Fatima Hasan is a 26 year-old Bahraini woman, living and working abroad in London. Having recently finished her Masters in Product and Space Design, not to mention a stint working in Hong Kong’s bustling field of interior design, she is now set up to live the life…just as she designed it. Despite a design background that is primarily in product and interiors, she also enjoys practicing other design disciplines on the side, including illustrations and bookbinding. When not designing, she is most likely to be found in the kitchen whipping up a batch of chocolate fudge brownies-her new favorite.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your work?
I’m really interested in the stories behind designs. In a lot of my projects, I spend a considerable amount of time working on a strong narrative to justify my work. It adds an interesting perspective and can generate a more powerful connection with the viewer or user. Sometimes an object so simple, can have a huge backstory, and that’s when I begin to appreciate the design a lot more. In terms of my inspiration, I am currently inspired by domestic life. More specifically, private instances that happen within the home that outsiders don’t get to see often.
What is your favorite project you have worked on?
It would most definitely have to be my final masters project. I began with the idea of disorder within the home. People are so obsessed with portraying themselves as being neat and tidy to others, and find it necessary to go clean-up crazy on their homes at the notice of unexpected visitors. It is these personal moments that define who you are, and it should not be considered a terrible mess, but a personal organization, created by the user and catered to them specifically. To me, I find these types of mess beautiful and wanted to reveal to others the beauty behind this disorder.
I am particularly attached to this project because of the cultural reference I incorporated into it. The design of the pegs themselves, are derived from the armrest detail of the Bahraini ‘dacha’, a bench found in local cafes. During the hot summers in Bahrain, men would take off their ghitra and agal (Arabic headdress) and temporarily hang them on this armrest detail. I liked the fact that this somehow had a connection with my project, so I took this specific detail, and decided to morph it into an item for hanging clothes, rather than something it was not originally meant to be used for.
What do you find most different about work inside and outside of the Arab world?
In my opinion, art and design is still a fresh concept back home (I’m going to focus on Bahrain, because places like Dubai are in the process of getting the design field booming). Not that much credit is given to gifted designers, simply because there’s not much of a market to get their work out there. For that reason, I don’t feel I could go back to Bahrain at this very moment and start up a product design company.
People often tell me that since there aren’t many unique product design companies in Bahrain, it can be seen as a prime opportunity for me to start it myself, and create some sort of revelation. If I’m being perfectly honest, I’m still young, and don’t yet feel I have the drive to be able to do that. Before I begin to work for myself, I want to work for others, and I want to do it here in London where a field like this is already fully established. I think that working with like-minded individuals in a team will help build my design confidence, and at the same time, give me the chance to make good contacts in the design industry. Once I feel I have completed that chapter of my life, I can then make the move back to the Middle East and begin to do what people are telling me to do now, with the confidence and drive needed to do so.
Explain some differences in the different countries you have worked in and how you and your work have been received in different countries.
Apart from the Middle East and Bahrain, I spent 1 year in Hong Kong working for an interior design company. I wasn’t given much creative license there. I was working on a lot of CAD drawings for the refurbishment of apartments and restaurants. It wasn’t really a chance for me to get my work out, but just a chance for me to gain good work experience in a new environment. Hong Kong is a manic city, even more fast-paced than London. It took me a bit of getting used to, but once I settled in, I couldn’t have been happier living there. But in terms of design prospects, again like Bahrain (perhaps not to the same extent) I didn’t think I could progress, which is what pushed me to move back to London, where things felt more right.
What is your favorite thing about where you live now?
The fact that there is always something do to. There’s no such thing as boredom in London. As long as you’ve got a good set of friends to enjoy it with, you’re always guaranteed to have a good time.
What is the worst thing about where you live?
It’s probably a generic response from all people living in London, but it has got to be the weather! I do enjoy the odd gray and rainy day: it’s what gives London its character, but I just wish it could be a bit warmer. My Arab blood doesn’t quite suit cold climates!
Finish this: “In one year from now, my work will be…”
better than last year!!!
For more information on Fatima’s work you can find her online at www.fatimahasan.com