The Toukan factory is one of the most famous and oldest factories in Nablus. It was built around 1910 on the outskirts of the old city, which is now its heart. The factory was established by the two brothers Hafiz and Abdul Fattah Toukan who belonged to the sixth generation after Ibrahim Aagha Al Shawrbaji, the grandfather of all the Tuqan family branches. In 1929, the soap factory became a limited liability company under the name “Hafez & Abdel Fattah Tuqan Ltd. Co.” and the Two Keys “Al Muftaheen” logo was registered as a trademark. In order to avoid the falsification of the Two Keys logo, the Board of Directors decided in 1940s to register other similar trademarks, such as Two Swords, Two Scissors, and Two Axes, and they are all still registered to the present day. When the West Bank became a part of Jordan in 1950, the Board registered at the Jordanian Ministry of Economy under the number 49; making it one of the leading companies in the region.
"In Palestine there are still a lot of factories that make leather objects, but there has been a huge loss in quality. The craftsmen don’t get the good materials, new tools are very hard to come by and there are hardly any opportunity to further develop one’s skills, due to the lack of training facilities and educational opportunities. Even a project as DDFP can’t help us with this. It is neither their objective.
I remember well when suddenly two foreign designers, Moniek Driesse (NL) and David Juan Ortiz (ES) were standing in my studio. They told me that they were participating in a design workshop and that they were looking for a partner to make a wallet. That was a totally new experience to me.
Because of the occupation, it is a real problem for us to export our products. Everything is stopped at the border. But even when I would manage to send my products abroad, I wouldn’t be able to get paid. Israeli laws make it impossible to pay me with Visa or to allow me to receive foreign money transfers. The DDFP platform has helped me to overcome these problems, as they don’t experience the same restrictions for export. They can also collect the money and make payments to me. Unfortunately, for the moment I only have two products in their collection. So the financial impact is yet not very big. I can only hope that DDFP becomes a big company so they can sell and buy a lot of our products. They are quite unique and we need them. To my knowledge there are no other organisations that can support us in selling our products outside Palestine.
I was very happy when I saw my name on the brochure of Disarming Design, together with the products I made. That was a real boost of confidence for me. It strengthened my self-esteem, knowing that I was given the opportunity to let the people know who I am and what I am capable of." (From Kurt Vanbelleghem interview, Can one really benefit from a social design project, or is it just another spin at the wheel?)
The Open Studio is a center in Khan Younis where knowledge and know-how are exchanged. Khan Younis is a small town in Gaza with a large refugee camp that has existed for over 60 years and is still growing. It is an Islamic Arab culture that has been cut-off from the outside world; the largest prison on earth. If the political situation allows, artists from abroad visit the Open Studio to participate and teach.