Amit Zakoon’s flower business started with a seed — literally — but it quickly grew into one of Jerusalem’s premier purveyors of luxury sukkahs. “We work for all the rich and famous,” Zakoon, the owner and CEO of Yarok Yarok Events Design, says.
Studio Ya Ya, as Zakoon’s clients call the business, is known for designing weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, and parties for Jerusalem’s A-list, including visiting U.S. presidents (from Bush to Obama) to big-time philanthropists like the Bronfmans.
These kinds of upscale events may keep Zakoon and team busy year-round, but Sukkot is Studio Ya Ya’s time to shine. Studio Ya Ya designs many of Jerusalem’s largest and finest sukkahs, including those at the Waldorf Astoria, King David, and Inbal hotels, as well as the president’s residence and the Bible Lands Museum. Over the years, its sukkahs have ranged from “biblical” — incorporating natural woods and fresh Jerusalem herbs — to elegant, featuring strategically placed plastic pomegranates painted in metallic shades.
Such luxury doesn’t come cheap: Hotels pay $35,000 to $75,000 for their Ya Ya sukkahs, Zakoon said, while design services for private clients range from $3,000 to $25,000.
“The sukkahs must be the most magnificent,” he said. “All the rich and famous come to the hotels, they come to their private second homes in Jerusalem, and this holiday is one of the most important to them.”
For Zakoon and his team, that means the pressure is on. In addition to creating a visually stunning sukkah, the designers need to understand both the philosophical background of the holiday and the legal requirements that will yield a kosher sukkah that will be acceptable to even the most religious guests.
“We can make an amazing design, but if it’s not kosher, it’s not worth one shekel,” Zakoon said.
Studio Ya Ya designs and maintains as many as 20 sukkahs — ranging in size from nine to 4,900 square feet.
Am important consideration is repeat customers. Because hotels tend to get the same visitors year after year, Ya Ya aims for a fresh design annually.
Also, each of the hotel’s sukkahs must be unique and match the hotel’s existing ambiance.
“The Waldorf is luxurious and the King David is traditional,” she said.
JTA Wire Service