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.
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.
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.
Ibrahim is a Palestinian architect based in Jerusalem.
"Each of the designs developed in the create shops are representing the situation of the people in the West Bank, Gaza or Jerusalem. They deal with the wall, the checkpoints, the violence, the closed borders and so on and at the same time they express our pride to be from Palestine. Through DDFP, we are encouraged to do more to show to the world the current atrocious situation.
It may be true that the revenue side is still under construction, but I find it more important that we create a symbolic economy. When people from all over the world are buying and using our objects, we enable them to make a comment on our case and we allow them to join the resistance. Money well invested, if you ask me.
By participating in DDFP I really challenged myself and I improved my thinking. I expanded my field of expertise and I created things that I never thought possible. To me, it was especially an imaginative development."(From Kurt Vanbelleghem interview, Can one really benefit from a social design project, or is it just another spin at the wheel?)
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.
Callum Copley is a researcher and writer based in Amsterdam and the UK, examining how emerging technologies constitute new forms of political and cultural domination. His work uses fiction as a method to propose alternative futures with which to enact radical change in the present. He is also co-founder of ‘Schemas of Uncertainty’ an ongoing research initiative exploring the role of prediction in contemporary digitized society.