YEARLY CREATE-SHOPS FOR INNOVATIVE PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
Every year Disarming Design from Palestine in collaboration with a local partner organise a summerschool for Palestinian and international students and young designers. On the basis of the local narratives new useful products are developed in collaboration with local artisans. What does it mean to be Palestinian today, and how to express that through locally made products?
The workshop is meant for students and emerging designers who are interested in developing their artistic practice from a social and political perspective. During these workshops, design is presented as an instrument for dialogue and emancipation with a focus on getting a better understanding of the political and humanitarian situation in Palestine through the perspective of crafts, design and art – and to apply this knowledge to the development of the individual practice.
Palestinian and international students and designers collaborate and learn from the different ways of dealing with design through the conversations that arise. They investigate the production process of the artisans. In mixed groups participants design prototypes for thought provoking and useful products together with local producers. How can a product embody a story? How to co-create products with local artisans?
Re-thinking Palestinian identity
In the current specific socio-political situation in Palestine, there is another layer to consider to guide us into a ‘sensitive’ local design and production. After what Palestinians have passed through in the last century, there is a deep need for a re-search for a new Palestinian identity, as it has been and is being distorted and transformed after many shocking and drastic changes. Disarming Design provides a platform where designers and artists search into their visual reality of Palestine, into their daily needs and experiences. They elaborate them to create useful objects that will ease obstacles, or inspire for a better reality. Identity is not something fixed, but something that corresponds to contemporary realities, so to say a work in progress, and that’s where product design serves part of this re-discovery.
It is a challenge when it comes to telling the Palestinian story. The historical conflict, the daily challenges, the complexity of the collective society that varies in the charm, kindness and active creation from one side, and the conservative perceptions from another side. Local and international audiences have become in a way desensitized of the overly repeated news reports of victims, documentaries on the struggles of checkpoints and images of clashes that deal with the people as only the recipients of information and facts, that media agencies race with each other on. Disarming Design from Palestine has been trying to take a different direction to engage people, on a personal level, with individual stories, by creating an interaction between the produced product and them.
In the international context, the presence of the Disarming Design products in the international market is important to stimulate and trigger the international community and bring new perspectives alive. We have received several feedbacks on how a simple product can create great lasting impressions on people. However, more pragmatically, Disarming Design’s important role is supporting local economy and innovation through access to the international market.
Bringing Artisans to the Frontier
Most of the artisans and producers in Palestine are from marginal families, or individuals with low income. We help them by creating back the demand from the local market where these people are facing great challenges; some because of the political situation which prevents them from moving around for trade purposes, so they have limits on finding resources whether local or imported. They also face the international challenge that the local market is being diminished by the international mass production of goods made in China or elsewhere. One of our aims is to bring these artisans to the frontier, to acknowledge their importance and unique local and cultural technical talent which can’t be found elsewhere.
International create-shops that we have organized so far:
– 2012: With IAAP in Ramallah, Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron
– 2013: With IAAP and BFTA in Bethlehem and Ramallah
– 2014: With IAAP in Ramallah, Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron
– 2015: With Al Ma’mal in Jerusalem, and with Eltiqa and windows on Gaza in Gaza
– 2016: With Ramallah Municipality in Ramallah
– 2017: With Amman Design Week and Darat Al Funun in Amman and Jerash (Jordan)
– 2019: With the Palestinian Museum in Birzeit