Title: Réseau Femmes Artisanes
Type of work: Graphic design / branding and cultural studies
Date: October 2012 - January 2013
Extent of the project: 10 weeks, full-time
Réseau Femmes Artisanes is a network of women working with handicraft in Marrakech and its outskirts, for whom I designed a new visual identity. This project — part graphic design and part cultural studies — revolves around Moroccan graphic design and how visual languages and aesthetic traditions are culturally conditioned. My cultural studies and visual research of Morocco’s non-Western aesthetics laid the foundation for a visual cross-cultural design. As part of the project, I facilitated two workshops with representatives from Réseau Femmes Artisanes, drawing on co-design and human-centered design dialogue tools.
The final design is bilingual, and a combination of Western and Moroccan aesthetics in a cross-cultural visual language. The pompon resembles the stature of a woman, and refers to traditional Moroccan handicrafts as well as most of Réseau Femmes Artisanes’ products.
To get closer to the predominant aesthetic sense in Morocco, I researched and studied first-hand Moroccan and Arabic design characteristics. This was part of the design itself. The outcome of the visual research — consisting of photographic observations, notes from conversations with Moroccan artisans as well as historical research — is a series of small, unpretentious booklets.
With the aim of understanding the women and their ideas of aesthetics and self-identity, I held two workshops in Marrakech. During these workshops, a series of questions were discussed with the help of different types of workshop cards and a ‘rating’ system that helped overcome the language and communication barriers. It was important that the women could see themselves mirrored in the new identity. The concept with pompons as a symbol of a group of handicraft women was chosen — by them. I sketched and experimented visually with different ways of illustrating the pompon to find the right balance of Moroccan aesthetics with a Western touch.