Where It All Began

My passion for traditional crafts was sparked during my art studies in Damascus. I was a young student when I first stepped into the workshop of a master of woodwork. What I was looking for back then was inspiration for a project. After stepping into the master’s workspace, it quickly became much more than that. I spent the next few months in his workshop, listening to his stories and learning about his craft. Within those four walls, I learned the real value of art was in the time-honored traditions and the careful attention placed on craftsmanship.

The workshops of the craft masters in Damascus remain a constant source of personal and artistic inspiration for me. They are a vital fabric of our culture and represent a reminder of our collective human heritage.

2 years ago, we produced a film featuring artisans sharing stories of passion, talent and perseverance. ⬇

The Challenge

Souk is Arabic for marketplace. Historically, the souk extended well beyond commerce. It was a melting pot of cultural, social and political exchange. When the souk is buzzing it is a sign that the community is doing well.

For the past 8 years, Syria has suffered devastating conflicts which have brought the souk to the verge of collapse. Many workshops are closed and some of the ancient crafts have disappeared. The risk of losing the know-how of these time-honored traditions is real.

WeTheSouk focuses on preserving Syrian crafts and empowering Syrian artisans. We bring together designers in Switzerland with Syrian artisans to collaborate and create beautiful design-oriented home décor items produced using ancient craft techniques indigenous to Syria such as Damascene silk, hand-blown glass and mosaic and mother of pearl embedding. These unique items blend contemporary design with ancient craft techniques. Production will take place in the original workshops in Syria and the items will be offered to the Swiss market through our online platform.

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I Can't Do It On My Own

WeTheSouk is in need of CHF 25’000 to cover the initial costs of production and supply, and to get the process started. Again, my goal is to sustain the livelihood of Syrian artisans and to preserve Syrian craft traditions. Your contribution will help WeTheSouk:

◆ Collaborate with 2 Syrian associations dedicated to empowering Syrian women affected by the conflict and providing them with dignified work

◆ Cover the costs of raw materials and labor for at least 4 workshops of various crafts in Syria including woodwork, hand blown glass, traditional ceramics and hand woven silk

◆ Impact the lives of both artisans and their families and enable them to pass on their heritage to future generations

◆ Produce prototypes in collaboration with designers in Switzerland

◆ Cover the administration costs in Switzerland

As the conflict is settling down, the focus needs to shift from the urgent to the sustainable. The journey of rebuilding what has been broken and restoring what has been lost is long. This journey starts with us, here and now.

Help us to grow this initiative, to expand our network of artists and craftspeople and, most importantly, help us to transfer this precious know-how to the next generation of Syrian artisans.


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