Critical Cooking Show
Cooking with Stories
depatriarchise design, Mayar El-Bakry and Romi Lee

Supported by Prohelvetia.

In a long, narrow, modernist kitchen, Mayar El-Bakry, a Swiss Egyptian designer, is cooking. Using anonymously designed cooking tools and objects ubiquitous to the SWANA region, she is preparing a variety of dishes: falafel, ma’amoul, kousa mahshi, tajine and other staples of the region. Each cooked dish highlights one protagonist tool or object, telling a different story. As we delve into these fragments of everyday home cooking, the voices and rich diasporic narratives of people from the SWANA region – who are now immigrants in Europe – unfold.

The show is an experimental visual document that intimately embraces the overlooked, invisible, marginalised design that surrounds us, drawing on personal memories, experiences and the collections of mundane kitchen tools gathered over the years and brought to Europe upon emigrating. In the film, storylines of memories, activities and sensual experiences are carefully interwoven and brought to life through a combination of sound, moving images, photographs and texts. In this way, overlooked narratives unfold and offer the view of a rich landscape, instead of the binaries that prevail in both design and cooking.


depatriarchise design is a nonprofit design research platform based in Basel, Switzerland, working across different media. Founded in 2017, it started as a call for action, born out of frustration with a design discipline that is deeply interwoven with discriminating structures. Its manifold investigative and activist practice is rooted in intersectional feminism and the urgent need to reform the dominant paradigms of design. Through texts, workshops and exhibitions, depatriarchise design examines the complicity of design in the reproduction of oppressive systems, as well as telling long-silenced stories. The practise values collaboration and the co-creation of knowledge, and therefore often joins forces with people, collectives and initiatives whose work its members admire and with whom they share a common political ground. They believe in the transformative potential of design and are constantly looking for ways to create more socially sustainable futures. Anja Neidhardt and Maya Ober run the platform together as a collaborative endeavour.

Mayar El-Bakry is a Swiss Egyptian designer and researcher who holds a BA in Visual Communication from the FHNW Academy of Arts and Design in Basel. El-Bakry likes to work on the peripheries of design, merging diverse practices in her work. Currently, she is focusing on food and cooking as a means to create spaces of discourse, exchange and dialogue in, between and outside of (design) academia. Within her research, she emphasises cross-cultural exchange, social relevance and collaboration. She also coordinates the Swiss Design Network and co-curates ‘Educating Otherwise’, an education programme at the FHNW University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Basel focusing on intersectional feminist pedagogies within design. 

Anja Neidhardt is a PhD student at Umeå Institute of Design and Umeå Centre for Gender Studies. The aim of her research is to identify and analyse alternative intersectional feminist practices (as used by protest archives) that could be adopted in order to change design archives and museums and to contribute to the development of more just design disciplines. Before starting her PhD she worked as a self-employed design journalist and educator. In 2016 she graduated with a Master’s degree in Design Curating and Writing from Design Academy Eindhoven. From 2012 until 2014 she was a member of form Design Magazine’s editorial team. Neidhardt has contributed to depatriachise design since June 2017, and became co-editor in February 2018.

Maya Ober is a designer, researcher, educator, activist, and the founding editor of depatriarchise design based in Basel, Switzerland. She works as a research associate at the Institute of Industrial Design and as a lecturer at the Institute of Aesthetic Practice and Theory at the Academy of Arts and Design in Basel, where, together with Laura Pregger, she has initiated the educational programme ‘Imagining Otherwise’, exploring intersectional pedagogies of art and design education. Her current research project ‘Space of radical possibilities – towards intersectional feminist pedagogies of design’ at the Academy of the Arts in Bern is an interdisciplinary study situated between gender studies, social anthropology and design, and exploring how intersectional feminist pedagogies influence design education. 

Romi Lee is a Tel-Aviv based, Swiss-Israeli film-maker, video-artist and documentary director. She studied fine arts at the Midrasha in Beit Berl and cinema at the Minshar School of Art in Tel Aviv. Her work explores memory, and the creation of narratives through the private, personal, intimate and unspoken. Her newest documentary The hotel (working title) was granted financial support from the New Fund and will have its premiere in 2021.

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