DISARMING DESIGNERS

Sherida Kuffour is a Graphic Designer and Illustrator from The Netherlands, where she currently studies an MA in Design at the Sandberg Instituut. As a multi-disciplinary designer, with experience in publishing, navigational design and branding, strategic approaches to projects and brand developments ensure a thorough and critical work process.

www.sheridakuffour.com

"As a designer, social and political subjects are my main interest. In my design process, I look at current situations and I speculate how that situation could have been different. It is not so much a working method as an attitude and a critical perspective. In every subject I search for a way to confront the public with a dilemma. In this confrontation I hope to challenge the public to think in a different way about the subject. I want them to question whether or not the scenario is real and serious or fictitious and ironic. A speculative attitude helps me in constructing a narrative about this possible present or future situation." (From ARNHEMSE NIEUWE 20x20 talk 2015)

www.asjakeeman.com

As a designer and researcher Rebekka Fries monitors and frames, disconnected world views produced by mass and social media. Recently graduated with a Master in Design: Visual Strategies at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam and currently based in Rotterdam.

www.rebekkafries.nl

Product & Interior designer

Nour Nshweiat is the founder and designer of N Products, with 10 years of experience in home furnishing and product design. N Products are recycling abandoned items into home furniture and useful products. ‘Products with stories’ is the slogan of N products.

Artist & Designer

Aya Abu Ghazaleh received her bachelor's degree in visual arts from The University of Jordan in 2013 with honor.
She has participated in a number of group exhibitions in: Amman design Week, 
I:OArt Residence Bahçecik Izmit, Turkey, Palestinian art court/ Jerusalem , Naila gallery/ Ryiadah, Cairo-Amman, Bank Gallery, The Spring Sessions, Fondazione Cini/ Venice, The Lab/ DaratAlfunon, University of Jordan Library, Nabad Gallery, The Studio.

www.ayaabughazaleh.weebly.com

Designer Nadira Alaraj and the Kattan family silversmiths do incredible work in Bethlehem. The silver zaytouna jewelry features handcrafted olive leaves from sterling silver. Designers pick the olive leaves and cast them to create unique molds. Every single silver leaf is individually formed from a mold that is only used once, rendering unique, one-of-a-kind leaves.

www.mohammedmusallam.com

Mohammed Musallam was born in Gaza in 1974 after his family had been dislocated from the historic Palestine as a consequent of the 1948 war.
He holds a PhD in philosophy of Fine Arts, Painting Department, Fine Arts College, Minia University, Egypt. He currently resides in Gaza and works there as a lecturer of “Painting and the History of Palestinian Arts” at the College of Arts, Al Aqsa University.

From his first steps as a university student he became greatly influenced by the abstract art processes and approaches.
In his Art, he focuses on portraying a range of humanistic issues, which go beyond the limitations imposed by any prevailing time-related matters, which may be oppressive and persistent simultaneously. At the same time, he concentrates on conveying the notion of the preservation of our humaneness amid the harshness of our environment as one of the most important reasons for our existence.

eltiqa.com
emergeast.com

Born in Al Bureij refugee camp, Gaza, 1975. After studying Computer Science in the Islamic University in Gaza, Raed turned to the fine arts, taking courses in mural painting, drawing and oil painting. He has had two solo exhibitions in Ramallah and has contributed to several group exhibitions in Palestine, Jordan, Switzerland and Australia, including the traveling exhibition in France of 10 young Palestinian artists (2003-04). In 2002 he won a Distinction Award in the A M Qattan Foundation Young Artists Award. He was invited to the 2003 Braziers International Artists Workshop in the UK. Lives in Al Bureij and works in Gaza City.

www.ayyamgallery.com
berlinbiennale.de

With photographs, videos, installations, films, and performative interventions focused on his native Palestine, multidisciplinary artist Khaled Jarrar explores the sociocultural impact of modern-day power struggles on ordinary citizens. The everyday subjects of Jarrar’s reflective work are contextualised in ways that draw attention to the severity of the issues he examines, giving the political content of his art greater significance while underscoring the autobiographical nature of his chosen themes.

Born in Jenin in 1976, Khaled Jarrar lives and works in Ramallah, Palestine. Jarrar completed his education in Interior Design at the Palestine Polytechnic University in 1996 and later graduated from the International Academy of Art Palestine with a Bachelor in Visual Arts degree in 2011. The following year, his documentary The Infiltrators (2012) won several accolades at the 9th Annual Dubai International Film Festival, and confirmed his importance in global cinema.

Mohamed is an artist and designer born in Gaza in 1983, working in art and crafts especially manuscripts and woodwork. and also running art workshops with the kids. Interested in producing art pieces of used materials and turn them into useful and meaningful pieces.

Ghadeer is a Palestinian interior designer based in Jerusalem. In this moment she is part of the Disarming Design Team as Production Manager.

"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."
(From the interview with Ghadeer Dajani December 2015)

 

Shaimaa Hassanein is an artist and designer from Gaza, graduate of the Faculty of Fine Arts in 2016, interested in drawing portraiture and Model, work with children and youth in art and murals painting workshops.

Majal is an artist based in Gaza. She gained her BA degree in Fine Arts from Al-Aqsa University. Since 2009, she has participated in several group exhibitions, such as the “Qurban” exhibition at the Women Media Information Center and “Canaanite” exhibitions at the French Cultural Center in Gaza. She has also participated in a number of auctions; the annual Jerusalem auction in 2009 and ‘Colors of Hope’ in 2010 and 2011. Her work has been exhibited in a number of collective international exhibitions: she presented “40 Days of My Life” in Germany, and has contributed to exhibitions in Jordan, Belgium and Italy. She has had two solo exhibitions, “Salt of Memory” in 2012 and “The Effect of Light and Glass” in 2014 in Gaza.

www.palart.ps

Sohail is a graphic designer and artist from Gaza. He is co-founder of Eltiqua Group for Contemporary Arts, where in 2014 he has been a supervisor in a program for contemporary arts.

www.ibrahimmuhtadi.com
Ibrahim Muhtadi is a Palestinian architect living in Gaza. Being an architect has given him the opportunity to both observe and practice the principles of art and design, and leading naturally to the pursuit of design work outside architecture. He has many interests in the home accessories design, Arabic calligraphy design, graphic design and jewelry design. Muhtadi inspired by the authenticity and the beauty of the Arabic Calligraphy. His talent and passion for creative expression has led him to shift his design skills from the sketches on the paper to the unique and original pieces of jewellery and arts.

Monika is a Latvian designer based is Amsterdam currently studying at the Think Tank for Visual Strategies master program of the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam.

Areej is an artist and designer based in Jerusalem, currently studying at Bezel Academy of Art and Design.

"Actually I think that Palestinians are always afraid of doing things they think they are forbidden to do. They think they are forbidden of most of the things, as a state of mind, then it comes out that actually nobody cares. This is something that we as Palestinians must change in our mindset. You can’t live being always scared and nervous. We have to start to make things, being confident about ourselves, our projects and desires."

Hein van Duppen is a Dutch designer currently enrolled in the Studio for Immediate space master program at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam. His work explores the intersections of design, architecture and urban planning.

www.heinvanduppen.nl

BirteVeenkamp is a Dutch designer based in Amsterdam, currently enrolled in the Think Tank for Visual Strategies master program of the Sandberg Institute.

Vivien Sansour is a life style writer, producer, and photographer. She has been capturing the stories of Palestinian farmers for the wider world. Trained in the field of Anthropology Vivien worked with farmers in Honduras, Uruguay, and Palestine on issues relating to agriculture and independence. In the last three years while living with Producer communities in the Northern West Bank villages she created a series of producer and village profiles published in her book, “Insisting on Life: A Community at Work” which was developed for Canaan Fair Trade. In these 36 profiles of people and communities she wrote about agricultural practices and how they relate to cultural traditions providing an ethnographic overview of rural life in Palestine. She has produced several short films and one feature film, “The People and the Olive” which received high acclaim from critics including the Boston Globe’s Loren King who called the film, “An inspirational thriller.” The People and The Olive was the official selection for several film festivals including, Chicago International Social Change film festival and the Unspoken Human Rights film festival.

Tommi Vasko is a Finish designer based in Amsterdam. He studied at the Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam (Masters Rietveld Academie).

AUTHENTICITY

When a European design student wants to experience authentic night out in Ramallah or in Bethlehem, there are two basic options: one can ask a local to recommend a Palestinian restaurant, order hummus, falafels, shawarma, turkish salad and other local dishes and drink freshly squeezed juice or local Taybeh beer. Or, one can go to one of the restaurants serving non-Palestinian food, drink a Carlsberg or a Coke while a mix of local and western pop-music is playing in the background.

While the former option might offer an opportunity to taste the traditional cuisine, it doesn’t mean that the latter would be anyhow less genuine or ‘real’. Nor that one or the other would authentic for all for the same reasons. Or that authenticity would be anyhow objective. So, to be able to conscious about what’s behind this decision, I believe it’s important —at least for me— to examine and open up the notion of authenticity a little bit. On Saturday morning, while one part of the group went to Northern parts of Palestine to see the Qalandiya zoo, I decided to spend the morning walking in the old part of Bethlehem. I came across this arabic market not far from the main square; just a narrow alley and stairs left from the main/oldest street of the city. Narrow alleys with tarps hanging above to provide a bit of shade were crowded already in the morning. Fruit and vegetable stalls, spices, first- and second hand clothing, household stuff, electronics and plastic, basically everything is sold here. Already from far away you could see that most of the things were made in China. The fruits and vegetables however, without labels, rather ripe and unperfect, were certainly cultivated not too far away from here.

If one thinks authenticity as something geographical, something related to soil and the place, the fruits and vegetables in this market had a stronger aura of authenticity than the almost universal made-in-China stuff (it’s more authentic to eat hummus in the middle east than it is in Europe). But at the same time it’s at least as authentic to see Chinese products in the Middle East as it is in Europe.

Later in Ramallah, when the European design student decides to go for a drink to a clean and trendy Mexican restaurant or to hyped Octoberfest in newly opened five star Mövenpick Hotel (or both!), the authenticity is rather cultural. And cultures change. It’s an experience about a moment, people and the global cultural environment. And floating in the Dead sea in lotus position the day after, the experience is again all about the exceptional environment: full-body mud masks and the sea and western pop-music and Nestle ice cream.

tommivasko.nl

Tessel Brühl is a Dutch designer based in Amsterdam, where she attended the master in Think Tank for visual Strategies at the Sandberg Instituut (Master Rietveld Academie). She makes clothing, objects, performances and short films to change, disturb and highlight unconscious structures in society.

OLIVE TREE

I love trees; I love my olive trees; my trees; have feelings; when I stand; on the ground; with their roots; under my feet
we feel each other
our roots
hold strong
and silently
in the earth
no one
will move us
my trees
are one
three
and eight
years old
my trees
are like
my children
I couldn’t live
without them
I eat the olives
the oil
the seeds
become beads
the wood
heats my house
and
the leaves
spread this story

www.tesselbruhl.nl

Rudy J. Luijters is a Dutch artist and beekeeper living and working in Brussels and Gouvy, Belgium. His work consistently attests to a strongly analytical (phenomenological) and conceptual approach. Research into cultural signs in the broadest sense of the word is an essential part of his work and also its goal at times.

GREAT REVOLUTION

As a half Palestinian half Czech designer, I always saw my point of view in design of taking the traditional Palestinian heritage and presenting it in a new “European” way. My aesthetic has always driven me to plunge into designs incorporating symbols typical of Palestine or calligraphy. When I was invited to take part on this project I had no idea what I was going to do, and I enjoyed brainstorming and hanging out with the various designers; seeing my native city Bethlehem through their eyes. My biggest realization was that as much as I looked through my European part upon my Palestinian heritage and surrounding I would never be able to see what they saw —despite the fact that I lived abroad for more than 10 years. This realization drove me to design what I call the “identity collection” or series, which start from a finger print telling the story of each Palestinian carrying a hawwyieh (Palestinian ID card) having to pass the checkpoint, to olive wood heel platform sandals decorated with the Palestinian kuffiyeh, and beautiful colorful happy mosaic and clay map of Palestine rings. All in referral to how this journey helped me realize that I will always see Palestine, and always refer to it in my work, through my Palestinian eyes, because that is who I am, that is my identity.

I am very grateful for all the people whom I met throughout this journey, many have been so helpful and patient with me and taught me new things, which helped my ideas and work come to life. Some of the artisans were a revelation to me, as I stumbled upon them like upon a treasure chest in a desert. I was so inspired by the many personalities and stories I have encountered in those short two weeks, and I loved every bit of it. The workshop has inspired me to do so much more and work with new materials, as well as taken me to far away cities in Palestine like Qalqilya and Tulkarem —which are hard for me to reach otherwise.

I hope this project will bring a lot of opportunities to the local artisans we worked with, as they work hard every day and are undervalued. I am stunned at their craftsmanship and modesty and hope that this is only the beginning of a great revolution on the local handmade goods market! 

Moniek Driesse is a research based designer in arts and architecture. She considers art and design as powerful tools to catalyze dialogue on political, social and cultural issues. From her interest in working at the boundaries of disciplines, she works in diverse projects, increasingly focused on artistic practice and architecture in contexts of conflict, and the development of tools for dialogue and activism. Within those (self initiated) projects she utilizes design, curating, publishing and education, to create a cohesive practice that connects arts, politics, (social) science and daily reality. Therefore she collaborates with fellow professionals, foundations, cultural institutions, universities, and, most of all, the potential users. Their stories, questions, wishes and needs are the main source of inspiration; the reality to act upon.

www.moniekdriesse.nl

Mirte van Duppen is a Dutch designer, researcher and visual artist. She studied Graphic Design at ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in Arnhem (BA Design) and graduated from the Design Department, alias Think Tank for Visual Strategies, of the Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam (MA Design).

In her work she analyses the function, interrelations and transformative powers of urban landscapes and the human interaction with these landscapes. With her intuitive and at the same time really precise way of documenting she shows, reveals and evokes something from the viewer. Through direct interaction with these landscapes, and their underlying (un)-written rules, functions, history, and their users, she explores the terrain between fieldwork and storytelling.

mirtevanduppen.nl

Martin Petrelli is an Italian designer and documentarian who has spent most of her life in flux, moving from one country to another. In her travels, she has developed a keen eye for collecting, recording and archiving. In collaboration with Donna Verheijden she filmed a documentary, The House of the Eyes, in the West Bank during the fist Palestinian Art biennale which also coincided with the latest attacks in Gaza.

www.martinapetrelli.com

Mark-Jan van Tellingen is an Amsterdam based Dutch designer, who studied at the Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam (Masters Rietveld Academie).

Report of one day during the create-shop 2013: RUMBLING MACHINES

Rumbling machines, steady hands, and hospitality would summarize todays Wonderland. After half an hour drive we arrived in Hebron were we would spend most of our day. When entering the city a warning sign welcomed us ‘No entry for Israelis, entry illegal by israeli law’, as if it was Area 51. In Hebron, the biggest city in Palestine considering the 170.000 inhabitants of H1 and H2, our first stop would be the ceramic and glass workshop. After a quick tour we wandered around the place, admiring the craftsmen that were blowing glass and gracefully decorating pottery. The ease with which they made their glass products was fascinating to see. With the options in mind some of us started painting or collecting ideas for possible products. Several tourists and interested people entered the workshop on and off and were shown around, for a while making it look like an artisan showroom. Our next stop was The Hirbawi Keffiyeh Factory “Raise your keffiyeh, Raise it” as Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf sings in “Ali Keffiyeh”. The rumbling sounds of weaving machines slowly came towards us when entering the factory. In the entrance hall a big bedouin tent was implemented as a business meeting point. Two man were keeping a close eye on the keffiyeh during the manufacturing process, removing the threads that were superfluous. The factory, operational since 1961, annually produced 150.000 scarfs until the early 1990s. “Today, due to the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords and the opening of trade with the outside world, only four machines remain in operation producing a mere 10,000 scarves a year. Not one of these scarves are exported, as overseas suppliers produce mass quantities at a fraction of the price, and the shrinking Palestinian economy and Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks create further hindrances to production and trade for small businesses like Mr. Hirbawi’s. In Mr. Hirbawi’s own words: My machines are in good shape. They can start working tomorrow. I just need a market.”

In the office factory several keffiyehs were bought either for personal use or for artistic purposes. After we filled our bags with the Palestinian symbol of all symbols, Maher Shaheen — one of the participants — invited us to his house for a tea and a sweet arabic coffee. It was a perfect closure of the day being invited into the intimacy of a palestinian family. 

www.markjanvantellingen.nl

Majd Abdel Hamid is a Palestinian visual artist based in Ramallah. He hopes Disarming Design’s collaborations will give Palestinian visual heritage a tool to reflect its deeper current realities. ‘It’s something we don’t have within the Palestinian community, design as a discourse. People mainly develop things on their own here. We’re kind of in a static limbo, we’re stuck with symbols, we’re stuck with the Palestinian map, we’re stuck with Handala… This is an opportunity to actually recreate something and have our own form of deconstructionism, not for the sake of deconstruction itself, but rather to rethink our national symbols and our visual narrative." Majd was the coordinator of Disarming Design in 2012 and 2013.

Khaled Hourani is a Palestinian artist, curator, and art critic. He is the initiator of the project Picasso in Palestine. He attained a BA in History from Hebron University and was awarded the title of Cultural Management Trainer by Al Mawred Culture Resource and the European Cultural Foundation (Egypt). He has had several solo exhibitions locally and internationally and participates frequently in-group exhibitions. Hourani has curated and organized several exhibitions locally such as the young Artist of the Year Award for the years 2000 and 2002 for the A.M. Qattan Foundation. He was the curator of the Palestinian pavilion for Sao Paolo Biennale, Brazil and the 21st Alexandria Biennale, Egypt. He writes critically in the field of art and is an active member and founder of artistic and administrative boards in a number of cultural and art institutions. Hourani is was the Arts Director of the International Academy of Art Palestine and founded Disarming Design from Palestine with Annelys de Vet.

Jaroslav Toussaint is a German typo and graphic designer based in Amsterdam, who studied at the Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam (Masters Rietveld Academie).

MAJNŨNA IN WONDERLAND

Our second day in Palestine, started on the first day of October. The night before, the white rabbit had lead us save and in time through its hole and nobody of us could really believe that we have had no problems with the Queen of Hearts and her guards; that we were finally here, in miraculous Ramallah. 

The evening lead us into the workshop of the rabbits old friend, the crazy cobbler whose favourite time of the day had just begun, the night. Our party member Majnuna, skilled in all kinds of crafts and arts, found herself in Wonderland, tried all his machines and agreed on becoming the cobblers apprentice. 

But no night shall pass without the celebration of our non-birthday, and so our glasses were filled with a white liquid called Arak, which is not Raki, nor it is Ouzo —no matter what the bottle says. The glasses where wicked too and filled themselves each time we tried to empty them. The Rabbits and Cobblers old friend, the March Hare, joined our party and the night went on with talks about pleasures and inconveniences, the Queen of hearts and her guards, about the amazing creatures of Wonderland and their ability to make so much good out of so much nothing. 

Finally we were brought to our hotel by the crazy cobbler on his flying carpet. Waking up after a short sleep which had given our livers too little time to digest the «don’t-call-it-Ouzo» we hurried on to our base for the next 10 days, where this very famous guy was born about 2000 years ago; who had a long beard, many followers and could turn water into wine. There, in the city of eternal Christmas, we were introduced to our new friends, inhabitants of Wonderland, skilled craftsmen and -women of whom we were going to learn so much. 

Writing this in retrospect is a matter of great difficulties. Here in Wonderland things are different than they appear. Weeks, especially the last not yet two, can feel like months or years. The ones who seem defeated can be more free than their conquerors. To reach the place across the street, only some meters away, can be a journey of years. 

We learned a lot, especially to open our eyes and listen and not to rely on the knowledge we brought with us in our baggage. We smoked the Argeelah with the local caterpillars which will certainly turn into butterflies some day. We made friends in Wonderland and once we are back home we will see things a little bit with their eyes and we will wonder and tell about Wonderland. 

Donna Verheijden is a Dutch designer based in Amsterdam who studied at the Sandberg Instituut. Her work is undeniably iconic - her videos feature mashups of vintage hollywood end-credits, moments of incredible cinematographic choreography, universally recognizable found footage and self-shot images of everyday life. An interesting intersection of banality and politics, between universal imagery and absolute specificity. In collaboration with Martina Petrelli she filmed a documentary, The House of the Eyes, in the West Bank during the fist Palestinian Art biennale which also coincided with the latest attacks in Gaza.

www.donnaverheijden.nl

The Disarming Design team consists of the core members of the project and develop idea's collectively for new products in collaboration with the many wonderfull producers that they meat.

Ayed Arafah was born in Jerusalem and grew up in Dheisheh refugee camp. Nowadays, he works and lives in Ramallah. He has a BA degree in contemporary visual art from The International Academy of Art and a BA in social work from Al Quds Open University. Combining classic and contemporary media, he explores the conceptual image that aims to motivate a better understanding about the self (my self and others) in relation with society’s issues related to politics, culture and economics. His aim is to engage with different levels of society.