Design as a fundamental tool to learnannelys
Biyi Zhu (CN), Sandberg Instituut Master student in Design, participant of the 2016 create-shop, wrote about her experiences:
I rethink the two weeks of the create-shop with great passion. I continued working on the prototypes that I made in Palestine and started to organize almost 100-gigabyte of pictures and videos that I took during the journey. Browsing them, they bring me back to Ramallah through the people vividly smiling and the shining streets during sunset. It was my first time to visit the Middle East, and I came to Palestine without any expectation. I relied on my curiosity to capture every single moment in this on many ways also magic place. But the thing I did first, was to disarm myself from the media-images and to re-learn from the Palestinians.
Curiosity is the key to understanding, I comprehend the meaning of benevolence. It teaches me about the world and provokes me to think in different angles. With my curiosity and humbleness, it turned out to be relatively easy to work with the craftsmen in Ramallah, even though their English was often very limited. One of the participants of our create-shop, a woman called Bushra, attracted my attention particularly. She is only one year younger than me but is already a mother of two kids. A bit to my surprise, we have pleasant conversations all the time. For both of us, these moments become the happiest ones. We seem to have a lot of similarities, but the daily reality she is confronted with is shaping her conditions beyond my imagination. Her biggest worry that perplexes her for a long time relates to the Palestinian law. Because she is divorced from the father of her children, Bushra, will loose her fostering rights of her six-year-old daughter after she turns thirteen. According to Palestinian law, her daughter is then obliged to move to her former husband, while their son has the right to choose between parents. This means that Bushra can no longer take care of her daughter then, and possibly hardly even see her. And since it’s the law, she cannot appeal this. If this is the reality, this must also influence many other mothers, and thus society.
During the createshop, we kept sharing our ideas about the rights of women and also how we can adapt our own stories towards useful designs. We questioned how to transfer Bushra’s experiences to a new product, which became a challenge and impetus. After some days, Bushra came with a beautiful idea to make a bag using the concept of a children’s game, presenting the separation of a mother and daughter. The bag is made by a Palestinian traditional way of wicker.
Together with other participants, we eat and play together, and even celebrate my birthday. I have the best, unforgettable and incomparable experiences. Everyone is bright and energetic, and it makes me forget about an occupation. Meeting an individual makes it impossible to see reality black and white. However, isn’t that also the effect that art and design provide us? Art and design won’t present how we can live easily, rather they make us aware of how complicated our worlds are. I assume this is also what Disarming Design from Palestine wants to pass to the public through their products. Via local designed goods they focus on individual stories. This makes us understand the value and strength of our differences and avoids us thinking in black and white. Definitely, it is one of the most valuable lessons in my life; it has taught me to use design as a fundamental tool to learn from the world.