ISRAELI-BORN ILANA GOOR began sculpting during the '60s, while a resident in Los Angeles. After a one-woman show in Los Angeles, her work found its way into the office of finance minister and deputy prime minister Shimon Peres and the War Memorial Yad le-Banim, Raanana, Israel (among the tallest sculptures in Israel). Yet, Goor admits: "My serious stuff was very difficult to sell. Only collectors bought it."
Instead, popular success has come through the sculptural metal furniture collection she began creating five years ago. Its rugged, archeological surfaces are the right look at the right time (coffee tables with modernist polished chrome bases are out of style and "natural" finishes such as verdigris, rusty iron and bronze are in). Goor's popularity also coincides with a revived interest in art nouveau ; the vinelike spirals embellishing her pieces evoke the lush tangle of tendrils typifying the work of Tiffany or Hector Guimard (who did the beloved entrances to the Paris Metro). Says Goor: "My pieces look organic, as if they're growing. Everything is a little asymmetrical."
Far from scheming to cash in on current trends, however, Goor came by her look naturally. In need of furnishings for her 400-year-old house in Jaffa, Israel, Goor took inspiration from the in-progress renovation. She fashioned the frame for a glass-topped porch table, for instance, from pieces of concrete reinforcing bars. To exploit her house's dramatic view overlooking the Mediterranean, she created a lounge chair that evokes the characteristics of a rickety old deck chair at a seaside resort. "Friends would see the pieces and ask for one for their own house. Then came requests for lamps, tea carts and beds," she recalls. Goor embellishes her pieces with spookily realistic bronze birds, frogs, snails, turtles, rabbits, pigeons, eagles, cats and dogs. They mimic the creatures who would congregate on her terrace in the morning. As the sun rose in the sky and the day grew hotter, the animals would leave to seek shade. Missing them, she sculpted substitutes.