Interview// Local Industries, Elias Anastas
On a quest to upgrade the modern furniture design scene in Palestine and the region and with a range of products that competes in the international market; Elias Anastas along with Yousef Anstas recently had a very successful exhibition in Salone Internazionale del Mobile – Milan showcasing their brand Local Industries.
HKZ recently talked with Elias Anstas discussing the brand Local Industries, the craftsmanship and the exhibition.
Interviewed by Mohammad Jabi
MJ: As an architect, how did you become interested in furniture design and what can you add to this industry?
EA: The aim was to build a network based on both complicity and know how. We believe that between the very upscale and the standardization, there should be alternatives offering affordable and well-designed objects to a wider public.
Contemporary design space is very much limited and is oriented towards a very thin part of the public. LOCAL INDUSTRIES is looking towards this middle market.
We faced this problematic through our ongoing architecture projects, were the selection of affordable furniture fitting in the restricted budgets of public operations is not an easy task.
MJ: Tell us more about Local Industries – How do you describe the collection?
EA: Local Industries gravitates around architecture, craftsmanship, sustainable design and collective production processes. Each item of our collection is developed through an intensive relationship with our artisans.
The conception and productions of furniture happens through a constant back-and-forth between all the agents thus undermining the usual boundaries which separate conception from production.
Our collection is imagined and produced in a process that is similar to our architecture production. We are not designers, we are architects producing design.
MJ: What do you think about the current state of furniture,lighting and home ware design in Palestine?
EA: Its nearly not existing.
MJ: Regarding the political situation in Palestine in particular with the migration of the artisans to neighboring countries do you think that the craft is in danger?
EA: We have amazing craftsmen in Palestine with unique, locals techniques and approaches. There is an important richness in the region that has not been explored much in terms of contemporary industrial design.
We think it is always possible to find new ways to subtract these traditional crafts to make them bold and contemporary. It’s also a way to preserve them, craft is in danger since few years.
Bethlehem area is renowned for its highly skilled artisans, working stone, wood and steel, but the tourism industry and its market is slowly wiping them out.
MJ: There’s a definite need in the market for Palestinian products that compete with the Israeli (available and cheap) options, what are your thoughts on this and how do you compete in the local and international market?
EA: We do not compete with the cheap options from Israel. The idea behind Local Industries is to offer affordable pieces created in Palestine with traditional crafts and know hows, generating particular objects. The techniques of the artisans formulates the first parameters of the design.
MJ: You’ve mentioned that the conception stems from the means of production and in return the means of production adapt accordingly, how do you describe your experience so far since you’ve started in 2011 in terms of production?
EA: The very first collection was imagined for the Edward Said National Conservatory new building we designed in Bethlehem. Two months before the end of the construction, we had a phone call from the client informing us of the remaining very little budget left for the furniture. They were considering to import the furniture from China. We suggested to continue our adventure with artisans of the building to develop collectively the entire furniture of the building, using local know hows and available materials. The challenge was to fit into our restricted budget, and it worked out! Finally we’re very happy we faced a financial issue that turned into an asset. In the common process, all means are used to achieve a design, regardless of the energy consumed to fabricate the end product. The idea of LI is to use local know hows and the privileged relation to artisans to minimize that energy consumption. The path between design and production turns from linear to a more associative non linear process.
MJ: Local Industries was selected to be part of “ventura lambrate 2014” in Milano during the Salone Internazionale del mobile. Is this is the first time you exhibit in an international event? And what other plans do you have for the future?
Ventura Lambrate was our first exhibition. Local Industries was launched in 2011, but was operating for specific operations in relation to our architecture. We decided this year to open our collection to a larger market.
We are planning an exhibition of our first collection in Palestine sometime between end of june and beginning of july, under the form of a pop up gallery in an abandoned house of the late 30’s in Bethlehem.
At the image of our collective conception and production process, we will invite artists, musicians, chefs to take part in this first launching event.
We are planning as well to exhibit in London in September during the design fair.
For previous article about AAU Anastas click here
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