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.
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.
Mohammad Saleh is currently a Jerusalem based ecological space designer and green activist. He has a degree in Psychology, and another in Musicology. He has been engaged in the cultural and art sector of Palestine for several years, working at the Palestinian Art Court, followed by works in visual production related to Palestinian life. In recent years Mohammed has been leading an ecological and sustainable life and since 2015 he has been professionally designing sustainable and green spaces.
"Since the very first moment of us working together, I have been learning about my country in a totally different, positive and hopeful way. Living and working in Palestine is constantly being confronted with a harsh reality and a negative context. DDFP brings something positive out of a negative thing. The problems, the occupation and the constant present violent atmosphere are used as sources for inspiration. Now we can spread our stories using creative, productive and positive thinking.
The market is indeed flooded with products from China and Israel, and because easy consumerism is more appealing, most people don’t think that they can actually do what they want themselves. Our artisans are also caught up in this pattern of consumerism and tend to only produce what the market wants, over and over again.
To me the beauty of DDFP lies in the fact that in a very perceptive way they managed to harvest the resources that were already here in my country. They looked at the existing networks; they looked for people who already had their own ideas and for artisans with amazing abilities. This meant that they didn’t have to train people, neither to educate designers or to make design. They only needed to say that collaborating was important and that it was possible. They did make all of the participating local designers look totally different at these crafts studios. Before, when we past by an artisans’ shop, we perceived it as exotic and on rare occasions we would take a photo of it. But the idea never came to our mind to show any interest in what that man was doing. Let alone that we could imagine a possible collaboration.
There is indeed the potential for DDFP to become an important economical factor, but this is not the case yet. We will definitely need a couple of more years before we will be able to start investing in local productions from the profits that we can make from the sales. For the moment this is our Achilles heel. We often lack the funds to pay for new productions, so we need to look for investment money in different ways, which can be quite challenging.
Our identity is not defined in a positive way. We are getting constantly accused and we are seen as a bad nation. By joining DDFP, I found a unique opportunity to tell my own story and to make an object that performs that story. So when people are buying it, they indicate that they believe in your story. This empowers the feeling that I, that we can. That it is possible."(From Kurt Vanbelleghem interview, Can one really benefit from a social design project, or is it just another spin at the wheel?)
Annelys Devet (1974, NL) is a Brussels based designer, initiator and curator, founder of a bureau for graphic research and cultural design DEVET. Since 2009 she heads the master in design ‘Think tank for visual strategies’ at the Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam (Masters Rietveld Academie) — where she earned an MDes herself in 1999. She is the co-founder and director of the inclusive design label ‘Disarming Design from Palestine’ that develops, presents and sells useful products from Palestine. The goods are designed during yearly workshops in Palestine with local and international designers that research existing production methods to produce new products that narrate about Palestine’s current reality. Since 2003 De Vet initiated a series of subjective atlases that map countries from a human perspective; including Subjective atlas of Palestine (2007), Subjective atlas of Mexico (2011), Subjective atlas of Fryslân (2013) and Subjective atlas of Colombia (2015) – the next edition will map Pakistan (2016). De Vet co-organized the Masterclass Mediafonds@Sandberg (2009–2015) which is a laboratory for new forms of digital storytelling for media makers, journalists, artists and designers. From 2003 to 2007 she initiated, designed and organized the ’Temporary Museum Amsterdam’, which was the side program of the art fair Art Amsterdam. She co-curated the exhibition ‘UNMAPPING THE WORLD’ on critical contemporary mapping practices, for the ExperimentaDesign biennale 2014 in Lisbon and for the international Graphic Design Festival in Chaumont (2015).
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.
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)
“Art, design, crafts, they all have to be part of the resistance against the occupation, as an element within a mosaic power against foreign rule. It has to reflect the beauty and the strength of Palestine, just like poetry and literature are doing. DDFP brings this together, representing a circle of artists and artisans, as well online as to the rest of the world.
Before I attended my first create shop in 2015, I wasn’t thinking to highly of our local crafts production. It felt as it was being restricted to traditional embroidery, and to the usual products in ceramics and glass and so on. For us, we always saw the same things over and over again in the market. There was never someone who would do something different or revolutionary. Disarming design made us aware that we have this heritage and that we could something new with it. That it is Palestinian, a part of our identity and that we can be proud of it.
It feels that until now people have been scared to try new things. In the way artisans were doing things they were earning their living. So why risk all that for doing something out of the box? The idea of working with designers is also very new. We weren’t really trusted with our innovative, creative concepts and approaches. So collaborating felt like an experiment for both sides, where people stepped in with quite some reservations and resistance. It took time to overcome these sentiments. But after a while, it turned out to be very beneficial for all of us. I definitely have developed my ideas thanks to the way the craftspeople I have worked with have taught me new techniques and different ways of doing things.
DDFP is trying to support low and middle-income businesses, but it is true that they currently cannot significantly contribute to the financial sustainability of any of the artisans or designers. What we see happening on the other hand is that they start to become a catalyst for other NGO and organisations, and maybe, when they all would join forces, we can work towards a more worthwhile economical position.
It is nice to see that people, after they participated at the create shops, are starting to create an independent network. It seems that we finally are going to reach a point that we can establish a network that can include everybody involved and interested in Palestinian design and crafts. We are not there yet, but it is definitely under construction.”( From Kurt Vanbelleghem interview, Can one really benefit from a social design project, or is it just another spin at the wheel?)
"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)