I graduated with a degree in linguistics, and between the random languages that we've looked into, I've concluded that Arabic is by far the most captivating, the most beautiful, and the most complex of them all (yes, obviously I'm biased). I may not be able to string a poetic, easy-on-the-ear Arabic sentence, but I appreciate it monumentally and wish I was able to pen my blog using my mother language. But alas...
So, as a linguist, design enthusiast, and of course, as an Arab, I admire and value the work Kashida is doing by placing the Arabic language at the root of their vision. It was founded in 2011 in Lebanon by Mirna Hamady and Elie Abou Jamra and has quickly become an acclaimed product design studio creating furniture and home accessories based on 3D Arabic typography.
"The term 'kashida' is the glyph that bridges between two Arabic letters in a single word," the duo writes on their website.
If you're seeking the modest, handmade piece - this isn't it. The team behind Kashida have worked super hard within the past few years to turn their brand into, well, a Brand - a full-fledged one where you can order online, customize your pieces, so on and so forth. Kashida also does large-scale commissioned projects, collaborate with interior designers and architects, and ship worldwide. In the Lebanese retail world, that's making it HUGE! So I extend my wholehearted congratulations to the team, who, as a plus, turned an idea into reality using their own funds.
I got the chance to ask Kashida a few questions.
Bana Bissat: What do you find to be the most impressive feature of the Arabic language?
Kashida: Its written form; calligraphy is an art form and not merely a linguistic tool. Arabic offers us the chance to abstract forms and create beautiful pieces which transcend linguistics and exist in its own realm of pure art.
نعمة (grace, mercy)
BB: What fonts have you been using in your designs? Are any of them created by Kashida?
K: All our typography is created by Kashida, since each product requires its own typographic approach, transforming script to become a functional design object. Of course, scripts we draw are based on the main calligraphic styles: Kufic, Maghribi, Diwani, etc.
م (the letter M)
BB: Can you tell me a bit more about Kashida's partnerships with interior designers and architecture companies?
K: We are an e-commerce portal with points of sale across the region, and we ship worldwide. For our furniture line, we have commission-based partnerships with interior designers, who request items from both our existing designs as well as custom-made pieces.
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BB: What have been your most successful design(s) to date?
K: We are always testing new designs, but our classic pieces are a success. For example, the Helem Bookcase, the Ahlan w Sahlan Tray, Mother's Day gifts, etc.
الجنة تحت أقدام الأمهات (paradise is under mothers' feet)
أهلاً وسهلاً (welcome!)
BB: You sell your products on KashidaDesign.com and deliver them worldwide. Has online shopping been a common method of purchase of your products in Lebanon?
K: Yes, we market our online portal as our primary selling channel. Kashidadesign.com is our gateway to the world, since we ship worldwide (GCC, USA, Australia, Africa).
ما شاء الله (Masha'Allah: a saying of praise in the name of God)
BB: If you had to 'thank' a single country for your success, which one would it be?
K: Several countries have influenced our success, be it in our design methodology or our business model. Early on, we participated in several business plan competitions regionally and even in Paris; each experience has given us insight on the way we do business. Of course, Arab countries play a huge role in design inspiration, be it through found calligraphy, calligrapher's experimentations, and even dialects and jargon which pour into the design research and development of Kashida.
BB: What's in the future for Kashida?
K: More of everything. More business services, more designs, more points of sale, and more expansion. Not to sound too cliché, but this is really only the tip of the iceberg!
Go check out Bana's blog Bananapook!