Mohamed Abusal (b. 1976, Gaza) artistic projects are daring, critical and scathing comments on what is deemed permissible in terms of technology and civilization in Gaza today. His “Metro in Gaza” (2012) proposes a network of seven metro lines to connect the different areas of Gaza Strip. He made an illuminated metro sign and set off to fix and photograph this sign wherever he imagines the metro stations should be. His “Shambar” (2013) is on the alternative and creative light solutions created or lived by people in Gaza as a result of the continuous disconnection of electricity. Shown at Al-Mamal Foundation in Jerusalem, and the French Institute in Gaza, Ramallah, and Nablus, the work exists in photographic and painting series. Abusal exhibited extensively around the world over the last decade, notably in France, where he has had several solo exhibitions, in addition to the US, UK, Australia, and Dubai. In 2005 he was awarded the Charles Aspry Prize for Contemporary Art. He is a founding member of “Eltiqa”, a an active group of contemporary artists that came together in 2002.
"For me, DDFP is indeed completely political, but in an intelligent and artistic way. It is a clever way to make resistance. The Israeli are using every opportunity to make us accept the wall, to let us think that we can live a normal live within this containment. Through DDFP I can express not to accept the wall. We incorporate our political views within the objects we make and through the Disarming design platform they can leave the country. They are being exposed and sold in the rest of the world so people can hear us from this side of the wall.
Even Palestine is subject to a global economical reality and foreign large-scale, low-cost production has led to the closure of many factories in Palestine. Even our traditional scarfs are now produced in China. The Israeli siege also bears an enormous responsibility. Because of the occupation, it became impossible to import the necessary raw materials; therefor many small-scale crafts studios went out of business. The result is that the knowledge and skills are no longer been transferred from father to son.
I have learned many things while participating, things far beyond what they explicitly offer us. Imagine that there are no learning resources in Gaza, no libraries, no universities where we can learn about the new styles of design.
This collaborative approach is an incredible tool that can be used to re-open closed crafts shops. It is intelligent to make a link between the creation of new objects for new needs, new markets and new trends with our own craft heritage in mind."(From Kurt Vanbelleghem interview, Can one really benefit from a social design project, or is it just another spin at the wheel?)
Mirelle van Tulder (1988, Auckland) is currently the designer/intern in residence at DDFP in Birzeit. She will be graduating from her BA of Design at The University of the Arts, HKU, in The Netherlands. As part of her graduation project she is investigating how designers can make a beneficial contribution the a society living under occupation. As part of this research she is giving four workshops under the name “Collective Thinking Design Program” in collaboration with Tommaso Anceschi (ITA). The workshops aim to involve mainly the student community from Birzeit University in a process of collective thinking and design knowledge. Collective Thinking Design Program is created to stimulate an assertive mentality to initiate, trust and collaborate, based on shared values and talents. Mirelle is also helping with the production of DDFP’s ‘Old Newspaper bowls’ and with the technical instructions of all DDFP’s products made in Palestine.
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?)
Inês Marques (b. 1990, Lisbon) is a designer that completed her Masters at Central Saint Martins – University Arts of London on Material Futures course that explores the intersection between design, craft, science and technology. Ines finished her BA at Fine Arts University of Lisbon, Portugal on Multimedia Art - Installation and Performance. Co-founded the project D-ACT with designer Valentina Coraglia that aims to preserve the notion of heritage, history and identity. Her work was exhibited in OPERAE, Turin Independent Design Festival 2016; Transnatural Gallery and Dutch Design Week (2016), Regeneration exhibition; Window Space at the London Metropolitan University in It Is Probably Better Start From Zero project; PROTECHT exhibition at CASS Faculty of Art (Bank Space Gallery); The work that she produces is a combination of social, political and economical inquiry to informe the future with a specific interest in design education.
Tommaso Anceschi (1994, Milan) is currently the designer/intern in residence at DDFP in Birzeit. He will be graduating from his MA in Communication and Design for Publishing at I.S.I.A Urbino, in Italy.
During the internship he is focusing mainly on the graphic design and photography side, re-designing the identity of Hosh Jalsa, the new stunning DDFP building, from the logo to the building signage, also giving shape to the social media channels with weekly updates of the in-house events.
He is also giving four workshops under the name “Collective Thinking Design Program” in collaboration with Mirelle van Tulder (ITA). The workshops aim to involve mainly the student community from Birzeit University in a process of collective thinking and design knowledge. Collective Thinking Design Program is created to stimulate an assertive mentality to initiate, trust and collaborate, based on shared values and talents.
Annelys de Vet (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).