Shahar Peleg, the owner of Peleg Design, actually studied interior design. "I have taken only two product design courses during my studies in HIT (Holon Institute of Technology)". One of these courses led to the creation of the magical wine bottle holder, Shahar's first product ever and a design and commercial success.
These studies, he says, provided him with a genuine viewpoint when designing and thinking up new products – regarding their functionality, the experience of the people who will use them, the way they will blend in with the living space and users' daily life and enrich theirroutine.
The magnetic vase
The magnetic vase, the product that launched Shahar's career as a designer, is one of his most loved products. Slender, delicateand utterly un-vase-like, many people refer to it as a "candlestick". It all started before Shahar's wedding: he and his fiancée, both designers,sought to make original, unusual centerpieces, although Shahar was not "officially" a product designer yet.
The entire design and production process came to be as if by chance. Shahar had a large number of extra-strong magnets, originally bought for realizing another idea that he was working on at the time (later to become Key Pete), and these were used to create the base of the vase. He used strong aluminum profiles that could neatly be cut to 24cm pieces, size which gavethe vase its unique shape.
The wine bottle holder was the first product Shahar ever made, in a product design course during his studies. It was a natural outcomeof his fascination with optical illusions, nurtured by a short career as a magician at the age of 16 and an intuitive sensation of the physical presence of objects in space.
Nine vases were positioned on each table, creating the image of a flower field in the wedding. The enthusiastic feedback they attracted from the guests, as well as from the owner of the banquet hall – who rushed to rent the vases for future weddings – convinced Shahar here was an unusual product. 40 packs of 5 vases each sold in 3 days, while the couple was away on its honeymoon, were to be the beginning of Peleg Design. Today, the vases are a popular item in museum gift shops and design stores worldwide.
The wine bottle holder was the also the first commercial collaboration between Shahar and Monkey Business. In 2007 Shahar attended a lecture by Oded Friedland in Soho design store, where Oded presented some of his products and described the beginning of his design career. Shahar soon teamed up with Monkey Business with a view to getting his designs to international markets. Today, Peleg Design's products are distributed in more than 30 countries and can be found in stores as far away as Bali, Macau or Iceland.
Shahar's fascination with optical illusions was also behind the magnetic vase as well as the reflective pegs memo, the Hanukkah lamp, the reflective bookend and reflective tic-tac-toe. Magnets are incorporated in many of Shahar's products as elements of magic and illusion: small but powerful, they enable the make-believe of overcoming the laws of physics.
The lasso bottle holder, the wine bottle holder's cousin, took some time to come to life. Shahar prefers to crate products that are completely new: based on new technology, offering different usage or meant for a different space. The lasso is indeed a relative of the chain holder, but softer, less macho, featuring loose ends and not needing a bottle to stand up straight. Likewise, Key Petite – Key Pete's female counterpart – was born following the demand for additional colors for her brother.
Products that grow on you
The pegs memo makes a fine example of how one discovers Shahar's products gradually. At the store, people are mostly attracted by the design and the pegs; at home, they discover the fun ofusing the pegs and the illusion generated by the reflected half-pegs.
The new Royal Placemats, too, attract attention as neat, large playing cards, imitating at first look the same graphic language. It is usually only when placing them under their plate that people notice the food items featured on the cards, some of them replacing the weapons traditionally held by jacks and kings.
Crime Scene is comparatively quite an immediate, intuitive product, but it toohas an inscription on the side facing down: "No little people were harmed in the process of making this product".
Shahar says that this is one of things he likes best about making his products: the ability to generate unexpected fun, much after you thought they were cool and took them home.
Some of the fun aspects of Shahar's products were the result of chance. Hotman's mouth, which allows him to be hung on the wall, was created when hehad to be hung in the oven during the production process. Crime Scene, now made of silicone that allows play with its shape, was originally made of metal but changed because of the need to make it more smooth and stable.
Shahar aims to create iconic shapes, which are familiar to every person everywhere in the world from their everyday lives. The idea for Computer Jewelry came when Shahar noticed how people try to personalize their little corner of the office space with odd stuff and toys, and wanted to providethem a finer, designed product. The jewelry too reflect Shahar's love for optical illusions ('Paint' design) and humor that reveals itself gradually (the 'clock' design shows five minutes to 5, almost time to go home).
The books on the cover of Booxstore are a take-off on the design and titles of design books, and their names refer to the contents of the box ('all those little things'), also in French, Italian and Spanish.
Green, functional, accessible
Shahar seeks to make products that are above all practical, functional, durable and high-quality. "This is what environmentallyfriendly products are really about", he says, "they may be made of plastic, but they serve you for years". The products are manufactured using green technology and only in places where fair employment practicesare applied. This makes them slightly more expensive yet still affordable: products that may be too expensive do not make it to the production line.
Durability is not just a matter of good materials but also of diversity and long lasting fun. The Butterfly Hangers, for example, are a fine replacement for ordinary hangers, which people usually hide behind doors. The butterflies offer renewed presence year-round, carrying coats in the winter and bringing news of spring when the coats are gone.
The story of Key Pete
Shahar's ultimate best-seller Key Pete took 4 years from the initial idea to the final product. He made the first version – the third item he ever designed – for an exhibition in a local design store. First he took extra-strong magnets that he had from a project at school and just hanged thekeys on them. Then he placed the magnets within circular Perspex pieces. This version was well received at the exhibition, encouraging Shahar to make Key Pete three-dimensional.
He made some experiments, starting with PVC pipes and metal wire, and after 3 years of investigation finally went on to 3D printing, aided by a designer friend, and invested all he had in the production of the first series.
Key Pete's final shape, which makes him so lovable, combines the practical physical requirement (the proper angle between the magnets), the universal image of the athletic climber or window cleaner, and the basic, iconic shape of a little person: head, arms, and legs.
The need and the neat
Shahar and the designers that work with him believe that the products should speak for themselves:an important aspect of their work is finding the element that will make people get attached to the product, the combination of the need and the neat. One such new product is the Mark Brothers, cool little creatures that tell you which cable belongs to which electronic device.
The studio's logo, featured only on part of its products, is well concealed and integrates well with the logic of the product or its humor. "We don't want people to buy these products because they are ours," Shahar says, "We want them to like them, to be excitedby the way of thinking embedded in them. This is what we constantly try to achieve."