“People don’t sew for hours at a time anymore. Most people use their machines for quick minor repairs—to hem a pair of pants or to refasten a button,” Tel Aviv-based designer Itay Potash says. The 26-year-old was awarded top honors last September by the Manufacturers Association of Israel for Flat Mode, a prototype sewing machine that folds down to the size of a laptop computer, making it easy to carry and store.
Made of aluminum, stainless steel, plastic, and rubber, the compact machine was Potash’s final project at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, from which he graduated just eight months ago. After noticing that most sewing machines are relatively old-fashioned in that they are cumbersome and difficult to thread, he decided to streamline the design to be more compatible with the way people use them today.
Potash’s fascination with sewing machines developed during childhood, when he would sit and watch his grandfathers, both of whom were tailors, work at heavy industrial machines. “I was very curious about them because they were so complex. Five different systems would come together to make a simple stitch,” he recalls. But some might argue that the latest digital models—loaded with hundreds of preprogrammed stitch features—are no easier to maneuver. “That’s why I’m trying to make one that is as simple and user-friendly as possible,” Potash says.
Flat Mode has only four buttons: an up/down button, a second for selecting a program, another for setting stitch parameters, and the last for resetting the machine. A digital display indicates the selected settings. When the user is finished with the task at hand, he or she simply folds the tubular arm in and then down, and places the machine in a protective bag along with its pedal (not shown), which may be equipped with wireless Bluetooth technology. Potash is now working with a manufacturer to mass-produce Flat Mode and hopes to see his lightweight model in production within the year.