Have you ever lounged on a meem or placed your books in a seen? Did you ever think you would have a 3ayn as a treasured piece of furniture. If you have a passion for Arabic typography, co-founders of Kashida deisgn, MIrna Hamady and Elie Abou Jamra share it too. They describe themselves as a bridge, the link between Arabic typography and modern lifestyle. It is true that they are pioneers in this art. Newzy.net recently interviewed them to find out how it all started and their secrets to making it happen.
How did the concept of Kashida come about?
The idea began cooking toward the end of our university years at AUB. Both of us constantly found ourselves thinking about Arabic typography, an important factor shaping modern Arab identity. We thought: why do we appreciate the beauty of Arabic script on a scroll or canvas only; how can we create something iconic with Arabic script that surpasses 2-dimensional realm?
Kashida was our answer to bringing Arabic letterform into the home where it would be appreciated, and more so, highly functional!
Now, people could experience letters in their daily life. Arabic is now your chair, table, or bookshelf. Letterforms have risen from their linguistic status to become functional art pieces for your space.
How long have you been designing products and furniture?
Fairly recently! Both of us have studied graphic design, and recently entered the product design industry. We are exploring the industry and learning quite fast. Self-initiated research as well as hands-on experimenting with our producers is our true source of learning!
The Arabic script is very traditional and artistic, how did you succeed in giving it such a modern edge?
We consciously decided to launch our first product line with modern typography, featuring letters we drew ourselves. For instance our coaster set is a fully hand drawn font we designed as such to suit their function. The modern edge is the result of the typography we use, which is far from traditional calligraphy.
What is your favorite Arabic letter and why?
We do not have a specific answer to this question; all of the letters are stunning! However, some letters are much easier to work with than others. This is something we face specifically when creating customized pieces for select clients.
How do you design furniture that does both, looks good and is comfortable?
The best pieces we have designed were inspired directly by the anatomy of the letter itself. At Kashida, we aim to design pieces where form and function seem to come naturally, as for instance the Mumtad Lounge Chair: the ‘meem’ letterform seems to lend itself to become a lounge chair.
You do custom designs, what kind of products are the most requested?
Until now, our most requested custom items are bookshelves and tables. However, the sky is the limit! Kashida’s R&D is developing rapidly, there is virtually no limits to how much we can push the boundaries of functional 3-dimensional Arabic type.
What kind of design requests do you receive? Entire spaces? Decoration? Commercial spaces? Please give as many examples as possible.
We are currently working on a public space within an educational institution abroad, and will be showcasing the result when it is executed. However, most of our requests until now have been pieces for residential homes and even office spaces.
What is the most challenging part of your industry?
Carving into the industry of already established niche furniture retailers, and creating a loyal client base.
Your products are made in Beirut. Do you try to illustrate a part of Lebanon and if so, how and why?
Our products are designed and made in Lebanon; Kashida is a Lebanese brand from concept to execution. Upon founding the company, we searched the country for the perfect artisanal workshop to collaborate with. There are numerous craftsmen all over Lebanon, and we found the industry to be suffering heavily because of cheaper imports.
Kashida’s core value is empowering local handmade objects; our partnership with local craftsmen is vital.
Any advice or tip to other designers who would want to launch their own brand?
If you have something new to add to the world, then go for it! There is always room for bold, new, updated concepts. However there is nothing less pleasant than launching a brand that you cannot distinguish because so many others are doing the same!
Which famous designer do you most admire and why?
Leonardo Da Vinci, for being a brilliant mind that sketched for objects that were realized decades and centuries after his time.
A modern day famous designer we learn so much from in Steve Jobs, for creating objects that the world never perceived to own!
What is the accomplishment you’re most proud of so far?
Building a client base, sustaining our innovative pace and overcoming obstacles are things we are really proud of. Whenever we have a feeling of accomplishment something new happens and challenges us to perform even better. We cannot really state one accomplishment we are proud of only; our sense of pride comes from stretching our muscles upon new hurdles and bumps along the way!
What has been your biggest disappointment?
Our biggest disappointment by far is working with the wrong producer at first. It was a huge challenge to find the right artisanal workshop to produce our designs, and almost no one wanted to venture out with a start-up. Unfortunately working with the wrong people can damage a company far more than you would imagine. Everyone on the team must fully believe in the company’s mission and vision, if not, there is a huge problem!
We really love your furniture. Would you offer us one of your pieces (just kidding but still )?
Sure, pass by our office when you are in Beirut!
For more information, please visit: www.kashidadesign.com
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