Design

3 Lebanese Product Designers we Should be Proud of!

Living in between Lebanon and Ghana I got a first-hand experience on how culture affects people and how it is a crucial part of their daily lives. From general norms and habits to little details in their lifestyles and eating habits, I was constantly in awe observing, and fascinated by the differences I experienced and witnessed before me.

During my last 6 years in Lebanon,  I kept a close eye on the ways in which artisanal product design was booming in Lebanon be it in Fashion or Furniture. Although Lebanese have many differences, yet it seems the 10,452 km2 space is almost unanimously united around their heritage and their appreciation of Lebanese craftsmanship.  

Hence, this blog post is dedicated to 3 inspiring Lebanese Designers who have left their mark in the industry, revived local craftsmanship and making a name for themselves internationally.

1. Sarah’s Bag

Sarah Beydoun is the dynamic and determined founder of Sarah’s Bag. Sarah’s Bag is a “one of a kind luxury handbags fashion house and social enterprise that empower both women who make them and wear them” (Sarah’s Bag, 2016). Beydoun started her business conducting a research for one of her university classes in Beirut.

Photo Credits: https://shop.sarahsbag.com/en/home

Photo Credits: https://shop.sarahsbag.com/en/home

The viability of her talent lies in her business model that allowed her to create jobs for less privileged women from all corners of Lebanon by involving them in the bag making process. Sarah’s Bag started off as a mere initiative to empower women through feasible signature skills of hand beading, crochet and embroidery. Hence, with every bag bought, the designer was trying to tell and sell a story, which added to the desirability and uniqueness of the brand.

Photo Credits: https://shop.sarahsbag.com/en/home

Photo Credits: https://shop.sarahsbag.com/en/home

Nowadays, due to high demands, Sarah’s Bags are considered art pieces and not just crochet bags. The designer has managed to perfectly fit her culture and heritage in every collection she has made this far. Among the celebrities who have worn her pieces are: Queen Rania of Jordan, and Amal Clooney. The designer will continue with her line and mission to maintain ancient traditional techniques alive and fresh by using them to portray modern design.

2. Vanina

Another Lebanese brand making its way in the fashion scene and harnessing local craftsmanship is Vanina. Tatiana Fayad and Joanne Hayek are two young inspirational ladies and childhood friends oozing with creativity.  They started their own jewelry line by reviving the design of old Lebanese coins and they have now successfully grown into Vanina, a remarkable brand that offers women accessories, jewelry and apparel that are proudly created, sourced and produced in Lebanon.

Photo Credits: http://vanina.me/

Photo Credits: http://vanina.me/

Through Vanina, the talented duo was able to create synergy between fashion and “sustainability. “Vanina’s backstage is a social project, that aims at promoting community development through the valorization of local craftsmanship and industry” (vanina.me).

Hence, what started off as a childhood dream soon grow to become a successful proudly Lebanese label currently distributed across the five continents.

Photo Credits: http://vanina.me/

Photo Credits: http://vanina.me/

3. Nada Debs

From the fashion scene, we move to furniture design with the talented Nada Debs. Raised in Japan, Nada Debs always believed “in the handmade and the heartmade” (Nada Debs). She is an artist that does not only work with her hand but with her heart. She believes that the heart is what creates, what tells the story and what guides her to preserve the narrative and culture through desirability.

Photo Credits: https://www.nadadebs.com/en/home

Photo Credits: https://www.nadadebs.com/en/home

Debs started her career as an interior architect student at Rhodes Islands School of Design in the United States. She opened her showroom in 2004 that specializes in designing, manufacturing and selling furniture and home accessories made in Lebanon.
 

Photo Credits: https://www.nadadebs.com/en/home

Photo Credits: https://www.nadadebs.com/en/home

Her rich cultural background and her passion for the crafts of the Middle East, namely the mother of pearl inlay, hand carving and perforation allowed her to find new ways to apply the different techniques in contemporary furniture-- and thus, leave her mark on the furniture industry in Lebanon and the middle east.

Updates

Ar-Stylish: An Elegant Logo

Recently, Blue Hat took on the challenge of revamping the existing logo of renowned fashion Saudi blogger “Ar-Stylish”and include a small animation for it. Her previous logo was purely typographical, and after discussing the matter with her to understand her vision, we have agreed to keep it as such.

Ar-Stylish original logo 

Ar-Stylish original logo 

Ar-Stylish new logo by Blue Hat

Ar-Stylish new logo by Blue Hat

Also a magazine fashion editor, Ar-Stylish was known for her editorial-style fashion blog that provided style tips and fashion insights for Saudi trendsetters and fashion enthusiasts. As a result, the direction of her new logo was inspired by the likes of Alexander McQueen and Yves Saint Laurent. 

Ar-Stylish stand-alone logo

Ar-Stylish stand-alone logo

With simple typography, the “Ar” was strategically placed in the curve of the “S” in “Stylish”, creating a sophisticated and elegant design. The “T” was merged with the “S” giving the overall look and feel of the logo a sense of sophistication and mystery, allowing the final shape to transform into a stand-alone logo. 

The black was chosen instead of the original navy blue s it is a classic and eternal color and is always adopted by major fashion houses.

Taking into consideration the major point of focus of blogger "Ar-Stylish" coupled with proper research, Blue Hat was able to provide a simple yet chic uplift to a traditional
typographic logo.

Ar-Stylish logo simulation on the blog

Ar-Stylish logo simulation on the blog

We will leave you with the small animated video of the final logo and video from Ar-Stylish's herself to see how she used it. We hope you like it as much as we do.

 

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3 Tools to Help Non-Designers Use Empathy to Innovate!

In recent years keywords such as: “persona” and “empathy” have been trending in the User-Centric Design world (1). Unfortunately, however, in today’s global marketplace, when some of the big companies are asked to define their target audience,  it’s shocking to see how many business owners and marketing managers don’t have a clear answer of who they are targeting. As industry experts, we often come across marketing managers who define their target audience as the “general public”. Some would even use our all-time-favorite: “everyone, everywhere” when filling our brief and setting their target audience.

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Little do they know that when one tries to communicate to everyone and anyone, one ends up with a message that resonates with NO ONE
— Battarbee, Katja et.al

At Blue Hat, our aim is to utilize design as a thinking process through which we can empower businesses by helping them understand, identify and respond to their target audience’s needs. Through our “design empathy” research approach, we try to help our clients identify those needs by drawing “upon people’s real-world experiences to address modern challenges" (2). As part of our brand ethos, we, Blue Hatters, firmly believe that:

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Only when companies allow a deep emotional understanding of their target audience’s needs that they can inspire and ultimately innovate
— Battarbee, Katja et.al

Now, in theory, all of this sounds great. However, if you have managed to follow me this far you must be wondering about the process we adopt in order to zero in on our clients’ target audience and identify their needs. The answer is simple: We do so by using these 3 simple tools: User Personas, Empathy Mapping, and Extreme Personas.

1. Start by Creating a User Persona from your Target Audience

a. Define your target audience: End-Users vs. Customers

The first thing one needs to understand when defining a target audience is to differentiate between “customer” and “user”. That is learning how to separate the people giving you money, who are known as “customers” from the people using your product/service, and who are generally known as “end-users”.  Often, the people using your product/service might not be the people paying for it”(3) . An easy exercise to help you note the differences is to consider yourself as a pet shop owner. While your services and products are used by pets  (your end-users),  nevertheless, your aim is to appeal to their owners (your customers), who will eventually pay for those services/products. Given the product/service at hand your aim here is to focus on your customer rather than your end-user.

End-User: Dog vs Customer: Dog Owner - Image Source:  wcvh.com.au

End-User: Dog vs Customer: Dog Owner - Image Source: wcvh.com.au

b. Create a user persona

Once your target audience is set, you will need to create your persona (s). Personas are inspired from real people with backgrounds, goals, and values. They are a fabricated model of end-users that are created to identify motivations, expectations, and goals by determining demographics, attributes, and needs (4). Think of your persona as a singular icon representative of an entire group within your target audience.  Personas can only be built after an exhaustive observation of the potential users (4)

For example, if you are designing a new customer-journey experience at the ER, then, you need to visualize your persona.  She could be: 

Demographics:

Name: Hanna  

Age: 31 

Lives in Beirut

Occupation: 3rd grade teacher  

Marital status: Married (husband works overseas)  

Children: 1 (7 months old boy)

Lifestyle: Busy Schedule

Behavior: Moderately web savvy - Worries too much - She is  OCD -  Has not achieved a right balance between work and home just yet.

Attributes: She recently completed her maternity leave - Her child just started teething, which is leaving him with a mild fever, always irritated and fussing, refusing food and having sleep problems.

Needs: Hanna wants to ensure that her newborn will have access to proper medical assistance, especially at night when things always get worse and she is alone.

c. How do they help?

Carefully researched and developed personas help guide the design process by shifting your attention and focus directly to the end-user. They allow you to address their goals and needs and most importantly help you substantiate your decision when presenting your rationale to clients.

Persona Tool -  Feel free to download it and use it!

Persona Tool - Feel free to download it and use it!

 

2. Take it up a Notch and Create a Persona Empathy Map

a. What is empathy mapping?

“Empathy is at the heart of design”(1). Without the understanding of what others see, feel, and experience, one can never solve problems entirely or provide adequate solutions. Hence, creating a persona is not enough and must be followed by an empathy map.  Empathy mapping differs from personas in that it focuses on uncovering the sensory information and experience of your users. While personas focus on interests, skills, personality, dreams and environment, empathy maps reveal what your persona sees, thinks,feels, hears, gains, and is challenged by.

b. How do we use it?

Consider the sensory experiences of your persona. What do they think and feel? See? Say and do? What do they hear? Then, try to visualize what are their challenges and obstacles, and what is it that they want to gain from your service/product?

Once the map is complete you will have an ‘empathy mapped’ persona and you will be able to work on analyzing this map and thinking of how to apply the results to your product, service or problem in a way that serves the need of your persona(s).

Empathy Map -   Feel free to download it and use it!

Empathy Map - Feel free to download it and use it!

3. Seal the Deal by Creating an Extreme Character Persona

a. What is an extreme persona?

if you’re looking to innovate particularly heavily, you might want to push the boundaries of your product, service or problem. To do so you will need to stress the importance of empathy in making sure you understand your target audience as human beings rather than a “set of statistics”(5). Hence, one effective way that could help you feel empathy towards your target audience when designing a product/service is creating an extreme persona. 

Extreme personas will often describe minority, extreme or atypical behaviours amongst your users – really good personas are often about as far from the norm as you can get. If you are designing a concept for a restaurant, your extreme persona could be someone who suffers from dairy, nuts, or gluten allergy-- and that's only the start. It can be someone who is hot-tempered, or suffers from some sort of a physical disability. If you ensure that your concept stands the test of extreme persona, then you have got yourself a winner.

How Extreme can you get? Well, think along the lines of Darth Vader (just kidding) - Image Source: http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/

How Extreme can you get? Well, think along the lines of Darth Vader (just kidding) - Image Source: http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/

 

b. How does it help?

Rather than creating a persona “we feel represents the average of the group” why not use “someone who represents an extreme either because this extreme is aspirational or because it raises particular issues that need to be addressed”(5). The use of “extreme personas” has proven again and again to be very “powerful when addressing issues of universality in design”(5). Universality in design “refers to the creation of products that can be used by disabled people and non-disabled people alike”(5).

Can you imagine that many of the products we take for granted today and use in our everyday life were actually intended to help people suffering from some sort of a disability. A great example would be the famous TV remote control that was designed for disabled people but proved to be successful with everyone. Another example, is Good Grips kitchen tools which were originally designed to help people suffering from arthritis, however, since they were so easy to manage, these tools proved to be quite popular with professional chefs (5).

The Remote Control was first was designed for disabled people Source: blogcdn.com

The Remote Control was first was designed for disabled people Source: blogcdn.com

Conclusion

By adopting these 3 simple empathy tools, you will be able to bridge the gap between your target audience’s needs and your client’s brand, service or product. These tools will help you provide intuitive solutions that will make sense and resonate with your audience by drawing upon people’s real-world experiences to address modern challenges. It is only when companies allow a deep emotional understanding of people’s needs to inspire them—and transform their work, their teams, and even their organization at large—they unlock the creative capacity for innovation (2).That’s why we invite you to download any of our templates to ensure your design strategies, products, and services are human-centred.

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SOURCES

1Brown, Tim http://designthinking.ideo.com/?p=1008

2Battarbee, Katja et.al https://www.ideo.com/images/uploads/news/pdfs/Empathy_on_the_Edge.pdf

3Maurya, Ash http://leanstack.com/why-lean-canvas/

4O’Grady Jenn, Ken A Designer’s Research Manual Succeed in Design by Knowing your Clients and what they Really Need: 2009.

5Jordan, Patrick W. How to Make Brilliant Stuff that People Love and Make Big Money out of it. England: 200

Thumbnail and Profile Picture Reference: https://ux.sears.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Empathy.jpeg

Design Inspiration: 8 map styles you should know about

In our efforts to create a map of Riyadh (KSA) for the relocation of Lati boutique from its original place in Kingdom Center to Imam Saud road, we have encountered many interesting styles and types of map designs through our research. Since links showcasing inspirational  maps are abundant on the web, we have decided to save you time and present you with this list of maps classified by style for your inspiration. Here are the 8 categories we have encountered and that has impressed us the most:

 

1. Schematic

Schematic maps are widely used. We encounter them almost on daily basis. They are everywhere! Especially on the streets. Perhaps the most iconic ones are Harry Beck's London Tube map in 1933 and Massimo Vignelli's map of New York Subway in 1972. Schematic maps are meant to communicate visually with the viewer and help him fulfill a journey or understand a flow by omitting irrelevant elements and emphasizing the elements of focus. 

New York Subway Map 1973 - Massimo Vignelli (Source:  Analogue 76 )

New York Subway Map 1973 - Massimo Vignelli (Source: Analogue 76)

London Tube Map 1933 - Harry Beck (Source:  Wikipedia )

London Tube Map 1933 - Harry Beck (Source: Wikipedia)

 

2. Typographic

Typographic Posters are challenging. Wether you employ multiple fonts or 1 typeface, design elements are restricted to typography to depict the geographical spaces. Again, New York and London are at the top of the list of most creative typographic maps. 

Unknown Artist (Source:  Cargo Collective )

Unknown Artist (Source: Cargo Collective)

New York - Benoi Cesari (Source:  Digital Arts Online )

New York - Benoi Cesari (Source: Digital Arts Online)

 

3. Interactive

This is when it gets tricky. When it comes to interactive maps, not only you should design the layout and the interactive experience, but you should also ensure a perfect balance between aesthetics and usability even with abundance of information or advanced levels of interaction. For interactive maps, check out these two peculiar examples: 

A. NORSE
"Norse" maps cyber attacks happening around the world LIVE... It makes you feel at the heart of World War III. It is truly mind-blowing. 
http://map.norsecorp.com/

Screenshot - NORSE ( Norse Website )

Screenshot - NORSE (Norse Website)

B. Build with Chrome
"Build with Chrome" is a microsite made by Google in collaboration with Lego that enables lego enthusiasts to build structures and publish them on the world's map. It is a true platform for self-expression. Try it out: https://www.buildwithchrome.com/

Blue Hat's Build - Screenshot -  BUILD WITH CHROME

Blue Hat's Build - Screenshot - BUILD WITH CHROME

 

4. Realistic

Static or Interactive, realistic maps are representations of actual areas where shapes such as land, sea, and roads are depicted while staying true to scale. Other than facilitating our lives with transportation routes and helping us reach our destinations, Google Maps gives you the ability to customize its maps on your website with your own color palette. Check out this third party tool for customization: snazzymaps.com

Beirut, Lebanon (Source: Google Maps)

Beirut, Lebanon (Source: Google Maps)

Boston Map (Source:  The University of Texas At Austin )

 

5. Infographic

Owing to the rise of Social Media, every person can now create, share and publish content quite easily. As a result, we are now living in an extremely cluttered (digital) world. To cut through clutter, the trend of infographic content has emerged. The purpose of infographics, as the name suggests, is to deliver complex information or statistics through a simple, straight to the point, and visually appealing graphics. Interestingly, this trend has also affected B2B (Business to Business) companies who now enrich their piles of reports with infographics to help readers understand information in an easy and straight-forward way.

Los Angeles - Owen Gatley (Source:  Digital Arts Online )

Los Angeles - Owen Gatley (Source: Digital Arts Online)

Women in the boardroom - Grant Thornton (Source:  Grant Thornton )

Women in the boardroom - Grant Thornton (Source: Grant Thornton)

 

6. Hand-drawn

Hand-drawn maps celebrate talent and creativity. The following pictures speak for themselves. 

Livi Gosling - (Source:   Digital Arts Online  )

Livi Gosling - (Source: Digital Arts Online)

London - Jenni Sparks (Source:  jennisparks.com )

London - Jenni Sparks (Source: jennisparks.com)

 

7. Retro / Vintage

Retro / Vintage maps can vary a lot in style, but they almost always have one thing in common: Old typefaces (Serifs more than San Serifs), beige backgrounds, hand-drawn ornaments, borders and frames, italic fonts, high contrast, and other. Even in 2015, retro and vintage maps can be cool especially when depicting trending TV shows such as Game of Thrones. 

Europe - Cavallini & Co (Source:  Stampington)

Europe - Cavallini & Co (Source: Stampington)

Game Of Thrones - Pikselmatic (Source:  Pinterest )

Game Of Thrones - Pikselmatic (Source: Pinterest)

Game Of Thrones 3D wood map (Source:  This is why I'm Broke )

Game Of Thrones 3D wood map (Source: This is why I'm Broke)

Nairn Transport Company 1923 (Source:  Fuchs Online )

Nairn Transport Company 1923 (Source: Fuchs Online)

 

8. Illustrated

Whenever we are in London and we step into the piccadilly line, we always enjoy looking at the illustrated map by LULU PINNEY that highlights major landmarks in London. In their own way, Illustrated maps tend to be schematic, they omit what is not needed and focus on necessary information only. Since the stress in this kind of maps is on the objects rather than the landscape, often slightly distorted or reduced. Such a map can thus sometimes appear as a caricature. However, despite scale distortions, this kind of maps is highly popular for being attractive, informative and easy to use. 

Picadilly Line Map - Lulu Pinney (Source:  Eye Magazine )

Picadilly Line Map - Lulu Pinney (Source: Eye Magazine)

Romualdo Faura - (Source:   Digital Arts Online  )

Romualdo Faura - (Source: Digital Arts Online)

When created for brands, these maps follow their brand guidelines, fonts, colors etc...That is why we have decided to proceed in the illustrated format for the the map that we have created for Lati's flyer and which announces its move from its current location to its new one giving away all necessary details in an attractive format.

Lati Map - Designed by Blue Hat

Lati Map - Designed by Blue Hat

Lati Map, Arabic Adaptation - Designed by Blue Hat

Lati Map, Arabic Adaptation - Designed by Blue Hat