You are now visiting our Global professional lighting website, visit your local website by going to the USA website

More brands from

Jonathan Groswasser

Light is an essential part of architecture

 jonathan groswasser, lighting designer, yashar architects

Jonathan Groswasser

Yashar Architects

Tel Aviv, Israel


Interview by Denise Close, Jean-Luc Wittersheim

Jonathan Groswasser, partner at Yashar Architects, takes his inspiration from the Modern and International style of Tel Aviv, as well as from 1960s New York. His practice is one of the largest in Israel and works as far afield as Israel and Romania.
Jonathan Groswasser  © Cédric Helsly
BMW Mini Showroom, Tel Aviv, Israel © Yashar Architects

How and when did you get started in architecture?

Jonathan Groswasser: I'm one of the partners and senior team leader of Yashar Architects. I'm a graduate of the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) university in Israel and did my masters in urban design at the University of California in Berkeley in 1998. I was lucky to live in Tel Aviv, which has undergone incredible growth and development in the last two decades. I've been working with Yashar for the past 25 years. 

What are the aims of your architecture practice? Of which of your architectural achievements are you most proud? 

Yashar Architects is one of the largest architectural practices in Israel and going through tremendous growth. 

I've co-designed numerous buildings along with the principal architect and owner, Avner Yashar, in Israel and around the world. One of the most note-worthy is the biggest R&D development site for Apple outside the U.S., which is in Israel. Now we're designing a 45,000 square-meter R&D center with Microsoft in Israel. We have done quite a few residential and office towers. At the moment we're designing the tallest building in Israel at 110 storeys. So, there is lots of work, and it’s interesting. We've worked in India, Russia, Cyprus, Serbia, Hungary, Romania…

Our design is focused on "place making": we try to achieve architecture that is beautiful and efficient, and to create a building that has a sense of place. 

A project that seemed good several years ago might not work today.”

How have you kept your knowledge up‐to‐date? 

We are a young company; we try to ask ourselves relevant questions each time. A project that seemed good several years ago might not work today. 

What is the creative environment in Israel for an architect?

Tel Aviv is a Mecca for Modern and International style architecture; it is an opportunity to present freedom of thought in architecture and not be constrained to a particular style. 

One of the difficulties that we have is a lack of land; it's a very dense country, and this leads to the need for a lot of high-rise and mixed-use buildings. Density means that these buildings will have a large amount of retail on the lower floors of the new office towers. Developments often have residential and office towers built side by side. There's a big challenge in incorporating all the elements in these building clusters while making them pleasant and functional spaces with a sense of place. There is now more money being invested in architecture and spent on design and architecture at all levels. And clients achieve higher rents in those office buildings. 

BMW Mini Showroom, Tel Aviv, Israel - Yashar Architects - IDEA lighting designers © Cédric Helsly

What are your sources of inspiration?

To give you an example, when we did the BMW Mini Showroom in Tel Aviv, we were inspired by New York's modernist buildings from the sixties, which had open plans with visible big lit ceilings, the basic sixties modern buildings of New York. This is not the concept of the Barcelona Pavilion or a modernist villa but the idea of actually bringing the modernist intensity of New York to Israel. We were inspired by the light feel and the revolutionary idea of open-plan offices and their relationship with a modern-style building. The open plan was a totally new and revolutionary idea of how people work in offices and it was liberating, a large open space with tall ceilings. We wanted to recreate that atmosphere in a showroom, of a building that projects intensity and activity throughout the entire day. 
Light is an essential part of architecture and it brings out its essence.”

What are the most important factors in lighting architecture? 

Light is an essential part of architecture and it brings out its essence. Architecture is the play of light and shade. For example, for the BMW Mini Showroom project in Tel Aviv, we were looking for very soft ambient light, very evenly spread, and not challenging, competing or interfering with the architecture of the building. We wanted to keep the feeling of open space, very much in the spirit of the architecture of the building, with the ceiling evenly and purely lit. We liked the comprehensive quality of this product that met our needs.
The lighting of this building created a lot of vertical and horizontal planes. When you think about modernist architecture, it's very much about light and shape. Now these planes are being lit, and creating a free flowing space in the building.

What is there that is not yet possible in lighting architecture but that you would like to see in the future? 

In future I'd like to be able to create complete external surfaces, which light up and create whole light planes, with more interaction by and with visitors.
Interview published in Luminous issue 21



Be the first to receive exclusive news and stay up-to-date on lighting projects plus training, tools and innovations on Pioneers of light


Architects, interior architects, landscape architects, lighting designers, consulting engineers, get in touch with us for your project.

Specifier website

Visit the site >