Personal Design Agenda (Cultural Economic Values)

Figure 1: My basic interests.

After presenting different trends and agendas, I started looking on the combination between (Critical Design, Cultural economic values & Sustainability of cultural Crafts.)

Therefor, I started to write my interests and search about it.

Interested  in:

  • Interaction between the consumer and the product.
  • Having a hidden message behind it (sustainability).
  • Good-looking and very functional –> purpose behind it.
  • Adjustable
  • Ergonomics and Human Factor


Critical Design?

Critical Thinking / Design Thinking?

Figure 2: Kazuya Nakamura, Comparison Between Critical Thinking and Design Thinking.

In comparing Design Thinking with Critical Thinking, I was interested in reading an article written by Kazuya Nakamura describes the similarities and the differentiation between them, she claims that both of those approaches are applicable, but one uses the right brain where as the other is using the left brain as it is illustrated in the previous figure.

Both Design Thinking and Critical Thinking are approaches. It helps you how to deliver certain tasks. It defines “How To Do” rather than “What To Do”.

“Critical Thinking is logical and fact based. It requires a lot of research and interviews to collect data to build logic. Traditional consulting firms like McKinsey and Boston Consulting has embraced critical thinking approach for long time.

Design Thinking takes more anthropologic approach. It requires observation of people for deeper insights. Design firms like IDEO and Frog Design use design thinking approach for their innovation design projects.

It is not good or bad. They are just different. One uses more right side of brain and another requires more left side of brain.

You can design product in design thinking way and you can also design service in critical thinking way” (Nakamura, 2016)

Then, I started looking around Manchester (Northern Quarter & Trafford Centre)  to discover new retail stores and furniture stores such as: Manchester Crafts and Design Centre, Ferrious, Urban store, Craft shop, Oklahoma, Next Home, Selfridges, John Lewis, Home Sence, Natuzzi & Betta Living.

I was inspired from various different great designers in different fields especially on furniture, as you can see in figure 3.

Figure 3: the slides from my presentation showing the research trip’s path and the designers I inspired from.


Critical Design:


Figure 4: La Marrana, The water saving pig, Designed by Luise Lava Studio

LA MARRANA – 2008 – The moneybox pig that saves water instead of money. It works storing the water left in the glasses after the meals, for watering the plants afterwards.


2. The Contemporary Fluidity Dish Rack:

Figure 5: Fluidity dish rack, designed by Milan based design studio DesignLibero

  • The main idea behind this design was to take the classic and add a modern twist to it.
  • Fluidity is a dish rack and a planter. It serves a double function and they both work harmoniously together.
  • I found the process interesting where the plants actually absorb water from the left over water.
  • The water that trickles from the washed dishes as it’s supposed to is then used to irrigate the plants.


3. DIY IKEA Hack:

Turn a Simple Stool into a Cool Bike!

Figure 6: Turning a simple IKEA wooden chair into a child bike.

The joy of discovering something and engaging the invention.

Reinterpretation of what you got already.


4. Almerich Magnificent Lamp:

Figure 7: the changeable magnificent hanging lamp, designed by Almerich.


A magnetic ring and a set of blades are the simple base of this hanging lamp, which allows the user to change its aspect any time.

In just a few seconds it can change from an organized appearance.


5. Architectural play set:

Figure 8 : Children discover through playing.

American-made, sustainable, and larger-than-life. These building boards let kids easily build (and rebuild) structures while stretching their imagination.

The changeability of the product is the game it self.


Cultural Economic Value:


Figure 9: The Project’s logo.

rixt reitsma & lidewij spitshuis

A collaboration project between Dutch designers and Indonesian craftspeople who were victims of the Bantul earthquake 2006.

Goal: to increase the economic independence of the local craftspeople.

Result: series of lifestyle products meant for export.


A. Bambuster:

Figure 10: Bambuster, designed by Rixt Reitsma & Lidewij Spitshuis, 2007.

bambuster a series of vases made of pressed bamboo, all having a rajut (kind of Indonesian hand crochet) color accent.

B. Soupper:

Figure 11: Soupper, designed by Rixt Reitsma & Lidewij Spitshuis, 2007.

Soupper a soup set for four. The perforated pattern of the Sonokeling wooden plate continues smoothly in the ceramic bowls, despite the contrast in material.

C. Roster:

Figure 12: Roster, designed by Rixt Reitsma & Lidewij Spitshuis, 2007.

Roster is a series of pressed bamboo plates. The carved or batik pattern is inspired by ventilation stones, which are common in Indonesian houses.


7. Bright Beads Wooden Lamps by Marz Designs :

Figure 13: Mat Cult Bead lights & Bright Beads Wooden Lamps.

Bright Beads is a lighting collection of wooden bead pendants created by Australian designer Coco Reynolds of Marz Designs.




Figure 14: From the open research to the personal design agenda.


After looking upon all these examples, I decided to study the Arab Local Product Designers such as Aljoud Lootah, Nada Debs, Iyad Naja & Maram Mokhtar, to estimate their work through the use of Arabesque patterns and motives.


Sustainablity of Cultural Crafts:

A. Local:


1. Aljoud Lootah:

Figure 15: The personal logo and personal photo for Aljood Lootah.

  • The idea of contrasts in form and function.
  • She composes her creations by mixing traditional silhouettes & concepts with modern elements.
  • Patterns, folds and geometric shapes are at the heart of her inspiration.
  • Mixing the traditional craftsmanship with contemporary design.

Figure 16: on the bottom right: Geometric Furniture For Design Days Dubai 2015

on the top right: Sculptural Seaside Installation Using Emirati Fishing Techniques

on the left: Reinterprets Ancient Weaving Craft With Misnad + Uwairyan Carpets


Marble Meets Arabesque Motifs In Aljoud Lootah’s ‘Double Square’ Series:

Figure 17: The Arabesque Patterns And Motifs Can Be Clearly Observed

on the left: ‘double square table’ Coffee Table Made From Italian Marble

on the right and bottom: ‘unfolding unity stool’ Crafted From Carrara Marble

Double Square Lamp:

Figure 18: Light Subtly Shines Through The Linear Geometries In The Marble Luminaire.

The Floor Lamp Casts A Focused Glow On The Surrounding Surfaces.


2. Nada Debs:

Figure 19: Nada Debs Curves Arabesque Chair For Design Days Dubai 2015.

handmade + heartmade

  • The brand fuses Eastern tradition and minimalism.
  • Her mission is to celebrate Eastern craftsmanship through contemporary design.

It is about reintroducing and reinterpreting local design by mixing Middle Eastern craft with Far Eastern sensibility, resulting in a fusion of East and East.

New material versus traditional techniques result in innovative local craftsmanship with a strong design element. The quest for reviving and evolving our artistic heritage reflects the spirit of the ‘local in the global’ and the ‘global in the local’ otherwise dubbed as glocal.


3. Iyad Naja:

Beirut-based Iyad Naja explored the reinvention of the table/stool at o’de rose boutique in Dubai.

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Figure 20: The combination of concrete and metal adds a further dimension to the stool.

  • Interweave Traditional Motifs With Modern Material Technologies.
  • Uses Mediums Like Concrete And Metal.
  • Sculpted Metallic Sheets Wrap Around The Exterior Façades.


4. Antakah:

Figure 21: Different tables and stools with one spirit. Bottom: GRANADA COFFEE TABLE.


A Saudi furniture brand and Interior Design Studio, founded in 2015 by Maram Mokhtar, a Saudi Interior Architect.

Mission: to provide a contemporary furniture designs inspired by our authentic Islamic arts.

After that, I have decided to look in a global perspective to search for Glocal designers using local craftsman’s and special hand made, a for example Cini Porcelain Plate, Jane Blease, Hanako coffee table & Angela Mensi.


B. Global:

1. Cini Porcelain Plate:


Figure 22: The combination between the porcelain & the mosaic.

  • Galata wooden container from AVLU collection by DAY Studio and Cini porcelain plate inspired by mosaics.
  • Istanbul Design Week.


2. Jane Blease:

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Figure 23: The Tree Lamp, Beautiful designs & quality craftsmanship, designed by Jane Blease

  • Jane Blease Design is based at The Manchester Craft and Design Centre
  • Using the sustainably sourced wood (wood venier) + intricate laser cut designs .
  • The vibrant colours used within the meticulous hand embroidery are inspired by Jane’s travels through India .
  • Jane’s work is a contemporary take on traditional embroidery.
  • The contrast of the light coming through the holes with the dark wood.


3. Hanako coffee table:

Figure 24: Coffee Table made from wood designed by Vito Selma


4. Angela Mensi:

Figure 25: Converting old sofas to return new using waste materials

  • Realizes items by mixing old and innovative techniques, using natural materials.
  • Interest in industrial waste materials, and recycling.


Reference List:


  • Weinschenk, M. S. (2011) 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People. New Riders: USA.
  • Monsa (n.d.) Green Design for Kids.
  • Jordan, P. W. (2000) Designing Pleasurable Products, Taylor & Francis Group: London.



Figures List:


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