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18 March, 2013

Tasmeem Doha 2013: Hybrid Making Comes to a Close

Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, in partnership with the Qatar Foundation and Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art hosted the last day of its biennial international design conference Tasmeem Doha 2013.

Tasmeem Doha 2013 – ‘Hybrid Making’ was open to the public and took place at VCUQatar, Mathaf and the Hamad Bin Khalifa University Student Center from 10 to 17 March, 2013.

Visit to see the conference site.

Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, chairperson of the Qatar Museums Authority and the United States Ambassador to Qatar Susan L. Ziadeh were among the many dignitaries who attended the closing ceremony.

VCUQatar Dean Allyson Vanstone welcomed the gathering to the closing ceremony. “This truly international conference has, over the years, brought together leading artists, designers, and scholars, to join in a common forum that explores the multidisciplinary aspects of design and stimulates the exchange of ideas, views, and research,” she said in her opening remarks. “We look forward to continuing this tradition of excellence with Tasmeem Doha. Unlike traditional conferences, much of this year’s Tasmeem Doha was structured as a series of on-going activities, collaborative workshops, and exhibitions. By deliberately embracing new territories within the conference format, we expanded the framework and scope to create an opportunity for experimentation and research,” she added when speaking about Tasmeem Doha 2013: Hybrid Making.

Dean Vanstone went on to thank Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser for her vision, Qatar Foundation for supporting the conference; HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art for partnering with the conference. She also thanked Tasmeem Doha 2013 Co-chairs Dr. Johan Granberg and Dr. Thomas Modeen, board members of Cumulus (International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media, the only global association to serve art and design education and research) as well as all the Tasmeem committee co-chairs and artists, designers and student participants who flew in from all over the world to participate in the various labs and workshops held over the previous week.

Jean-Paul Engelen, director of Public Art at Qatar Museums Authority introduced the keynote speaker of the evening, acclaimed Dutch architect and winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, Rem Koolhaas.

Koohlaas began his keynote address speaking about how luck was a very important factor in his life, and how his early years between the ages of eight and 12, spent in Indonesia, studying in an Indonesian school, were factors that enabled him to adopt different cultures very early thus making it possible for him to work in Asia and the Middle East today. Koolhaas spoke about his work as a writer; creating architectural firm OMA and AMO – to fertilize architecture with intelligence from this array of disciplines – and went on to speak in detail about his projects, including the headquarters for China Central Television - a tower reinvented as a loop; the Qatar National Library; the Qatar Foundation headquarters and his project with Prada among many others.

For the QF headquarters he said OMA looked at the various shapes in Education City to design the tower to be superior and serene and not affected by architectural language. “It doesn’t show you what’s going on, on the inside but the interior design intricacies show it’s not as serene as the outside,” adding that the building is “not dominant but at the same time makes a point, which makes it almost charming in its intensity.”

Tasmeem Doha 2013 concluded with Co-chairs Granberg and Modeen thanking everybody for participating in the event hoping what participants would take away from the conference would affect them, their work and their future collaborations.

The Conference’s theme of “hybrid making” explored hybridity within the acts of making, building and sustaining a contemporary society, engaging with art, design and other interventions that have been conceived, designed or fabricated in Qatar. The Tasmeem Hybrid Making Laboratories were full-scale explorations done through the very act of making. For five days (March 10 to 14), groups made up of 20-25 students and faculty, led by invited international designers and artists, designed and created full-scale semi-permanent structures (walk-in sculptures), performances or other catalytic interventions.  The outcomes of the labs will remain on view at Mathaf through March 31.

Labs included: creating a group of hybrid products - five pieces that are wearable by any person, and the pieces also have the ability to transform into five interior products, specifically, five lamps; eTextile fashion accessories that  augment the wearer's experience thru light (LED) and haptic feedback (vibration motor);  synthesizing the historic materiality of Qatar with the contemporary materials of the city and the souk  and mapping and documenting the making of this structure documented by a series of time lapse, motorized cameras and image scanners that are engaged as a part of the structure; using bikes to construct simple solar power systems and using the solar energy collected from their journey to illuminate a sculpture at Mathaf; creating a curiosity cabinet of physical and digital found objects that reflect the city’s fascinating cultural dynamics; examining ‘display’ as an arresting spatial tactic and site of encounter where the access and engagement with an interior can be realized; conceptualizing, designing and producing a “drawing machine,” that translates user input into large-scale drawings; building (or modifying) a number of experimental cameras to integrate the concept of the photograph into the camera and pushing the of photography beyond its normal format, role and use; dimensional representation inspired by ‪the arabesque and traditional handicrafts of Qatar, combining the precision of digital modeling and fabrication; exploring how a limited resource is transformed through the pressure of increased demand starting with a basic dwelling unit for one, and transforming it through a process of division into a dwelling unit for several; creating a new unique regional product with a cultural reference and opening up a discussion on how Qatar can add value to its farming; mixing the disciplines of architecture and graphic design into a 1:1 scale construction.

The Tasmeem Hybrid-Making Workshops which took place at VCUQatar, were interdisciplinary, collaborative, charette-style workshops that were designed to produce viable end products by the conclusion of the workshop. Over five days, groups of 15 team members comprising faculty and professional artists and designers, collaborated to synergistically create innovative end products. These products, or 'makings', were in the form of academic papers, videos, full scale semi-permanent structures and performances. They included Felt Case Study # 1: the Material is the Metaphor is the Material; Doha Borrowed City; Re-claiming the wild colors of Qatari voices; Food Preparation as Interface; Objects as Locus of Hybridity and Hybrid Making: Transhistorical and Transcultural Explorations; Geometric Aljamía; Innovative Considerations for Traditional Fashion; Souvenir of the Senses; “Illusions”: A Cross-Disciplinary Project for Dance, Music and Multimedia Design; VJ’ing the Narrative and Five Days with Five Senses. 

All of these activities were summarized and framed by the two-day symposium at the Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s Student Center on 16 and 17 March. Tasmeem Doha 2013 – ‘Hybrid Making’ also included a fashion show and series of exhibitions and presentations by artists, designers and architects who have realized projects in the country, or led workshops and labs during the active phase of Tasmeem Doha 2013. The exhibitions will run from March 1 to 31, in the various spaces of the Hamad Bin Khalifa University Student Center that surround the conference hall.

The exhibitions include: Made in Qatar, curated by Constantin Boym, which will feature invited designers collaborating with local craftsmen and fabricators to produce an exhibition that examines Qatari customs and traditions through the act of making; Departmental Exhibition featuring display works made within VCUQatar’s Fashion, Interior Design, Painting and Printmaking, Graphic Design, Art History, and the Center for Research, Design and Entrepreneurship departments responding to the notion of hybrid making; Faculty Exhibition which will feature works by VCUQatar faculty as well as work produced during the Tasmeem Workshops; Exhibition by Invited Galleries from the local community including Al-Markhiya Gallery, Anima, and Katara Art Center; and the Tasmeem Laboratories, a specially prepared exhibition that documents the Tasmeem laboratory process through photography and video which will be assembled the week of Tasmeem, and exhibited in time for the two-day conference.

The Tasmeem Film Festival, a component of the Conference, featured regional and international films, which reflected and embodied the conference themes of ‘Made in Qatar’ or ‘Hybrid-Making’ through the vehicle of the moving image. In addition, the festival also showcased student work produced in the conference workshops. The Tasmeem Exploration Platform (TEP) ran parallel to the conference’s lecture presentations and film festival. The Exploration Platform was designed to facilitate an organic integration of ideas and examples of hybrid making contributed within the conference and a collaborative generation of questions for future inquiries and concepts for potential experiments or applications. TEP had a variety of inputs including 16 papers, 12 workshop outcomes, and extensions from the conference’s film festival and lecture presentations.

Tasmeem Doha 2013 Keynote speaker Rem Koolhaas

VCUQatar Dean Allyson Vanstone during the keynote address on the last day of the Tasmeem Doha 2013 Conference

A section of the audience at Rem Koolhaas’ keynote address

VCUQatar Faculty exhibition at Tasmeem Doha 2013

Tasmeem Doha 2013: Hybrid Making Co-chairs Dr. Johan Granberg and Dr. Thomas Modeen

Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir, professor of product design at The Iceland Academy of the Arts, speaking at Tasmeem Doha 2013

Tasmeem Doha 2013 Fashion Show featuring designs from alumni and workshop outcomes

Architects and Tasmeem Doha 2013 Lab Leaders Sara Shafiei and Ben Cowd along with the student participants presenting outcomes of their lab: Riddles of Perspective: The Distorted Pearl at Tasmeem Doha 2013

Made in Qatar exhibition, curated by renowned designer Constantin Boym, showcased at Tasmeem Doha 2013

Student presenting outcomes of their lab at the HBKU Student Center during Tasmeem Doha 2013

Local gallery Anima exhibiting at Tasmeem Doha 2013

VCUQatar Departmental exhibition at Tasmeem Doha 2013