‘It's a way of working from the bottom up’

Working alongside their local community helped architects Elias and Yousef Anastas innovate and keep traditional skills alive, which can form a crucial advantage over more modern competitors.
Anastas brothers 16x9 hero

Palestinian architects and brothers Elias and Yousef Anastas have advice that they think applies to almost anyone running a business: think local. 

The motto has served them well. After working as award-winning architects in France, the brothers returned to their home town of Bethlehem and set up Local Industries, a furniture business that prioritizes local makers and craft techniques. 

Above all, Elias explains from the West Bank, ‘working with local makers gives you a beautiful way to not only innovate, but also help revive skills and support the local economy. It's a way of working from the bottom up, tapping into local know-how. It's not a model that's common in commercial practice these days, but we wouldn't do it any other way.’ 

From the conception through to design and production, Local Industries works in a constant back and forth with local Palestinian makers until all parties are happy with the standard, function and aesthetic of the object. Between six and 18 prototypes are usually produced before all sign off in agreement. 

‘If you go back in history, everyone relied on what they could source locally, including people and workers,’ says Elias. ‘With climate change and the pandemic, I think we're finally starting to return to this wavelength of looking at where your feet are planted.’

For our ‘25 big lessons from small business’ series, we scoured the world to find inspiring people to share the lessons they've learned from running their own companies. Click here to read the other stories.

This special feature was first published in Courier issue 45, February/March 2022. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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