Sunday, 18 September 2011



We’ve always wondered how people come up with great ideas. Obviously, we mean how OTHER people as well as ourselves come up with great ideas. Elenany recently started writing for Kalimat magazine, an exciting new magazine providing an outlet for political, cultural and social expression within the Arab region and its Diaspora.

We love pioneers so we wanted to find out more about its inspired creator….so we tracked her down and asked her a bunch of awkward questions to try to figure out how she came up with such a great idea.

Elenany: Who are you?
Danah: I am the founder, editor and creative director of Kalimat Magazine. Currently, I am a Master of Arts in Social Design student at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.

Elenany: What is your vision?
Danah: My vision with Kalimat is to turn it into a media and design production house. Kalimat not only encourages Arab creatives to submit their work and pursue careers in creative fields, media and politics without facing the difficulties of censorship, we also work collaboratively with writers on the editing process. Our end goal is to implement media and design training centres within universities. We want to teach people within the Arab region the creative fields inside and out and how they can utilise these skills to better their communities.

Elenany: What was the one defining moment of your life?
Danah: I guess I can relate it back to my second visit to Palestine. I lived in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem for a few weeks and had the opportunity to experience the lifestyle of the residents, the way they think, etc. There was something about it that made you want to come back and do some form of educational work and that was a goal I had set in my mind. When I got back, I was inspired to clean up the place, create recycling and garbage programmes because there’s trash everywhere and I couldn’t understand why or how people could live like that. I worked a lot in activism after that. And then in 2010, I returned to Palestine, this time living and working at An-Najah University in Nablus. This time I was coming with ideas on how to do something for the entire region, as opposed to merely focusing on Palestine, which many people do, often neglecting similar problems in the vicinity.

Elenany: How has this translated into your work now?
Danah: It has translated into Kalimat, which is what I am devoted to and it’s also my area of study. The MA programme I’m pursuing right now works directly with the East Baltimore community. As opposed to living in an apartment in a nice part of town and coming in during class time to work with the community, we live in the community and make up a part of it. That’s real community work and helps us better understand our surroundings and the people and places we are making things for. The programme is directly related to making change happen/instigating change through design.

Elenany: How is your work making the world a better place?
Danah: With my work, I hope to make people question the role of the media and design – how can these fields articulate change, how can we use them to better our environment and community and what is the role of a designer, an architect, a journalist? My goal is to have people rethink the educational system in the Arab world and the presence that these two fields (which influence numerous fields alongside it), play.

Elenany: Whose work do you like (artists/designers/musicians)?
Danah: One of my main inspirations is minimalist design so and the work of Massimo Vignelli inspires me for sure. I am also absolutely in love with the Andalusia region, the architecture and history is phenomenal.

Elenany: What’s your favourite Elenany piece/ graphic?
Danah: The Eskimo Coat! And the awesome Elenany logo buttons.

Elenany: Where can we find out more about you?
Danah: On my website at or on my blog and by following me on twitter @theyuppie

Check out Kalimat Magazine at

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