Mooni Studio aims to break rules within the Southwest Asian and North African region and beyond
The duo began collaborating over a love of music, but have since expanded their practice into something truly multidisciplinary.
- Ruby Boddington
- 16 December 2021
Based between Jerusalem and Amsterdam, Mooni Studio was launched in 2019 with the intention to break rules within the Southwest Asian and North African (SWANA) region and beyond. Working across commissioned and self-initiated work, its founders, Mohammed and Tal, predominantly produce design and research projects but take a multidisciplinary approach to everything they do.
Before Mooni became what it is today, a creative studio working across a range of media and outputs, the pair bonded over their love for music. “New sounds started emerging around us, and as a response, we reacted with new visual connections,” they explain. “Through time, our practice expanded and now we are engaged with projects from across the different cultural fields.” In turn, they’ve created a website for Ma3azef, a music video for Terez Sliman, and have contributed to issue three of Year Zero – all this alongside a host of other exciting and intriguing projects.
Importantly, at the core of all Mohammed and Tal’s projects, despite their disparate outputs, is “a want express and reflect over a multi-layered reality through which we’re from,” they explain. They draw on the history of their region, contrasting it with more futuristic elements: “The ancient alleyways of Jerusalem meet fantasy visions and metaphysics.” They describe this process, which not only relates to the thematics of their work but the processes from which it emerges, as “patchworking things together”. As such, you’ll find a host of juxtaposing aesthetics and technologies “commenting and communicating with each other”. At the intersection of all these singular elements lies Mooni’s signature – something unfixed and elusive yet recognisable nonetheless. Although not pinning down their style, they describe how it emerged through “our individual and collective interests and findings, from local supermarkets to archaeological excavations”.
Mohammed and Tal rely on these wide-ranging influences whenever a new brief comes in, explaining “we have a very associative process. When a new project starts we immediately have some connections, stories, images, or quotes in mind.” They, therefore, “tend to follow that initial intuition and challenge it,” a process they coin “unfolding our inner compass” in order to reach new and exciting revelations about a topic or theme. With this in mind, it’s no surprise to hear that their phones are constantly full, “crowded with snapshots of ideas, textures, colours, and compositions,” which act as references. “Inspiration is something hard to grasp, it comes through adventures and experiences, and staying attentive to them,” they remark, and so making sure they document their adventures and experiences is key to remaining stimulated.
Reflecting on some of their recent work, Mohammed and Tal point to a project undertaken last July as one of their favourites. “We had the joy to contribute to It’s Not Complicated, a 19-track collaboration between Ma3azef, Heba Kadry, and a group of incredible musicians,” they explain. “The compilation features Brian Eno, Lafawndah, Kelman Duran, Liliane Chlela, and many more.” All of the profits from the project were donated to Grassroots Al-Quds and organisations providing medical aid to Palestine.
The project unfolded rapidly, as they had to react to the developing situation, yet they describe the project as their most satisfying to date. “We began by modelling Sheikh Jarrah with the help of blurry satellite images, we knew we want to locate our design in the neighbourhood quite literally,” they recall. “It was important for us to emphasise the tremendous impact the el Kurd family and the neighbourhood had over the contemporary discourse on Palestine and beyond. This way we ended up using light sources in the scene as a metaphor, as an informing force, echoing through space and illuminating it.” The project later gained a second life at the Printed Matter inc. shop in New York, in the form of a poster, as part of the window installation For the Unsettled World to Come* curated by bilnaes.
Looking to the future, Mohammed and Tal say their main aim is to learn how to balance commissions and self-initiated projects. Plus, they’re both working on personal projects due to be released soon – watch this space!
Mooni Studio: Year Zero Issue 3 (Copyright © Mooni Studio, 2021)
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.