Tommaso and Mirelle proposed a structured program of 4 workshops during November/December taking place at Hosh Jalsa in Birzeit, that aimed to involve the local community (with a focus on design students from BirZeit University) in a process of collective thinking and design. During the program “COLLECTIVE THINKING” the designers were invited to participate in workshops taking place in and outside of the Old City of BirZeit, in order to stimulate an assertive mentality to initiate, trust and collaborate, based on shared values and talents.
“More and more designers are involved in processes of co-designing, participation, open-source models and workshops — and learning together while doing. Design is not presented as means to produce forms and shapes, but as a way to structure a process and find meaning in the way shapes can form new relationships.”
— Annelys de Vet
Sun. 18 Nov. 10am — 1pm
Sometimes food is just an excuse to sit in front of someone and start speaking, because we need it. How much time do you spend to really look at people, talk to people, know people? How often can you ask them about their feelings, memories, ideas? Be honest, be brave, listen.This workshop was designed to improve your social skills through an act of design.
The workshop started with a preparatory exercise called ‘FAST FORWARD’, a fast exercise to break the ice between the participants, who were asked to answer questions about different stages in their personal lives. The exercise was designed in the form of speed dating, giving the participants only two minutes to answer to each question before switching to the next seat. The questions about childhood, teenage years, present and future were printed on a sheet. On the other side of the tabe the person would write down the answers giving by each participants creating a hypothetical life story build up from different lives.
After the ice breaking exercise the participants began with the workshop ‘OUT ON THE TABLE’, a meal with no food. The participants were treated as guest of our dinner and we acted as the waiters, presenting a menu made up of little assignment instead of real dishes.
Instructions: The participants are invited to sit at their reserved place, the waiters then can start the service.
Starter (5 minutes): draw a portrait of the person sitting in front of you and point out what you like the most about that person. Don’t worry about your drawing skills.
Main course (10 minutes): choose 3 images max from the basket and show them to the person sitting in front of you. Ask the person to look at one or all the images and tell you something about their life in relation to the chosen picture’s. Then use the images to design a little poster about the things the person told you. You may use some words
Cigarette break (3 minutes)
Second (20 minutes): you have a list of questions: each person has the chance to ask a question to a person he/she choses. While the chosen person answers the question publicly, the other one will draw a line never lifting the marker from the sheet and trying to read the storyteller’s feelings. Rules: each person can ask a question and answer a question only once, each question can be asked only once and needs to be erased once it is asked.
Dessert (15 minutes): you have a collection of envelopes, each of them containing 3 poems. You have to choose 2 poems and give it to your table mate. Your table mate will reassemble the poem spontaneously/subconsciously, cutting/pasting and combining words onto the sheet, thereby creating a new poem about you since he/she has gotten to know you in the last hour.
“It was not only ice-breaking between the participants, but a personal ice-breaker between me and myself.”
— Michael M. Jabareen
Sun. 25 Nov. 10am — 2pm
This workshop focused on the role of graphic design and how it can be used to influence the public space and how this will lead to the activation of a dialogue between the viewer and the context of the space, dealing with the problem of excessive garbage in Birzeit.
In our first weeks in Palestine we’ve got overwhelmed by the amount of garbage lying around on the streets. One day we noticed some abandoned cars on fascinating locations, one in front of a cemetery, one covered by plants and another one overlooking this beautiful Palestinian landscape. We decided we must do something with them. Later is became obvious to use them for our workshop.
The Municipality of Birzeit was also looking for ways to raise awareness about the excessive garbage issue in their program “Beautification of Birzeit” and agreed to sponsor our workshop. An important step was made to cooperate with designers to give a beneficial contribution to the local community and environment!
We got the approval from 3 car owners: Mohammad Hajeer, Fuad Samandar and Fares Asfour The car from Mohammad is located in front of a Christian cemetery. We choose to cover the car with poems by Mahmoud Darwish, who died ten years ago and was regarded as the Palestinian national poet.
The car of Fouad was covered by plants and flowers an we wanted to emphasize the contrast between nature and car. The location of the third car is overlooking a panoramic view over the typical Palestinian landscape with hills of olive trees. We wanted to combine this typical Palestinian landscape with traditional Palestinian patterns.
Since we had only 3 hours to paint 3 cars we divided the participants in 3 groups and gave them a workbook with specific rules to apply to each car.
Example of workbook
The participants will work together and write the poem on the car with a brush.
Following these rules:
First round: group A — Top of the car (Next groups are free to choose the side to paint)
First player: choose the side of the car where to start writing.
write the first three words from the poem you choose.
Next players: players take turns writing 3 words at the time.
Fill the complete side of car, write only on metal parts
avoid the windows, wheels and door handles.
If you finished the poem but you still have space on the chosen side continue with the next poem, until you finish the space.
If one side of the car is completed within the 60 min. stop.
After 60 min: Players move to Car #2
“I discovered I like Graphic Design” — Mirna Bannoura
(This workshop was designed by Mirelle Van Tulder (NL) and Tommaso Anceschi (ITA), Birzeit 2018.)
Sun. 2 Dec. 10am — 2pm
With this workshop we wanted to raise the awareness of our surroundings by finding the news ourselves, meeting people, asking them what happened in Birzeit, starting from the small reality that we live in everyday but that can still surprise us. For a day the participants acted as journalists and we as publishers, editing and printing Birzeit’s first newspaper, that one you are holding in your hand right now.
The workshop started with a half our long preparatory exercise ‘WRITING FROM SCRATCH’ where the participants were instructed to create an imaginary story from images and other visual content provided by us in order to stimulate their imagination, starting from a ordinary thing or nonsense details to create content that can catch the interest of the reader.
In ‘TODAY IN BIRZEIT’ the participants were paired in couples to gather news about Birzeit in order to create a collective newspaper. After a presentation from us about how design can be used as a tool to create a personal narrative about your fascinations the participants were given one hour to collect any type of news. After returning to Hosh Jalsa the participants were then given one hour to write the articles including visual materials.
“There is always a story to be told behind everything around!” — Kareem K. Khalid
(Exercise designed by Mirelle Van Tulder (NL) and Tommaso Anceschi (ITA), Birzeit 2018. Original workshop designed by Vito Battista, David Giovanatto, Alice Guarnieri, Valeria Pugliese at I.S.I.A. Urbino, 2018)
Sun. 9 Dec. 10am — 2pm
In this workshop we explored the boundaries of mapping, adding a personal layer that is usually absent in the representation of a map. Through an exercise based on instinct, we proposed a design method that opens new possibilities to explore the relationships between spaces and personal experiences, allowing the participants to discover new layers of the reality they weren’t aware of, changing their perception of the environment and stimulating them to create a personal map of Birzeit.
In the first part of the workshop ‘A BREAK FROM THE VISUAL’, a 40 min preparatory exercise, the participants explored Birzeit in a new way: Blindfolded! Paired in couples where one participant was blindfolded and the other one the guide, switching roles at half time.
The experience of a temporary blindness and depending completely on someone else gives you a totally different perception of the environment, because of the natural activation of the other senses. At the end of the exercise we gathered at Birzeit Mall to look back and reflect on our experiences and discoveries about the environment that surrounds them everyday.
After the preparatory exercise the participants were ready to create their ‘MAP AS IDENTITY’. Each participants was given two hours to continue the exploration and create a personal map of the city which they can identify themselves with.
“My ears were working 100% better! It was amazing how sharp my senses were working” — Kareem K. Khalid
(This workshop was designed by Mirelle Van Tulder (NL) and Tommaso Anceschi (ITA), Birzeit 2018. Original exercise designed by Vito Battista, David Giovanatto, Alice Guarnieri, Valeria Pugliese at I.S.I.A. Urbino, 2018)