Women’s Stories – Converesation with Noa Curiel our head of design

December 8, 2022

We’re happy to share a conversation with Noa Curiel, iota’s Head of design for the past 4 years, about her way of working, inspirations and what craft means to her.

Could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Noa Curiel, I’m 34 from Tel Aviv. I’m an alumni of HIT Design Academy in industrial design.

Tell us more about what you do?

In iota I am part of a team of women that I love. Each has her own area of responsibility; I am in charge of textile and product design, but we are always brainstorming and talking things over. The women who manufacture our products are a community of Syrian refugees in Istanbul, and I am in daily contact with Izabella, who teaches them how to produce our products. Together with Lena, who develops the knitting and the products with me, we create product sheets, write instructions, and make sure that our ideas come alive, even from a distance. Before Covid I traveled to Istanbul a lot to meet the team, in the last couple of years things have changed.

In addition to working with the community in Istanbul we are developing relationships with more communities. These days I am in touch with two communities in India and another one in Turkey, developing new products through sketches, videos, zoom meetings and countless DHL shipments.

What’s your inspiration? What keeps you hopping out of bed every morning?

My inspiration comes from the worlds of fashion and travel. Usually there is also a location from which I draw inspiration, lately that place is Greece. I lived there for five years as a child and in a sense this experience shaped who I am. Life on a Greek island, the color schemes and Greek mythology are inexhaustible sources of inspiration. I like simple and effortless shapes and since our products are handmade in crochet and the yarns we design are very special, I usually prefer to lean on our raw materials and produce useful products with a twist. Textiles have an immense emotional and nostalgic presence and it is important for me to pay attention to the cultural or historical contexts of the craft with which we work.

Meet us

Did you ever take the time to articulate your “life mission”?

As time goes by it’s becoming clear that for me, the most important thing in life is relationships. Whether it’s with my colleagues at the studio, the communities we work with or the people we teach in our knitting club. I am moved when our products delight those who purchase them as well as those who manufacture them. The fact that we produce ethically, and that one of the values of iota is to provide jobs for women, makes me feel, every day, how design has a positive power in the world.

How does knitting meet all of this?

Iris taught me how to crochet, we started working at iota at the same time. Iris had infinite patience. I remember hearing her talk about knitting in professional terms, types of stitches, increases, how to build the shape we are looking for, and I also wanted to know! Over time I started to understand the professional language and today I speak it fluently.

Knitting has many aspects – esthetic, self expression, craft preservation, meditative self care. Can you relate to any or all of these? how do they meet you?

In my eyes, teaching someone a new skill is one of the most satisfying things and I experience it every time we teach a group of people how to knit. Before I worked in iota I studied embroidery in Paris and I remember the stress and frustration I experienced at first. My hands were clenched and my muscles were sore. I remember the teacher telling me to loosen my hands and relax. Seeing this process happen in a few hours, how frustration and apprehension become satisfaction and joy, is one of my favorite things.

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