Late last year, at the second American Muslim Consumer Conference, Miles Young, CEO of Ogilvy and Mather (which recently launched Ogilvy Noor, the world’s first full-service Islamic Branding consultancy), told the audience:
Islam is not strongly enough associated, in this country, with design: with graphic design, with the arts, with fashion or creative design. And in this sense it differs from the minority Muslim communities in Europe and certainly from the majority Muslim communities. And let me tell you, art and design diffuse fear. They normalize, they soften...
We couldn’t agree more. So I want to tell you about an American company that is working to correct this tendency, taking a fresh approach to design and decor for the Muslim market.
Sakina Design is a California-based family-owned company producing stylish and appealing decor and gifts for Muslims with a modern, North American sensibility. Sakina Design’s website describes their approach to business:
The approach that guides Sakina Design is summarized by the word ihsan. Ihsan is the Islamic concept of perfection and excellence. The Qur'an teaches that inner faith should be reflected in deeds and actions, and that social responsibility is another manifestation of this faith.
Therefore, our approach centers on providing customers with excellent products that adhere to Islamic values and principles. We ensure that the materials that go into our products are top quality, and we make every effort to minimize harm to the environment. We use recycled and recyclable materials, and give back to the community by donating a portion of our sales to charity. Please see our Sakina Green page for additional information about our commitment to the environment.
I somehow stumbled across the company last summer, while I was in the throes of preparing for a number of family weddings, including Neman’s sister’s. As soon as I saw Sakina’s pieces of wall art, inspired by classical Islamic art and calligraphy, I knew they would make a perfect wedding gift for his sister and her husband-to-be. His sister has travelled through Turkey and Spain, among many other places, and I knew she loves Turkish art—she was incorporating Turkish tile imagery into her wedding décor—and loved the Alhambra. So I ordered the Iznik and Alhambra wall decor pieces immediately. Jontie of Sakina Design was incredibly helpful. The Alhambra piece was not in stock at the time I wanted it—Jontie said it’s been their most popular pattern—but a production run was about to take place, and he asked his producer make some Alhambra pieces first. While I was at it, I ordered one of each of the greeting cards, too.
Everything arrived very quickly and in perfect condition—I had been worried that the pieces, which are glass, could arrive broken. But everything was packed perfectly and there were no problems. Shipping was incredibly cheap—$10 USD if I recall correctly—but I should warn other Canadian customers: the duty and taxes were somewhat gobsmacking. So you will want to budget for our government’s pound of flesh. But it was worth it. Everything was absolutely beautiful—I wanted to keep the gifts for ourselves! Every piece was attractive, well-made, and good quality. The wall art works in both traditional and contemporary interiors. The square shape and manageable size of the wall art pieces contributes to their versatility in interiors (see Sakina Design's Decorating Tips page for several photos of how they can be combined and displayed).
I was glad I’d ordered some of the greeting cards; they are even finer than they look on the website. You may not be able to tell from some of the images, but the greeting card designs are not printed: they’re laser-cut overlays on coloured paper. They come with several inserts for the covers, both pre-printed (in English on one side and Arabic on the other), as well as some blank ones so you can inscribe your own greeting or salutation. And Jontie had generously included several Sakina bookmarks, which are as nicely made as everything else, and are currently gracing various books in progress.
Recently, Sakina Design has partnered with master calligrapher Haji Noor Deen. He has created creating a stunning fusion of Arabic and Chinese calligraphy for a new Sakina Design piece with the theme of tranquility. Check it out: it reads both vertically (in Chinese) and horizontally (in Arabic).
If you are searching for unique and tasteful items to give as gifts or keep for yourself, I strongly recommend Sakina Design’s products. I am looking forward to ordering some wall art for our own home when we have the funds (maybe as a graduation gift to myself). In the meantime, I will enjoy seeing it at my sister-in-law’s place, and I look forward to each new item from this company.
Do you know a company making stylish products for the Muslim market? Drop us a line!
This article was unsolicited and Philosufi has not received any consideration for it.