Shukran. Humanitarian Design Business

I had the honor to be a speaker in Dar Al Hekma University’s international design symposium: Reinventing the Vernacular, that was the outline of my talk:

Shukran. Humanitarian Design Business

Daily, we observe the need for good design, the design that extends to all industries and segments of society. There is one segment, however, that is left behind. This group may not realise, nor afford, the importance of design thinking. Underprivileged communities are overlooked by designers, in their quest to establish a career and profit. What designers forget is why they started their business at all; to create change, and impact society. And what better way to achieve this, than to look to those who deserve it most, and would benefit from the smallest design effort? A new logo, a revamped window, a carefully considered sign would not only introduce “good” design to a neighbourhood, it could solve problems, and positively affect the livelihood of a person.

The concept of “humanitarian design” evolved without any demand from this under-privileged community, a distinctive approach that is counter to the ordinary procedures of the design scene. A service that is provided gratuitously, free of charge. It was simply a matter of think, design, and apply, with the only profit being a simple “Shukran” (Thank You in Arabic)

This Shukran means the world. The concept goes beyond charity and awareness-raising; it has developed to encompass an effort to bring good design and solutions to society, working with business owners and immersing oneself in the culture and daily life of local communities. These efforts are not without reward, new horizons open up opportunities, encouraging diverse clients and interesting projects.


Istanbul Calligraphy Workshop

Teaching Arabic calligraphy is a vital issue to me, and I used to organise and give many workshops to teach that Art and spreading its splendours, especially when I connect it with design and Arabic visual culture. But in this time, I had the privilege to teach young kids from Syria, who moved with their families to Istanbul after the war crises in their home country.

I’ve conducted two workshops, the first one was in elementary school for Syrian students in Beylikdüzü district west of Istanbul, for around 12 students from different age groups. Then the second workshop that took place in the 16th century historic library of the Yavuz Sultan Salim Mosque in the heart of old Istanbul-ian neighbourhood; at Fatih district.

Anyway, the place it self was a total surprise for me.. I was told that I’ll teach kids in a mosque.. I couldn’t believe that the mosque would be a 500 years old building!

Though I insisted to give those workshops using the traditional calligraphy tools; which might be difficult for young kids — but the results of both workshops were magnificent! the students were so interacted with the tools and letters, they challenged their selves to improve the way they write, and in the end; they produced a beautiful artworks they were proud of. It was a great experience for me and for the kids as well, even their parents were so happy for their children efforts to learn such a joyful and  cultural/visual art. Please enjoy looking at photos from the workshops down here.

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