Kanyamakan Designs

Former fighters and adversaries become today’s artist and carpenters creating unique design items.

Once upon a time, March brought together a group of former fighters and adversaries from Jabal Mohsen and Beb el Tebbeneh in Tripoli, Lebanon. They met on the former demarcation line called “Syria Street” and worked hand in hand to break down the fictional walls of divide. Through their newfound strength and unity, they constructed their own community around innovation, art and creativity, away from the shackles of sectarianism and violence. These youth’s journey has been marked by incredible resilience and inspiring determination. They conceived these carefully crafted design items as a symbol of their power and ability to take ownership over their lives. By adopting their items you are contributing to supporting them and spreading their message of love and acceptance.

This is a story of love and war… this is a story of hope and new beginnings…this is a story that is still being written.

Carpentry, sewing and tailoring have always been well renowned crafts in Tripoli. They are some of the most famous professions that helped the communities in the area to flourish, develop and become well known for their skills in creating clothing and wood furniture items. The sectarian clashes that took place in Tripoli up until 2014, have negatively affected these industries that has been striving to keep afloat.

Combining furniture making, and fashion design with rehabilitation and reintegration:

In order to revive these crafts and as part of MARCH’s rehabilitation and reintegration program, Kanyamakan hub, MARCH’s community center in Tripoli, is developing the skills of youth from the formerly warring neighborhoods of  Jabal Mohsen and Beb el Tebbeneh through various vocational trainings to teach them to create furniture, accessories and clothing items all the while recounting their stories of love and war. On the job training in furniture making, furniture upcycling, wood painting, calligraphy, hand embroidery, fashion design, sewing, and upholstery are hosted in the hub’s spaces, with the support of talented artists and trainers who mentor the youth and help them develop their skills.

Kanyamakan Designs is an opportunity for these youth to create economic sustainability for themselves while reviving their communities through a well appreciated craftsmanship in their neighborhoods. And today they are replacing war, hatred and sectarian divides, with love, innovation, art, and creativity.

The Story of Change
hand painted low tables- part of the “Alphabetic Harmonies” collection
Hand painted low table- Part of the “Animistic Virtues” Collection
hand embroidered and painted cushion- Part of the “Animistic Virtues” Collection

I was so happy to have spend two weeks with these young men. They were so dedicated and fascinated by the project. We called it “Sawa” meaning together

Bram Kerkhofs, Belgium designer
Bram with the Youth
Youth Receiving Bram’s Instructions
The “Sawa” Chair

I was excited to learn something new in carpentry especially that Bram introduced new techniques which are rarely found in Lebanon. ”

Youth from the program

Reviving forgotten furniture:

“I left school when I was 8. Then I spent my youth fighting because I was told: the other is an enemy! He is another, don’t trust him. Now I know it was all a lie.” 

Youth from the program

Kanyamakan designs : Untold stories of love and war

Kanyamakan designs’ first collection was created in partnership with Nataly Salemeh: After collecting abandoned furniture from Tripoli, the youth were taught to upcycle and refurbish each item under her supervision. 5 different collections were created since then: the wisdom in wilderness collection, the love and war collection, the Beirut collection, Tripoli’s chronicles collection and the animistic virtues collection. In the designs executed the youth, former enemies and fighters, are crafting their stories of love and war, working together to build a better future for themselves with the opportunities offered by this initiative.

Refurbished Furniture

Old objects have a history. They carry with them the imprint and memories of the people who used them. By restoring them we are giving them a new life. A bit like these young people who were also neglected in the past. They also have their story to write or paint. All they need is people to believe in them” 

Nataly Salameh
Collection Dedicated to Beirut
From Their Hearts to Beirut

This is a story of love and war… This is a story of hope and new beginnings…This is a story that is still being written