A Glimpse of Design in Libya with KASHIDA Media Services

Following Donald Trump’s unlawful immigration ban of seven predominantly Muslim countries, we here at The Dieline have been trying to figure out what we can do to help. We have marched, we have donated, and we have called our Senators and reps (and hope you do, too). And now, in an effort to promote an understanding of the cultures, we’ve connected with design agencies and designers in these seven countries.

Hopefully these insightful Q&As highlight the need for diversity in all aspects of life, and also show that while our day-to-day lives may be very different, we are united in our humanity. For our first post in this series, KASHIDA, an agency in Libya, spoke with us about the culture of the country, life under dictatorship, and the importance of doing amazing work.

ps if you are or happen to know agencies or designers in any of the seven countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen), please reach out to us directly: theresa@dielinemedia.com

First of all, tell us a little bit about your agency and your team.

About KASHIDA

KASHIDA is a Libyan Creative Design Company, working in the field of graphics and web design and provide its services by creating “Logo, Corporate identity, Brand packaging and Web Design” to its clients., based in Misurata, Libya. Founded & led by Mrwan B. elGobee. The company opened its doors under the name Kashida Media Services Co. Ltd.

The meaning of KASHIDA

The Kashida is a type of justification used in some cursive scripts related to Arabic. This increases the length of a line of text by expanding spaces between words or individual letters. It is a simple tool that does not change the meaning of the word, but it re-described by making writing more consistent at the end of the line. So, we chose the name KASHIDA to be an expression of our vision in the design work, the end result is not the creation of new things, but to make things more effective.

What is your design philosophy at Kashida Media Services?

KASHIDA: The design philosophy in KASHIDA is to try to work and combine art and business, and to assist in the development of the level of this type of business in Libya.

You work in many different aspects of design. Can you share any design trends that you’ve seen pop up in Libya lately?

KASHIDA: Most of our business specializes in the field of corporate identity and its design applications (product package design, ads, website design).

In Libya it was initially with outdoor advertising in 2009, and with the development of the economic sector and the emergence of local factories, there has been large needs market for labels and packages design. In recent years after the revolution in 2011, there has become a booming market in the field of web design.

In general, the commercial designs market in Libya is a new market, and it did not grow well into the past 7-10 years even though printing was available before this time. But because there are no real professional marketing companies in the market which can manage the ad operations more innovative and scientific.

What are some of the unique cultural aspects of Libya? What role does Libyan culture play in your design work?

KASHIDA: There is a big difference between Libya as a geographic area and the population. In an area of 700,000 square miles, less than 6 million people live in it—divided among 5 different races, and in the areas between the spaced apart sections, this created a great cultural diversity and spacing intellectual sort. That's what makes it difficult to design ideas in Libya, and when you attempt to do the design you must address all of these different segments.

How? One of the biggest differences is the dialects—each area has its style of speech, and has its the special cultural habits, and from here it is the duty to study each area prior to any design it so that we can bring the best result to converge the people accept in every location

What are some of the biggest challenges you face living in Libya? What about with running a design agency there?

KASHIDA: On a personal level, the biggest challenge and the problem in Libya is the telecommunications' sector and banks. Both in the reign of Muammar Gaddafi and after the events of 2011, it was and still is difficult to transfer or receive money from outside Libya. For example, we do not have a Visa or MasterCard. We cannot make transfer of funds through banking. Communications suffer from permanent problems, there are no sources to provide support and investment, and all of this limits our ability to enter international markets or to communicate with companies and business owners around the world.

The problem has recently worsened with the onset of the economic collapse as a result of the civil war. Additionally, administrative corruption and the lack of honest government or real support from the United Nations to help the Libyan people to recover Libya as a state again.

As an example: an Arab proverb says, “The worst disaster is the one that brings laughter.” Until now I do not have the ability even to create a PayPal account to buy what I need for programs and designs resources, so I am still grateful to the TNT Express company and its office in Libya who has helped me in the payment and shipping of my SONY computer from the US market.

Tell us about one of your favorite packaging or branding projects that you’ve worked on.

KASHIDA: One of the most important work that we cherish is the design identity of ALWAHA PAINTS. It is a Libyan company was founded in 1989 and specialized in the field of painting. I had the privilege to work with them beginning in 2013 to redesign the entire corporate identity and brand, the work has been ranked as one of the best packaging designs over the world by Packaging of The World Website.

When looking for design inspiration, where do you turn? What inspires you and your team? (websites, museums, theater, etc.?)

KASHIDA: The internet changed the course of our life.

Like any dictator, Gaddafi was trying over 42 years to blur the identity of the Libyan people and make them culturally ignorant. All cinemas and theaters had been closed, Western musical instruments were burned, books and international magazines were confiscated. All that to take us away from rest of the world, and who was see it as our enemy as the extremist religious groups do today in the name of Islam.

Personally, I am from a 70s generation—I watch western media, Rambo and Star Wars movies, I listen to rock and country music, I like reading history and science books. So the Internet is what makes me and the majority of Libyan youth connected with all things that we like when it disappeared from our streets. The internet is what gave us all the things that could not be found in our next door.

How do you hope to make people feel through your design work?

KASHIDA: We feel that making a local work rise to a global level is a little help to make people feel that there are those who can live amid the rubble. Although we are working without resources, we design with happiness and work with passion.

We all believe that a bright future for Libya will come someday. We will not stop to despair and will continue to make the works that we like, because it is a greatest service to our nation and our country.