Dajani: I want to create something out of my cultureTeresa Palieri
An interview with Ghadeer Dajani, 2014 Create-Shop participant and production manager for Disarming Design since 2016. By Teresa Palmiri
TP: Can you briefly introduce yourself and how you got in contact with ‘Disarming Design from Palestine’?
GD: My name is Ghadeer Dajani and I am an interior designer working now as a freelancer. I got to know that Disarming Design was hosting a workshop in Jerusalem through a friend of mine at Al-Ma’mal foundation for Contemporary Art, and so I applied for it and joined the team.
And why did you first got interested in what Disarming Design from Palestine does?
I have always questioned myself why we don’t have more innovative products on the Palestinian market, products that we can actually use in our everyday life. More times I have also questioned myself on why our products fit more in a museum rather than the contemporary environment we live our lives in. Another concern for me has always been to understand the reason why it is so difficoult to find 100% made Palestinian products.
The local production of functional goods is what I found most relevant in Disarming Design and the reason why I participated in the 2015 Jerusalem ‘Createshop’. Basically I want to create something out of my culture, done locally by Palestinian artisans and suitable for daily modern life that is not a copy of what we can already find in the market.
When you first started to develop your products, was there something that you speifically wanted to communicate about Palestine?
On the market you see our heritage being used with a sort of ‘Copy-Paste’ attitude and this is why after some time, the products became outdated, repetitive and not responsive to the fast changing of contemporary societies we live in. The same goes also for the design of the products; stiking a piece of embroidery on an object is not enough to make it stand out as a Palestinian item and the narration behind the product becomes weaker anad not be perceivable by other people. Today, with technology, everything changes so fast and so sudden, we need to be able to act upon what is happening around us. The beauty of the past needs to be reinvented according to the possibilities and necessities we have today, in a creative and well thought way.
In one of your designs you worked with the sounds of Jerusalem. Can you tell more about why this interested you so much?
The first thing I recall when I think of Jerusalem are its sounds; of the old city, the market, the walk to reach different places. Since I am a kid the sounds of Jerusalem have never changed, they remained intact. Sounds are able to narrate the atmosphere and what is happening around you; the bread (Ka’ek) seller, the carob juice squeazer, the coffee grider, the sound of people walking, they tell the cities vibrant life. These very specific Jerusalem sounds allow you to create a relationship with the city. If the sounds of Jerusalem will disappear, it won’t be itself anymore, but another city.
During the workshop you worked in collaboration with other designers, did you found this way of working relevant for you?
Collaboration was something very important for me. On one side I appreciated the collaboration with the internationals, because they were here for the first time. Looking through their eyes was very interesting for me. I wanted to understand the things they noticed and hear their comments, especially because their mind is full of the media images of Palestine that isn’t necessarily the Palestine they are seeing after their short visit. This opened interesting dialogues.
On the other side it was very interesting to share our skills and our practical experiences. I found the way the international participants related to a project different from what I am used to. I think it has to do with the fact that how design is being taught in Europe is far more developed and advanced in comparison to what we have here in the country. It was interesting to start from a concept, from a necessary story to be told to arrive to a product, rather than the other way around.
During the Disarming Design create-shop you worked in close collaboration with local craftsmen, how did you liked it and do you normally use local knowledge in the development of your projects?
It was kind of a circle, I could not have produced anything without the work of the artisans, and they could not developed it without me. At first I showed them what I wanedt to do. Later, through negotiation, we found solutions together, face to face. But is also important to see how craftsmen work in order to understand what the possibilities are and what can become possible. Through the workshop I created a lots of connections that I for sure will use in the future.
(Interview by Teresa Palmieri)