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.
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see our heritage being used with a sort of ‘Copy-Paste’ attitude and this is why after some time, the products became outdated, repetitive and not responsive to the fast changing of contemporary societies we live in.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 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!
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.