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Yifat Anzelevich portrait with glasses

Alumni Spotlight: Yifat Anzelevich

Jul 23 2019

This summer, we caught up with Yifat Anzelevich MFAD ‘02 to discuss her start-up Toya and to reflect on her time at MFA Design.

Yifat, Tell us about your professional journey?

I completed my bachelor’s degree at Vital in Tel Aviv and immediately after graduating I moved to New York to study without really knowing where. I was lucky to choose the right program SVA MFA Design. I spent the first year after graduating from the program working for Kiehl’s and it was a fascinating year.

When I decided to return to Israel, it was clear to me that I would pay a professional price, you can’t compare the design scene in New York to the one in Tel Aviv. I decided to move back home because I saw my life in Israel, but I do miss New York. I was very lucky to be able to open my own studio in the heart of Tel Aviv as soon as I got back. Over the years the studio expanded and I am very proud of my team and everything we do. 

Yes, we are all women and it’s the best. We work on projects from a lot of different areas and we’re constantly challenging ourselves. I think working in different fields and multiple clients prevents us from falling into a comfort zone. My agenda for the studio is to constantly take our customers to the next level.

Three years ago, I founded a start-up company, Toya, with my partner Anat Shperling. Anat was my client for more than 10 years before we began working together. Toya was set up to bring social impact and change the opportunity map for our girls. We are a multi-platform content creator, partnering with the biggest IP’s to develop digital games and media for girls and women in a non-stereotypical way.

This adventure has developed more than we ever expected. The daily challenges are enormous. We work not only on the design, but, also the production, development, fundraising and other fields which I was never exposed to. The workload is almost impossible but I enjoy it every moment.

What are some of your recent, favorite, most challenging, or most interesting projects?

I think there are two different things: In the studio it is the global branding for Teva, a pharmaceutical company, besides the design aspect the implementation of the branding into a huge organization it’s hard mission. The biggest challenge is to create an original, fresh and innovative branding to a conservative pharmaceutical company, which we’ve been working on for a few years now.

The second challenge I face is how to turn an idea into a start-up company; product, fundraising, investors, technological challenges, global team management and of course design. New worlds that are different to what I know. The use of technology and especially its limitations are an inseparable part of the design and we still have to create products that will be different and innovative. It’s a daily challenge, yet on the other side there is also tremendous satisfaction.

Which designers do you admire most nowadays?

Sagmeister & Walsh, Here Design, Hey Studio and Tibor Kalman

How do you stay inspired? 

Nowadays, it’s easy to stay updated with social media, which gives us daily updates on everything that happens in the design world and in general.

Traveling to different destinations is something I do very often, so every new place is a new source of inspiration for me. Every trip, even if it’s a work trip, is always a break from my home, my children and my everyday life, it allows me to step out from my daily routine and let new worlds to come in.

Through a good book, interesting exhibitions, street touring or food I am able to see things in a new way. I also try to go to the beach at least once a week, it gives me the fresh air I need and opens my mind.

Over the past three years, I’ve been thinking about the mark I will leave behind me. How can I make a difference using my design skills, something more meaningful than a successful branding project?

I think that this sense of meaning started when I was a student at SVA, but, evolved over the years and made me understand where I really want to be an influence. This understanding comes with a huge price, but also with great satisfaction and fulfillment. I think each of us can leave a mark. You just need to pick your point of interest, and I picked mine, I want to create a world of equality for my daughter and other girls.

What advice would you give incoming students?

I believe that the program made me who I am today as a designer and as a person; built in me the confidence and power to give back to the world as a designer and in general. It was not easy, I worked like crazy in and outside of the program to provide for myself, but what I got in return was worth every second. The program, in my opinion, is not something to simply check off your checklist, but something that you must take with both hands and give it everything you have, as it will pay off.

What is your favorite part of the MFA Design program?

I have to admit that it was many years ago and the program certainly changed a lot since I was a student…. In the first year you are exposed to so many wonderful and diverse courses and in the second year you have to take that treasure and apply it to a product that can exist in the real world and be useful to someone. For me, this path started in NY but it continues until this very day.

Our program has multidisciplinary approach. How has that helped you?

I think this concept brings great interests to the group. A very important part of all design studies is the process within the group, the discussions and thoughts we share in the classroom. The fact that everyone come from different artistic worlds brings much more than a graphic solution, it gives a different and fascinating depth and perspective that finally takes all the students forward.

If you could choose a thesis topic today, what would you pick?

I have no doubt that today I want to make a social change, and so it is clear to me that the subject I would choose would have something to do with that. Maybe I would choose subjects that affect our children, something I could do to make something better in their world. On the other hand, my work at TOYA can definitely be the subject of my thesis.