best new talent in Israel perform and to test out new materials; and it became a place where people both locally and internationally could connect," Ron said.
At the same time all this was happening, Ron was running a small production company, also called Yafo Creative, out of a room in the guesthouse. Through this, further artistic collaborations were made, and a whole new category of people was introduced to the place.
A very literal example of this is Tzlil Danin. She actually works for the production company and also happens to be a popular singer in the city.
"It's sort of a dream job, I love this place," she told From The Grapevine. "My friends are jealous that I get to spend so much time here."
From The Grapevine visited Yafo Creative on a recent Friday night and found that their famous dinners are truly unique. One of the houseguests, a law student from Germany, was helping to cook dinner. Another, an American, was hanging out with locals on the back deck.
Valery Sherman, lead singer of the local band Lara Snow, was there with her bandmate, Jonatan Harpak. The two had just returned from a music showcase in New York and had made Yafo Creative one of their first stops.
"When great art, great food and great people come together, what more can you ask for?" Sherman told From The Grapevine.
The band is part of the flourishing cultural scene in the city that Yafo Creative is helping to facilitate.
"Tel Aviv is thriving. There's a lot going on. There's always new acts, new things going on," Ron said.
Amnon Ron (L) and Vancouver-based fashion blogger La Carmina (R) pose for a picture during a visit by Carmina to Yafo Creative. (Photo: Yafo Creative Facebook)
Visitors from all over the world have found their way to Yafo Creative in the two years since it opened. Germany and the United States have been especially well represented, according to Ron. It's quite possible that one day, cities in these countries will boast their own Yafo Creative. Whether it be Berlin or Boston, or even Bogota, Ron hopes to one day export the model he has found so much success with to other parts of the world. But despite his grand designs of improving societies around the world through cultural collaboration, he remains above all very modest.
"I'm just a dude that opens his house to people," he said, laughing.
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE: