In 2012 the International Academy of Arts Palestine, Annelys de Vet and the Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam embarked on a new project under the title: Disarming Design from Palestine, an inclusive design label that presents functional products from Palestine, providing an alternative narrative from what you might usually find in the high street. All items are developed, designed and produced by contemporary designers, artists and students in collaboration with local artisans and producers. During several ‘create-shops’ they engage in an enriching design dialogue with small emerging businesses and international colleagues. The overall objective of the project is to contribute to sustainable cultural and economic development in Palestine, through stimulating working relationships between artists, designers and manufacturers.

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The project started officially in september 2012 with a 2-week create-shop in Ramallah. Since then two official exhibitions have been organized (at Qalandia International in 2012, and Conflict&Design in 2013), another create-shop in 2013 took place, the bèta-version of the website and on-line shop has been made, several international press-platforms have covered the project and most important of all, a very beautiful collection of products has been made, of which several products are taken in production. The collection includes objects such as hourglasses that use cement from the separation wall, a dress made out of one keffiyeh, embroidered car decorations, scarfs depicting landscapes, olive leaves as earrings and an impossible chess game with water tanks and watch towers.

Disarming Design from Palestine also investigates in the position contemporary designers can take in relation to conflictual situations. It makes use of art and design as powerful tools that allow us to have serious discussions within a community about our political, social and cultural realities; the development of design as a discourse in Palestine. Investigating the creative potential of its people, the design label Disarming Design from Palestine aims to create dialogue, networks, relationships and empower new models of artistic practices and handcrafts. The interdisciplinary approach can feed new ideas for crafts production, avoiding the traditional –and often superficial– representations of handcrafts. “We need to have a discussion as a community on what kind of visual symbols we are adopting, what we are using and how we portray ourselves,” says Majd Abdel Hamid, production manager for Disarming Design, “we need to think about our visual discourse, independent of occupation, as people and as a community.”