Beirut-based architect Salim al-Kadi has designed a modernised version of the traditional keffiyeh scarf that is more suitable for today’s environment.
The K29 Keffiyeh 001 is made from para-aramid synthetic fibre, also known as Kevlar, which is a material used in body armour such as bulletproof vests that help guard the wearer against certain weapons.
Having smuggled a piece of this materials into Lebanon, the keffiyeh then took shape using the traditional crisscross pattern that was hand-embroidered by a woman living in Ain al-Hilweh – a Palestinian refugee camp.
“By wrapping it around one’s head, the weave’s performance is increased through the layering of material and multi-directionality of the weave,” said al-Kadi, who has worked on several architecture projects in Beirut.
The gender-neutral keffiyeh has traditionally been worn throughout the Middle East, where it provides protection from harsh sun and sand. It has also been a symbol of the Arab resistance movement including the Palestinian Intifadas.
“[The K29 Keffiyeh 001] acquires a familiar symbolism upon the battlefield,” Al-Kadi said. “It is a keffiyeh for our contemporary landscape.”
The scarf first debuted during Beirut Design Week, alongside other works in Beirut’s Geek Express gallery.
Al-Kadi is founding partner of Beirut-based firm APractice Studio, having also founded the BAO architecture firm earlier this year. The k29 headscarf is one of its first projects.