I took this picture in Gaza in August 2002. That was my first and only visit. The rubble is a former apartment building, which was destroyed by Israel via air because they suspected a Hamas member was hiding there. None of the occupants were evacuated from the building before it was destroyed. Gaza is an open air prison, and as I type this, its citizens are under constant air strikes from Israel.

What’s most frustrating is that media coverage and responses from world leaders (mostly West) continue to be one sided: always putting Israel first and Palestine second. The word “disproportionate” in regards to many things is completely non-existent.

“It’s getting to the point where the scoreboard will start spelling out the score…”
— BBC announcer on Brazil vs. Germany match
As a designer, I felt annoyed while reading this article. Despite agreeing with a lot of the author’s points, I also felt that it would’ve given it something more if she had bothered interviewing designers who work for these publishers. The fact is designers rarely have a final say when it comes to marketing. This neglect of a designer’s opinion makes us designers yet again seem irrelevant in the process.
The blame cannot just be put on marketing when it comes to stereotypical covers however - authors and translators likely play a role in constructing the brief. As a designer, I can’t tell you how many clients (both Arab and non-Arabs, both educated about the region and those merely interested in it) have asked me for “Arabian looks” that are nothing more but silly stereotypes. Yes people do judge books based on their cover: the proof that good design works is everywhere. When I browse a bookshop and come across books in translation, I often shake my head in disapproval. Frankly, I question a publisher who has the nerve to favour marketing over content.
I’m not saying designers are innocent either: the fact that the design profession is so reliant on the client allows this to happen. Rarely do designers question this unquestioned service to clients (it is their paycheque after all), or argue against the contents of a brief. But this is also the problem with universal/standard design. I’m certain when designers think of the Arab region the first imagery available to them is arabesque, veils, mosques, camels, turbans, and geometry. Context is everything - there is no one size fits all solution.
I believe that publishers need to start thinking about having teams of designers designated to work on specific regions - designers that are aware of the places they are designing about. Or better yet, publishers should hire an experienced and knowledgeable freelancer familiar with a specific region and who is capable of giving them an informed critique. Either way, designing book covers is like translation: the wrong choice can alter the meaning completely.
Raouche pigeon rocks, Beirut

theyuppie’s photostream on Flickr.

Finally got around to updating my flickr after four years! I’ve been travelling a fair bit lately taking pictures and I realised it’s just great for archiving. Will likely be adding some more in the next bit.

The Gherkin sure has made an impact in its relatively short life: doppelgängers in all sizes in Barcelona, Beirut, and Doha…although Jean Nouvel designed both the one in Barcelona and in Doha. Recycling much?

On my second visit to the Catalan capital, where I was attending the FAD conference, I was able to discover a lot of it on foot. I enjoyed being able to cover most of Barcelona in this manner, something almost unheard of in London. I was impressed by many things, but I was disappointed by a whole lot more. What I often thought about was who this city did not belong to, and of course this made me think of Lefebvre’s concept of the right to the city. As Harvey (2008) states, “We live, after all, in a world in which the rights of private property and the profit rate trump all other notions of rights.”[via]

Since my research deals with this concept of locality, I thought about the absent local life in Barcelona. The city itself, as the documentary I stumbled on discussed (above), is nothing more than a theme park, a European Cancun of sorts, made entirely for the enjoyment of tourists - tourists who live as though they’ve never left home (I witnessed an American tourist buying American scratch cards at a shop and was shocked). The entertainers on La Rambla seem out of place, as if they are stopping over before completing their journey to Las Vegas. The hamburgers and frankfurters that flood the menus are also out of place. I’ll be the first to admit that I personally have never enjoyed food anywhere in Spain (in all five of my visits to different regions), but there are so many alternative cuisines around the city from all over the world it’s easy to find something affordable and good. 

I wondered then, what was the appeal of such a place? Why are people flocking to come here? It’s overcrowded wherever you go, and most of the tourists (as the documentary differentiates between three types of visitors: tourists, travellers, and voyagers) have no idea what Barcelona or Catalonia is about. 

On the plane over to Barcelona, I had written a whole piece on travel guides and how they only cater to the super-rich, or the typical tourist routes. After watching this documentary however, I felt that sharing this film was much more relevant and important since these are issues we are witnessing in cities worldwide.

Sources:

Notebook accumulation since beginning my MA in 2011. Actually this is not that accurate (many are missing!). Let’s call this the notebook accumulation since I moved to London in September 2012.

Trying to make sense of my edits. Double checking the reference list is best done by writing it down in order to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

Back when Ugly Betty was first on the air, my sister and I used to watch it whenever it aired. I’ve recently gotten back into it (upon realising it’s on Netflix!), and remembered how incredibly well-written the show was, and how wonderful all the actors performed their characters. This is one of my favourite Wilhemina Slater scenes from the show (particularly at 0:46) - played brilliantly by Vanessa Williams.

What is interesting about this scene is the whole subjective/objective argument, which comes up a lot in the art and design worlds. Often, poor work goes on to collect praise, rarely facing direct criticism in the press.

Unlike most of the design discipline, I feel as though fashion is one of the only ones with a healthy culture of criticism in its publications: editors have no problem writing about boring runway shows, bad collections, and poorly made garments.

Vision & Articulation 2014 - Festival Programme PDF

I worked on giving the Goldsmiths Graduate Festival a new look this year with a fellow PhD colleague. The festival, which is organised entirely by graduate students at Goldsmiths, launched today and goes on until the 16th of May on campus. Featuring a ton of research presentations, installations, exhibitions, conferences, and performances.

goldgradfest:

The PDF version of the festival programme can be viewed below and you can also download a copy here.

kalimatkalimat:

Spotted: Kalimat Issue 08 posing for the cameras between Delayed Gratification and Varoom! at the Facing Pages Magazine Biennale in Arnhem last month.
kalimatkalimat:

Spotted: Kalimat Issue 08 posing for the cameras between Delayed Gratification and Varoom! at the Facing Pages Magazine Biennale in Arnhem last month.

Latest Work: Amman Design Pop-Up Shop

We often set our eyes on ‘design capitals’. We are so focused on what’s happening in those ‘capitals’ that we ignore the great movements rising up nearby. Amman is a city often misunderstood and underrated - after all, its reputation is based on hearsay. But the city formerly known as Philadelphia is, in many ways, a sleeper star in design. The pop-up features a selection of work, ranging from prints, to jewellery, to quirky furniture, and is meant to invite viewers into the design scene of a city that will surprise you.
Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Pictures from the Amman Design Pop-Up Shop, which I curated for Katara Art Center (KAC). It is extremely difficult to be absent at the install and opening of your show, but I am happy that the KAC team did an exceptional job setting everything up.

More about the show here: http://bit.ly/1iNb2QJ

Methodology chapter complete…or so I think. This video shows how I feel right now.

Ugly packaging, great machine. Finally got my hands on an Aeropress (through Brown Bear Coffee Company), and I must say…the coffee is amazing. I’ve been using a ceramic coffee dripper for about three years (which I do love), then switched to French Press temporarily (which I didn’t particularly enjoy), and then back to dripper. Now the Aeropress joins the family!

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