Nol Design Studio

Every building is built upon a multitude of stories, every stone is set with the hands and strength of its carrier, every design reflects upon the creativity and culture of its author. In Palestine, manifestations of the past can be seen in every corner, from ancient places of worship, to cobbled city streets, every city, town, village, and even hills seen from afar, attests to the progression of time. In Palestine, architectural landmarks have become beacons of history, manifestations of culture, and symbols of strength and resilience. 

The landscape of major Palestinian cities are becoming dominated with modern high rises, while not necessarily a bad thing, the demolition of traditional Palestinian structures and homes that date back hundreds of years becomes problematic. This is where Nol Design Studio steps in, as the talented founders are dedicated to raising awareness about preserving cultural structures that have becomes landmarks marking the passage of time, the development of cities, and foundations of a shared Palestinian identity. 

Understanding that architecture and design play a pivotal role in the expression and preservation of Palestinian culture and heritage, Ghadeer Najjar and Shireen Salman co-founded Nol Design Studio, in 2018. Tapping into her architectural background, Ghadeer decided to turn her passion into a mission, and is working to bring Palestinian architecture and design into the forefront and start a conversation by designing modern spaces (indoor and outdoor) to initiate change. Nol, derived from the Arabic word loom, encapsulates what Nol Design Studio is all about, which is taking things back to basics and showing the patterns, motifs and aesthetics behind traditional Palestinian design, with a modern touch. 

“There are so many different styles in Palestine, they are all beautiful and represent a different element of the history of the country,” says Ghadeer Najjar. 

Nol Design Studio, is a ‘minimal but authentic design studio’ based out of Jerusalem. Offering consumers the opportunity to take an authentic piece of Palestine home, Nol Design Studio provides innovative yet minimal takes on Palestinian maps and skylines, printed onto ideal keepsakes, such as, posters, bookmarks, postcards and notebooks. Historical city skylines are selected based on their distinctive architectural designs and patterns, which include Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jericho, Nablus, Jenin, Gaza, Haifa, Nazareth and Acre. In addition, Nol Design Studio offers novelty, modern yet minimal furniture items, as well as cushions embroidered with traditional motifs, to keep the iconic symbols that have defined Palestinian art, industry and design alive. All designs, and items sold by Nol Design Studio are exclusively Palestinian made. 

However, Ghadeer explains that the current wave of local interior designers have become embedded within western aesthetics, adopting designs that disrupt the flow of a household and the way families connect with each other. Nol Design Studio, on the other hand, seeks to disrupt the status quo, and provide interior design services that embrace traditional Palestinian aesthetics to maintain the integrity and character of both newly built as well as renovated homes and offices, Ghadeer says, “Before moving to interior design, we started with furniture, creating flexible pieces that keeps the Palestinian sense but can be used in different spaces.”  

All the designs created by Nol Design Studio are created with the purpose of preserving the elements that make up Palestinian culture and heritage. According to Ghadeer, “Interior design has started to disrupt our lifestyle and culture, we are becoming disconnected with ourselves, our families, and our Palestinian identity.” As such, Nol Design Studio is working to bring back that balance to Palestinians families as well as local businesses, and create spaces that are as functional and contemporary, as they are aesthetically relevant to the culture and traditions of Palestine. 

On the significance of the work shared by Nol Design Studio, Ghadeer had this to say, “Our work connects architectural styles of historical Palestinian cities, with those throughout Bilad Al Sham, the patterns are there, you can see distinctive architectural themes repeated in many of the same cities, which actually adds depth to the historical significance of our own cities.”

The team behind Nol Design Studio is committed to expanding their outreach and raising awareness about the importance of preserving traditional Palestinian architecture. With a strong social media presence, on Facebook and Instagram, as well as a dedicated shop on Etsy, Nol Design Studio is sharing their good works and bringing Palestinian communities across the world together to celebrate their culture, and history. 

Further efforts include a series of interactive art exhibition’s entitled ‘12 Cities,’ in which, ‘architects and designers from Palestine travel through 12 Cities turning urban context into lines. Nol Design Studio reflected and introduced cities of Palestine through sketches and minimal lines in this first of its kind art exhibition.’ Observers were encouraged to take part in the exhibit and walk the lines of Palestine cities, which simultaneously seem near yet inaccessible far, due to the restrictions on movement imposed by the occupation.

Ghadeer relates that plans to expand the scope of Nol Design Studio are in constant development, and the team’s efforts towards raising awareness and sharing stories behind distinctive, architectural designs are far from over. In 2019, the Nol Design Studio platform will include a blog that shines a light on the untold stories behind historical structures that have endured over the centuries. She explains, “Palestinian culture and heritage is not very-well documented, which makes it so much more important to document our history from our own perspective.” In addition, a dedicated online shop (website) is set to launch within February of 2019, and will feature exclusive designs, prints and novelty items produced by the multitalented team behind Nol Design Studio. 

To take Nol Design Studio to the next level, the team is looking to secure 70,000 USD to sustainably expand their outreach in terms of enhancing their sales and marketing capabilities, initially within the MENA region. Funds will also be used towards digital marketing campaigns to raise brand awareness and spark interest in Palestine and abroad. 

The impact of Nol Design Studio is undeniable, not only is this socially motivated venture putting a spotlight on the rich cultural heritage that is Palestine, they are also creating opportunities for local designers and architects to work on meaningful projects that not only preserve but celebrate the integrity of Palestinian culture. 

To learn more about Nol Design Studio’s designs, products and events, please visit:
Etsy Shop:
Facebook Page: Nol@noldesignstudio
Instagram Page: Nol Design Studio@noldesignstudio 
Website: Coming soon

Written by
Leila Farraj
- Palestine
Leila Farraj is MENACatalyst’s Digital Content Strategist. Since the launch of MENACatalyst, Leila has been integral in developing and managing content that strategically reflects the overall mi... Leila Profile
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