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In this episode, I chat with Dounia Tamri-Loeper. Dounia is the designer and founder of Dounia Home. A lighting company that is based in the US and Morocco. Dounia Home is on a mission to modernise Moroccan design reimagining the traditional techniques and craftsmanship into sophisticated collections that uphold the principles of sustainability.

Whilst working in branding and product development Dounia started to look for something new and wanted to create her own products and share her design aesthetic with the world. Taking a leap she left her job and went to Morocco her home country where she spent 3 months travelling the country and looking at different the crafts, metal, wood, textile and ceramics. The beauty and popularity of local lighting caught her eye but felt it was stuck in the traditional look which made it look a bit dated, so set about modernising it. 

In starting her own business Dounia knew who she was as a designer and coupled with her branding background she developed her first collection and soon hit the ground running by exhibiting at tradeshows. This helped raise the awareness of Dounia Home and showing alongside established well-know brands gave her fledgeling brand credibility and therefore trust, which helped attract her target audience of architects and interior designers. Tradeshows also helped her get in front of magazines resulting In features in prestigious publications.

Dounia Home collections are produced in Morocco and then assembled and packaged in the US. Dounia focused on doing the groundwork finding the artisans she could work with. There were hurdles at the beginning such as production issues like maintaining consistency with a handcrafted product, which they have resolved. And also the challenges of working with artisans who had been worked with the craft for a long time and in trying to introduce new ideas faced a little bit of resentment. She works with small artisan groups and has since set up her own group of artisans.

Working between the US where she lives and Morocco meant having to put in place efficient systems so that things could move forward smoothly when she was not in Morocco to oversee the production.

Sustainability is an important aspect of Dounia Home. Products are designed to last a long time. For Dounia sustainability stems from the community. As the community is sustained by producing the product local, in the life of the product and the afterlife of the product. Every product is designed and produced with minimum waste in mind. The metals used are recyclable.

Dounia advises budding designers to be bold to go out into the world and show their work. She has credited this attitude with helping her to secure collaborations with brands whose values align with hers.

Looking to the future wants Dounia wants to modernise Moroccan furniture, accessories and is in the process of doing just that.

We talk about:

  • Taking the decision to leave her job to start her own business
  • Researching her idea and spending time in Morocco travelling the country and getting to know the different crafts from a designer perspective
  • Using her designer’s eye to modernise the old styles
  • Leveraging trade shows to build her brand name, awareness and credibility
  • The importance of knowing her audience and getting in front of them
  • Managing a business between the US and Morocco, and why a process is key
  • Producing in Morocco and working with artisan groups
  • How government support has helped develop and grow her business
  • Designing for sustainability and not trends
  • Finding and attracting collaborations 
  • Looking to the future of design
  • Being bold and not being afraid to reach out for opportunities 
  • What being in business has taught her about herself

From a design perspective we try not to be trendy, we want to create a product that’s timeless, and hopefully that people can pass down to their children.

– Dounia Tamri-Loeper

Links and resources mentioned in this episode

Maison de l’Artisan

Elle Decor

House Beautiful

Handmade Contemporary Fair (HmC)

Aphrochic

Where you can go to find out more about Dounia and Dounia Home:

www.douniahome.com

@douniahome

You can listen to the podcast on iTunes (iOS) and Stitcher (Android)

And before you go I have a favour to ask, if you could take a few minutes to do the three R’s that is: rate it, review it, and recommend it to anyone you feel would benefit. It will really make a difference and I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks again.

Tapiwa Matsinde

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