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dina Amin on being the generalist who tinkers with trash to tell unique stories

Conversations on the Contrary: STIR presents a series of unboxed conversations from KDY 2019, discussing contrarian thinking in design, its challenges and potential rewards.

by Zohra Khan Nov 21, 2019

Can you guess the number of parts your old mobile phone is made of? Can you imagine what is on the inside of the defunct hair dryer stuffed in your cupboard or perhaps your favourite doll that you have long withdrawn yourself from? Cairo-based designer dina Amin’s explorations have the answers.

Amin is fond of moving things and playing with trash. Tinker Friday – a stop motion series that she created as a ‘side project’ on Instagram in 2016 and which is a successful initiative today, breaks open the countless items that people throw away as she weaves stories out of the many components that make these.

5 mins watch Conversations on the Contrary with dina Amin
Conversations on the Contrary with dina Amin Video Credit: Courtesy of STIR

From popping open the head of her doll to undressing the miniature systems of a useless camera, a reeled-out cassette and a non-functioning table clock, she picks each part of these machine worlds and turns these into quirky characters in her videos. These half-material characters are weird as wacky, with interesting voices and acts such as trying to stick back parts of life with snot-glue – of course, with little success.

The attention to detail in these videos is remarkable and rather surprising, given that Amin is a self-taught animator. Her work combines the sensibilities of a qualified product designer combined with the passion of a stop motion animator. Instead of sticking to a particular skill or path, the founder of Tinker Studio loves to explore new mediums, inspirations, and disciplines. “I am a person who doesn’t really specialise in something. I am a generalist, I like learning things broadly,” she says.

While tinkering with the old to give it a new lease of life, sometimes her tiny protagonists tell stories of her own personal struggles as an animator in Egypt who has access to limited opportunities.

As doubts and roadblocks are a constant affair, Amin’s personal mantra to power through these obstacles is by asking herself, ‘How Big is my Fish Bowl?’. The bowl, as she describes, “is an actual boundary, and actual limit that separates people from the rest of the world”. She believes that if we embrace where we come from in the work we do, and understand the fact that we live in an immensely connected world, then the boundaries are nothing but figments of our own imagination.

(Watch out for more design contrarians in the series, 'Conversations on the Contrary')

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About Author

Zohra Khan

Zohra Khan

A formal education in architecture combined with an avid interest in architecture journalism and design criticism led Khan to professionally venture into writing and research. She has worked in design communication for more than two years, generating content for mondo*arc india journal. When not writing, she kicks back by dabbling on social media for STIR.

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