Last year, we told you about the Social Enterprise Project (SEP), which employs skilled Palestinian refugee women at the Gaza refugee camp in Jerash, Jordan as artisans. These artisans make many unique handmade products, including embroidered home and fashion accessories, like shawls, tablecloths, bags, towels and scarves. Now we’re back with some exciting updates about the project! But first, here are just a few reasons why we love SEP:
- It supports refugee women– The women behind the handmade pieces are all refugees. Working with SEP, they receive above-market rates for their work. SEP empowers less fortunate women through providing them with professional, personal and economic stability.
- It is eco-sustainable– All the embroidery is handmade and so is most of the assembling; therefore, minimal machinery is used. SEP also manufactures locally and ensures recycling is a part of the production process. This awareness has not gone unnoticed. SEP was awarded the Butterfly Mark which, according to SEP’s website, “is awarded to luxury lifestyle brands that take pride in their craftsmanship, service and design, whilst protecting our planet and its resources”.
- It revives Palestinian heritage– SEP brings a piece of Palestinian heritage into our homes through its various products. Also, SEP introduces more people to the artisans’ work. It also brings the Palestinian art of embroidery to the world through partnering with influential ambassadors, such as Mary Nazzal-Batayneh, a barrister, human rights activist, and founder of Landmark Hotels, as well as Chaker Khazaal, who is named Arabian Business Most Influential Young Arab 2016 and Esquire Man of the Year 2015. The Chaker scarf, one of SEP’s products, is endorsed by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd!
SEP Founder, Roberta Ventura, gave BarakaBits some updates on the project:
- SEP embroidered wall art will be on display at a selection of suites at the Landmark hotel in Amman by this autumn.
- SEP products can be found in a number of cities including Amman, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Beirut and London.
- In April, the SEP-Tamari academy was launched at the camp, where artists improve their skills, learn new techniques and receive training.
- SEP also has a series of non-profit activities, such as English classes for children and is working on yoga classes for the artists, in collaboration with Amman-based partners
We’ll now leave you with a quote from Roberta about what inspired the SEP project.
“When you have been a refugee for 50 years, you stop dreaming, you stop hoping, you stop planning. This was the the reality when we started working in the Jerash refugee camp in Jordan in 2013. And this is why we decided to step in as the private sector and over time, replace the dependence on aid: working with the refugees, accompanying them above the poverty level and enabling them to monetize and celebrate their skills as well as their talent, heritage and culture via a peer-to-peer relationship. We believe that ’aid overdose’ can be counter-productive, as we can see every day in our work.”
For more information: visit SEP’s website, Facebook Page and Instagram.
This article was originally published on BarakaBits on July 3rd, 2016.
A store that started in a tent in 1990 during the Gulf War, Desert Designs can be found today on King Abdulla Street in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Since then, the store has grown to offers a customized furniture department, interior design services, a contemporary art galley and café in addition to a retail store. This family business brings tribal Bedouin designs to your home. The store’s products range from accessories to custom-made lighting, bright weaved rugs, ceramic vases with Arabic calligraphy, hand-painted coffee tables, paintings and even handbags.
In addition to furniture and home accessories, Desert Designs provides artists with a platform to talk about art through Huna Art, a space much needed in the country. In August, for example, Desert Designs held a talk by Emily Fiddy, a certified expressive arts therapist. The gallery space and meeting area are available for rent for events; Desert Designs’s Cafea Arab hosts Kalimat Literary, a monthly ladies book club.
Desert Designs offers beautiful pieces rooted in Saudi culture to decorate your home and a cultural space open to all art lovers.
For more information: Visit Desert Design’s website, Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter and Instagram
This article was originally posted on BarakaBits on October 18, 2015.
Got a bunch of wire hangers and have no idea what to do with them? Onur Lambaz was about to return a stack of hangers to the dry cleaner’s when the “beautiful blue abstract shapes” caught her attention and Hangit upcycled wire hangers was born, giving wire hangers a brand new purpose. Using little more than wire hangers, Lambaz combines creativity and practicality to create furniture pieces ranging from tables and mirrors to book holders and floor lights. Hangit’s handmade and functional pieces might just be the perfect way to add a fun touch to your living room!
For more information: Read here and visit Hangit upcycled wire hangers on Facebook.
This article was originally published on BarakaBits on 21/08/2015.
Houda Baroudi and Maria Hibri got together in Lebanon in 2000 and combined their passions for vintage textiles and furniture. Together, they founded Bokja Design Studio, where new and vintage textiles are used to create vibrant handmade accessories and furniture pieces.
These talented designers create beautiful pieces while giving back to the community. Their team is composed of local designers, artisans and carpenters. In addition, the textiles they use are sourced in the Middle East. On their website they say, “Bokja designs begin with a desire to share overlooked beauty in its most simple form, while capturing the essence of what it once meant and stood for. We layer history and memories while adding depth and dialogue to our work.”
Bokja has traveled to Kuwait, Milan, China and France. Their installations address world event while staying true to their design concepts and creating eye-catching pieces. One such piece is Arab Spring/Arab Fall, which was presented at Sultan Gallery in Kuwait. The piece shows two juxtaposed maps of the Arab world, each with a different message. The Arab Spring map uses an antique rug to show “the core values of the Arab culture that should be the bases of any new beginning”. In contrast, the Arab Fall maps uses imported jeans to represent “…an Arab world where imported fads and fast foods have replaced the timeless traditions and native delicacies.”
For more information: visit Bokja Design Studio’s website, blog and you can follow them on Facebook.
Do you know any other design studios in the region doing something different? Let us know in the comments below!
This article was originally published on BarakaBits on 10/09/2015.