Elie Abou Jamra and Mirna Hamady

Founded in 2011, Kashida is a Lebanese product design and furniture line inspired entirely by Arabic letterforms. Embracing the various calligraphic and typographic styles of Arabic, Kashida aims to bring out a distinct perspective of Middle Eastern culture through modern design pieces.

This design and furniture firm is driven by a mission to bridge between Arabic script and product design; that is further demonstrated in their name, 'kashida' is a technical term in Arabic script which means the elongation that bridges between two Arabic letters in a single word.

Kashida's aim is to constantly reinvent unique pieces of art which answer modern society's ergonomic and lifestyle needs and is sustained by a wholesome team of designers and skilled craftsmen, that is purely Lebanese from start to finish.

Amongst Kashida's accomplishments is winning the Entrepreneurship Challenge at TasmeemDoha (2011), the 3rd prize at Maurice Fadel Business Plan Competition (2011), being the Communication Arts Typography Annual Winner (2012), and Best MENA Startup for Non-Tech Category (2012).

Khaleejesque got together with the Mirna Hamady and Elie Abou Jamra, the co-founders and dynamic duo behind Kashida and discussed Kashida's idea and conceptualization, its product line and the brands future.

Ayn Side Table

What drove you to start Kashida?

The idea began cooking toward the end of our university years. Both Elie and I share a passion toward Arabic typography. We thought of creating something new and experimental with Arabic. Thinking of a way to bring the letter into people's homes or offices seemed extremely exciting to us.

A couple of years later, we decided to transform the idea into an actual business. We participated in two entrepreneurship competitions and became finalists in both, which encouraged us to leave our jobs to pursue Kashida full-time.

How did the Arabic language and script inspire you?

Arabic script is in essence, beautiful. Calligraphic forms are endless, and one can push Arabic to a limit where its function is to be visually appealing, and not necessarily legible. We are used to seeing Arabic script on calligraphic scrolls or facades of religions sites, always flat on a 2D surface. What if we extracted the letterform into a 3D object, making it part of our space?

Mumtad Lounge Chair

Why did you feel you had to focus on the Arabic script?

We chose Arabic because of our shared passion for it. Why use Latin script while we have such a beautiful language between our hands? Arabic script gives us so much to work with: in Arabic, the shape of the letter changes depending on the placement in the word. We have 29 Arabic letters, so that makes around 85 different shapes to use…not to mention the 9 distinct calligraphic styles that exist. The inspiration is immense!

How has the feedback been from your customers?

Upon launching, we were happy to see that people were very fond of the concept. People began contacting us, to tell us which pieces they liked most and what they would like to see in the future. The fact that our items are largely handmade by local artisans is also a positive trait consumers appreciated.

In 3 months, Kashida had created client relations between Lebanon and the Gulf. We are also working on increasing our brand presence in various retail stores worldwide.

Ta' Msharabeyeh Room Divider

What's in the future for Kashida?

Kashida's near future holds many product releases and new market expansions. Simply put, the future of the company is one driven by creativity and pushing the limits!

For more information on Kashida, check out their website. Orders can be made through there as well. Kashida have graciously offered one of their Arabic letters coaster kit to one lucky reader, enter the giveaway here!

Images courtesy of Kashida

Seen Stationary Holder
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