02 March 2009

VCUQatar invites the public to participate in Design Debate Doha

Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar in partnership with Icograda would like to invite the public to participate in the first of its kind not just in Qatar and the region but the world, the launch of the Design Debate Doha during the Mousharaka conference. Mousharaka will take place at VCUQatar from 28 February to 5 March, 2009.

The Design Debate Doha takes place on 3 March, 2009 and the issue the debate tackles is ‘Globalization harmfully subverts culturally unique sensibilities’. The audience will decide! Panelists for the motion include writer and design critic from the UK, Rick Poynor, Dr. Sami Angawi, Founder and General Director of the AMAR Center in Saudi Arabia, and Australian educator and designer, Russell Kennedy. Panelists against the motion include Qatari architect Ibrahim Jaidah, Roger Mandle, Head of the Qatar Museums Authority and from the Netherlands, Petra Blaisse, founder of design studio Inside Outside.

VCUQatar closed the Education Symposium today with the students’ two-day workshops culminating in an exhibition of the best work in the Orange Hall. A gist of the workshops was presented by each of the Education Speakers with their groups of 20 students each, with Maja Kinnemark, Assistant Professor in Interior Design at VCUQatar introducing the speakers and their projects.

Brockett Horne’s project Mousharaka: the typeface had participants work together to create a picture font that expressed their collective ideas about Qatar. Students created a font covering everything from camel paw prints, local architecture, Arabic calligraphy, seascapes, mosques, the Qatari flag, traffic, buildings, sandstorms, Gahwa, the oryx, pearl, sun and the majlis as the pictograms on which the typeface for the font would be based. This font was then digitized giving students the overall experience of engaging in cross-cultural expression while using design to mediate interaction for those that use the font.

Barbara Sudick and Frank Armstrong’s project Mapping the meaning of places was about sensitizing people to value the environment and think about sustainability, experiencing places through their senses to show they cared for the place. Students had to abandon their trip to Souq Waqif and go to the Villaggio instead for this project. There they spread out and soaked in through sight and sound the different senses and colors, met with people from different cultures and shared points of view that they never had given a thought to before and incorporated all of this into their project.

Claudia Meyer-Newman’s Extreme Design Thinking workshop produced a campaign for the world’s water crisis. The students watched Irena Salina’s award-winning documentary Flow and brain-stormed, visualized ideas and reframed what seemed like an ‘unsolvable’ problem to create feasible solutions dealing with key issues like contamination, water shortage, privatization and depravation of clean water. They designed an interactive installation with questions in bottle caps for guests attending Mousharaka whose responses will be documented as used in putting together the solution.

Leland Hill and Kelley Beaverford’s Getting Started workshop contributed to the development of a course called ‘Service Learning in the Global Community’. A series of exercises were conducted and four topics were selected as final animations. These included Religious discrimination, and the video featured facial portraits to focus on the similarities as opposed to the differences. Other animations focused on the themes of the Environment, War & Peace and Education.

Farid Esmaeil’s CoLab workshop had students work with a postcard, bringing to it all of their ideas and techniques from their different fields – graphic, interior and fashion design to put together a display of disparate images, texts, diagrams coalesced into a fluid sequence of thoughts on the theme of collaboration. Individually each post card is a souvenir for the conference.

Dr. Ajantha Sen’s Playspheres workshop tried to explore ‘play’ as a world of its own, where play comes in the guise of various activities not always obvious as play but with the promise of play. Students were encouraged to think out of the box and visualize environments and strategies aimed at heightening the values of our daily lives through a combination of play and collaboration resulting in a conceptual world residing in a series of mental maps, which could very well exist in the real world with just a little design consciousness.

Nic Vanderschantz’s Collaborative Digital Storytelling explored the potential of digital storytelling to create collaborative and shared digital narratives. The students talked, moved around, brainstormed, learnt to be good listeners and time-managers and produced animations that featured all of these experiences.

Reda Sejini’s Made in Doha: Mapping the Contemporary Gulf City had students covering a sector or zone of Doha, using a digital camera and sketches.
They then presented their findings for discussion and after the filtering process, the examples that most represented the city of Doha’s innate culture was used to produce a small booklet as a cultural guide to the city with a brief essay on why these aspects of Doha’s DNA make it “Doha”.

Ian Grout’s First Contact workshop gathered experiences from students with a focus of their similarities. These were then used to creative different kinds of narratives using images to form collages, as interactive web-pages, mailers interactive business cards based on themes of self, family and home.

The Education Symposium ended in the morning with a summation from Rick Poynor, British writer on design, media and visual culture and Founding Editor of Eye. While agreeing to the many positive aspects collaboration brought to design during the conference, he hoped designers would also come up with other realistic solutions that addressed more issues.

VCUQatar is also proud to announce Sara’s Secrets as a sponsor for Mousharaka. Proprietor Sara Abdulghany A. Nasser, a VCUQatar graduate set up Sara’s Secrets to bring to the region her designs and accessories, all ranging from the casual to the luxurious and targeting all age groups. Her focus is on delivering to the customer what she is looking for and to make sure her customers are completely satisfied, Sara imports accessories from other parts of the world as well. With her own skills being a major factor, and working with the best in the industry, Sara through Sara’s Secrets hopes to change the fashion landscape in Qatar.

Mousharaka / The Icograda Design Week in Qatar, presented by VCUQatar, is composed of the Education Symposium and the Professional Conference, where prominent speakers will share perspectives on design and design collaborations. VCUQatar is also spearheading the creation of MEDEA – the Middle East Design Educators Association - a platform for educators charged with getting the most out of design. For more information about Mousharaka, featured speakers and events, and to register please visit http://www.mousharaka.com/

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