Mason Minute with Marwa Istanbuli

Marwa Istanbuli is a Montreal-based project designer inspired by textural complexity within spaces and shares her story in this timestamp for Mason Minute. While exploring unconventional ways of layering materiality, to creating meaningful, unique experiences for everyday users while challenging the status quo, she brings her vision, intuition and drive to the world of design.

My personal floorplan for design was framed by my curiosity to understand the various environments around me and the emotions they evoked in people. I grew a deeper fascination with the thinking behind these curated spaces and a love for the storytelling crafted within. It was almost like building your childhood fantasy doll house, but in real life and with a purpose to make better. Therefore, interior design became the foundation in my pursuit to create such unique realms for people to experience.

I am passionate about the collaborative nature of the field and the impact it has over the quality of our work and the betterment of the community at large. In working directly with the local tradespeople, craft folk, and artists, I’m able to create unique singular interiors interwoven into the local context, whilst giving back to the community.

A design idea that I want to explore further is textural complexity within a space. I’m continually exploring unconventional ways of layering materiality to challenge the expected narrative in each space and craft compelling tensions and movements within.

Design has taught me that there are no wrong ideas, just unrefined ones. With more experience and trial and error, I’ve started to instinctively understand from the outset how the space is going to look once it’s completed and make design decisions accordingly. The design process, therefore, is one of editing, refining, and bringing the clients and collaborators along the way to achieve the final result.

I use design to create purposeful and unique experiences for everyday users while challenging the status quo. Design is a way for me to lay out my perspectives and life learning into something more tangible and impactful to the surrounding community. As such, design becomes a form of self expression.

Design cultivates community and creates a sense of belonging through recognition. It’s very important for designers to recognize the value of the project’s local culture, history, and social psychology and aim to integrate it into the design, from the broadest stroke to the most granular detail. Only then, do we create environments that help cultivate lifelong connections with the community and future collaborators.

Outside the lines of design, my interests have led me to MENA, an artist talk collective that celebrates and showcases the immense creative talent from the Middle East and North Africa region. Through this initiative, I have had the privilege of connecting with a diverse array of artists and creatives, highlighting the rich cultural heritage of the region and paving the way for future collaborations and a growing lobal artistic community.

On the side, I enjoy travelling in search of inspiration, new connections, great food, and thrifting opportunities (editor's note: hence Marwa's cool sense of style!).

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