This young designer is pulling out all the stops. On the one hand, he has launched an initiative to rid the world of landmines, a passion that harks back to his Afghan childhood. And on quite the other, he is busy concocting culinary books and devices inspired by the positive riches of his homeland. Having left his country at a tender age and lived elsewhere in the East before venturing to Europe, he took up new roots in Holland, where a design education brought him closer in touch with himself and the culture that he embodies, unleashing a slew of creativity in the process.
DAMn°: How are you planning to develop the work?
MH: Now I’m working with different people from all over the world to improve the project. A film producer wants to make a short movie about it for the Sundance Film Festival. A few friends from South Africa want to make a documentary about landmine areas in Angola. A couple of experienced guys from Brazil are working to make a clearing system for the internet website and to raise donations. We are also networking in the US but we still need help from goverments and organisations to fund the project and set the next steps successfully.
DAMN°: You were born in Afghanistan and fled when you were around ten. Many of your projects today are related to your home country. How does your background influence your work?
MH: After leaving Afghanistan I lived in Pakistan and Uzbekistan for some years before coming to Europe. Back then, I had no idea about the existence of Holland. Now it is my new home and I love it. I studied here and graduated at the Design Academy Eindhoven. This school was my mosque for the last couple of years. They taught me how to explore myself in a creative way.
During my school years I found a way to get inspiration from Afghanistan. We have a very strong culture, think of the Silk Road, Alexander the Great, and many other similar examples. I get a lot of inspiration and then I translate them into a modern way of thinking. In 2008 I published the first ever Afghan cookbook which was ever made. The title is “Moeders Gerechten”. I wanted to preserve our cooking culture for it is disappearing because of the war, and I wanted to show the world the bright side of Afghanistan. The positive energy of our culture and traditions.
DAMN°: Tell us about your newest and your upcoming projects …
MH: From June on I will start to work on my final cooking book. Among my recent projects there is “Silk Cooking,” which is also inspired by my cultural background. It is a series of cooking tools for the modern kitchen. I discovered a total new way of cooking. For now it is made of four pieces, but the total will include about 20 new products that nobody has seen or heard of before.
For example, there is a pebble-filled pan; bury the ingredients beneath the stones and heat for succulent meat. Or a cast iron and clay pot to whip up fresh bread in four minutes, a watermelon juicer and finally, a pitcher and dish set for the communal washing of hands. A gentle reminder that contemporary cooking does not have to involve stacks of high-tech apparatus.
DAMn°: And in which way does your new home country Holland influence your work?
MH: Holland gave me the opportunity to start a new life. Design Academy Eindhoven gave me the tools to discover and understand the subconscious and my personal intuition. Now I have learned how to work in my own way and make things which are really useful for society. I have also just established my own company in Eindhoven at the Sectie C. We have a big workplace and an office to work on the upcoming project.
Text by Silvia Anna Barrila, images by Massoud Hassani