Blog Inspiring Jewish Faces:
If you’ve been to New York, you’ve likely stopped for a falafel at Maoz, an internationally famous vegetarian joint with world class interior design that makes people stop for just a minute and think, “Am I really eating a cheap sandwich right now? Because this place is gorgeous!”
And if you’ve had that feeling, it’s because Joseph Ben Joseph poured his heart into the modern design. Ben Joseph, a 44 year old Israeli immigrant now living and working in Manhattan, has been designing some of New York’s most iconic restaurant spaces for years and his story is just as rich and vibrant as the dining spaces he creates.
He’s a transplant from the fashion world in Israel, only studying interior design well into adulthood at Sapir College in the early 2000s. He moved to New York shortly after finishing design school to move onto a less expected course of study— Yeshiva. He had already developed the technical skill set for beautiful design, but knew that his studying would never be complete without having a deep set of spiritual roots.
“I’m very happy that I’ve combined my artistic life and spiritual life together,” says Ben Joseph of his study path. “Today I’m a cantor in the Sephardic Synagogue within the 5th Avenue Synagogue. I have been for four years already. My goal is to improve people’s lives, and I like to think I do that by creating beautiful spaces but also by sharing spiritual wisdom from the Torah. To improve our way our thinking with the belief in something that is bigger than us is the beginning of improving everything. We are not alone.”
He is also the creative design mind behind popular Midtown spots like Soomsoom, Filicori, Wrapido, and Pitopia— a list that puts him ahead as the top sandwich spot designer in a city of 8 million lunch eaters.
“I don’t stop my work at restaurants. I design business identities and total brands, and I do it from a place of wanting to a create a better world inside and out. Our connection to something bigger inspires our material work, and I love that Judaism teaches action, understanding, and education because these are the ways to achieve every goal.”
When meeting Joseph Ben Joseph, sure, you find a creative man— but within minutes of knowing him you see that his every action is carefully measured, his speech is gentle and encouraging, but firm enough to let you know when you’re missing the mark. “People don’t really have time for anything these days. My dream is that every Jewish person can make the time for one day a week at synagogue to listen, read Kabbalistic wisdom, or just go out and make the world much better.”