I am just one of the people who founded this edgeryders in 2013 do mostly the tech part in the platform, right now in Germany living in a truck, on the call in the truck based on solar electricity
and have some side project in Nepal will be going to live there soon may be for longer.
from California but my family is from Egypt , study political science and literature, got involved in social health and social innovation and currently in Berlin.
coordinating this calls in edgeryders community and have different interests in urban research and development.
@islem joined us as well in the discussion part.
from Tunisia originally from south from Gabes , known for being an oasis that has a view on the coast it is the only one in the world , studied industrial design and a self-taught illustrator, worked a bit as a designer but the industrial design mentality is not implemented in Tunisia, switching between illustrator jobs, member of the comic con community in Tunisia , the 3rd edition is this year with game of of thrones theme.
I got re-interested in handicrafts after doing a project with GIZ, they do some work on economic development and one of the sectors was the handcraft sector, the project was focused on 2 regions, 1 in the top north and one in the middle south; we did a brief phase of immersion with the women handicrafters and we heard their stories and challenges, a lot of them were illiterate but very ambitious.
2 things that marked me :
- the amount of knowledge they had about our cultural heritage, but they have no inheritance, as the young generation is not interested in the field as it is not profitable,so you have one master and then when he/she dies the art is dead.
- I started to document in Tunis, made 2 experiment with 2 handcrafters in Tunisia then I noticed that it is the same situation in Africa, but it is misrepresented, as a lot of people think of Africa as one country or one homogeneous place and have no idea on the different constituents.
with TANDA is diversity in tamazigh language,I aim to preserve and modernize the African Handicraft Culture heritage.
By doing 2-3 month impressive experience where 2 designers, a videographer and a historian divided in 2 phases.
- one is coliving where the handicrafters share their know how and history of the discipline they are working in basically the TANDA team will do some observation to gather the data.
- then go to the codesign phase , where all of us joining forces and cowork and co design products; mostly furniture and recreational products that will be purchasable in any place that want to have an African theme, showcased on a web-platform as a digital museum and a digital archive.
One of the things that I have noticed, is after these experiences is that the designer is the one who gets all the economic benefits and fame, and we want to give attributions and benefits to the actual handicrafter, so the product will have either their names as a brand or will see another way for doing this.
and all the data will be purchasable in MOOCs or toys or video games to make Africans and all the people around the world to know about their heritage through an alternative educational model.
That’s TANDA for now.
what I was doing this period of time, is to start the project seriously in Tunisia , either starting as an organization or as a firm, but the thing is with the startup act and all the things around it, it will only be applicable in 2019 , I was doing the work individually with the same women that I know from the GIZ experience.
they work in weaving techniques in general and I got all to know the symbols and patterns, ….now trying to produce 3 independent product with these women, It is all about me going to spend some days in Gafsa to make it work, it is getting kinda heavy on my pocket but I am catching up with doing some works in UX UI design
Q & A
1- hazem : Do you have a map of handicraft in Africa, which regions are known for which art, how are you going to map and track this ?
I have the map of the ancient African empires.
My 1st approach was to track the actual countries of Africa; Nigeria Ghana , Benin…etc but with colonization and if you want the track heritage u need to track the ethnic groups in Africa
what happened that all the homogeneous ethnic groups were divided and that’s how the new composition of Africa is done
example: the Nuk empire, now the region is between Benin and Nigeria , they used to be one homophones mostly known for bronze and gold casting techniques , in 2017 they actually got one big statue of their kings from Britain.
I wanna make it in a more optimized way, just tracking the original ethnic groups, as they have the social collective that’s were the true knowledge is.
2- hazem : How to Represent the knowledge you already have from Gafsa ?
At first we are making 3 rugs- The women are , Zeina, Tashria and Dahbia meaning the beautiful one, the wise one, and the golden one – after we realize the product showcase them in the Tunisian international handcraft show, and from that we will work on getting positive feedback and the help from the office to showcase them in international handcraft shows like the ones in Milan, Frankfurt and [a City in the US – please add ] and will see what happens from now on.
3-Shajara: when the project catch up and you a have showcase , how to be financially stable ?
Products will be mostly furniture and recreational ones , will try to target people in hotels restaurants, discos , luxury houses, hostels, any big space that needs a very creative interior design work and convince them with our product and if they are gonna purchase as it is a big space, so it will be big like 15 rug per space or so.
will give the handcrafts per royalties and will build up from that, that that will be the prototype to catch investors and funders to have more financial capabilities to upscale
the 2 designers will be fresh graduate designers, it is from experience as fresh graduate they get shocked in the market as the things we learned doesn’t fit the market , so it is something that they get knowledge and get to work in the domain as well,
4- Shajara : on MOOCs what pedagogy and how are you building it in a way to be replicated ?
since I am working on UX UI design it requires a lot of work , one product could require 4- 6 months of work.
It depends on what the target would be primary schools or scholars themselves or teenagers , it requires a lot of work to get fine results.
when I collect the data from Tunisia there are 4 major regions, I then begin to work on the transfiguration of all that data.
It is also related to money , when we get the financial help we need, I can work on transfiguration of data on the same time.
5- shajara: do u know other projects working on the same in Africa ? as there are the same situation in Asia and Latin America as well
don’t know about handicrafts, but I know there are a lot in the general cultural heritage and monuments but not focused on the handcrafts heritage.
There is some tiny projects collaborations between designers and handircafters, like one designer go to Senegal or Benin for some time and then gets the credits of the product without mentioning the story behind the product.
6- Matthias : about target markets I like the idea of targeting hotels u want to do this in the same country or want to export as well to countries were there is a good exchange rate ?
I got this idea of making a hostel or a lodge house that will be decorated with all the products that we collected form a certain space in Tunisia so it will be a space were the products showcased and decorated the place, but I don’t know how it could be financialy feasible.
That’s why I got to go for hotels and restaurants.
but the optimal is whenever we finish In a region the final product are showcased in the digital archive and a place were people can get a tangible feeling of the project itself.
7- shajara : what are your needs right now ?
basically I gathered 2 fellow designers that believe in the cause I have a video editor as well but still don’t have a historian, as I need a creditability that will convenience a historian to join in this journey , as in Tunisia there is not a large no of historians that focus on handicrafts, not in a detailed way.
The Tunisian office of handicraft has some data collected over the years, still in paper, a great part of it is in really a bad shape, it is a lot of bureaucratic work and paper work to let me get to the data and I am sure they wouldn’t let me in.
I need financial boost. To be able to pay the handicrafteres, I have a decent handicrafters network in Tunisia but I can’t make them engage with me in a work based on false promises or promises that I will not be able to keep, ethicaly and to be working effectively that’s what I need the most.
[ please add what you see missing ]
how much money are we taking about ?
sofien: Just for the start. Would be around 5k Euro just to make an immersive experience and pay the handicrafters and pay the video editor and the historian. The designers are going to get knowledge and produce products…but also to have the space to showcase the products for a longer term.
matthias : So may be that’s a minimal case for getting an investor in the early stages, as they can have a share from the final product, and then the 5k is not a problem that could be done via crowdfunding.
shajara : crowdfunding , start before producing products so it is safe for handicrafters and give tangible products like jewelery for crowfunders. ( already Sofien produced some jewelery parts based on an old technique but didn’t work as a good hook to attract investors for the rugs or other handicrafts )
sofien : I have noticed different kickstarter campaings, to make people purchase products before manufacturing u need to make a fancy video with good 3d visualization. I have never done a campaign before and one other element is crowd funding is not legal but it is ok we can get the moeny via an account abroad, but may be this is the most accessible method.
Islem : crowd funding is not allowed in Tunisia.
Sofien : it is feasible by making an account abroad and make the connection from there, it is not legal from Tunisia in Tunisia but via abroad account it is feasible.
matthias : U could run the crowd funding campaign via edgeryders, were you sell the products to edgeryders in this case it is legally ok.
sofien : I am into this idea. Ok we can start doing this on the platform
I will figure out a way to get the money and start working on the design and production of the 6 rugs ( 3 in Tunisia and 3 for abroad ) and may be I can figure out a way how to implement these rugs with some furniture. And that’s a good start.
Next step to know how much do u need for the 1st iteration for the rugs and based on that u can set the no of earrings that you have…working on the math, on how much products you can make and how many you can produce and timing of the delivery.
I have been applying as well to many mentoring competitions and grants and idea pitching contests around the MENA and African region and I am still waiting from some responses, finger crossed if I am lucky enough to get accepted to get the project going on steadier foot.