Projects shown here are from senior Graphic Design students working on a BFA thesis exhibition, and MFA students working on their final thesis. In 2015-16 and 2016-17 I co-taught our BFA Senior Thesis 'capstone' course, partly due to my interest in the course, and partly for pedagogical research.
The course helps student prepare a written thesis (including an abstract, inspiration, experimentation, precendent, case studies, implications, conclusion and future directions), a book publication (text, image, and diagrams), a body of visual work (medium of choice), and final exhibition. My primary goal of this course is to prepare students in diverse trajectories of their choosing: designer as entrepreneur; designer as interventionist; designer as storyteller; designer as creative strategist; designer as a creative producer; and designer as studio practitioner. Although I create an open environment to pursue individual topics of interest, the overall premise of the course investigates the 'context of culture' and 'design systems' as a means to shape ideas.
Alisha Saiyed. Mimesis: An investigation into the immigration narrative.
Immigration, the simple act of moving from country A to country B, is loaded with connotations – often negative, starting with the different terms we use to define immigrants. This thesis is a series of questions, rather than answers. How do we talk about immigrants? What are the implications of these labels on our perception of people, and perhaps more importantly, what are the implications on our perceptions of the self? Why has migration, a pre-historical human phenomenon, become a topic of contention? Mimesis is an attempt to unpack what it means to be an immigrant at a time when documentation and legal statuses are more linked to identity than ever before. This thesis explores the complexities of immigration, conveyed through a collection of photographic and narrative artifacts.
Wadha Al-Thani. Masquerade: An exploration of modern papercraft and traditional masks.
Masks have played a significant role throughout human history. The idea of concealing and modifying facial and head features relates back to hunting, religion, ceremony, tradition and culture. Here in the Arabian Gulf, a mask has cultural female significance through the batoola and niqāb, which are used to conceal one’s identity. As a Qatari woman, I am interested in pushing cultural expectations and exploring the shape and form of a mask as a modern and sophisticated artifact. I chose to work with paper as my primary source of material because it closely resembles the material of the batoola as well as allowing me to explore the physicality of paper. The motifs are descended from traditional gold jewelry and converted into visual imagery using the technique of plotter drawing. This thesis is an opportunity for me to expand my knowledge of paper craft, explore boundaries of digital and physical production, and in the process, hopefully present a sense of modernity and appreciation for traditional masks.
Dana Alhamad. No More Khaleeji: A new look at old traditions
Many design cultures around the world are grounded aesthetically in a history with rich stylistic languages that have been transformed through appropriation and rebellion. Qatar, being relatively new to the art and design scene, is slowly embracing the opportunity to grow, define and explore its own unique visual cultural identity. This thesis investigates the visual language of Qatar, with the intent to construct and define that language by extracting inspiration from glitch, retro video game aesthetics, and Japanese pop culture. As a means to experiment with new visual languages, I have contrived a fictional khaleeji/punk rock Qatari band called Eyal El Fereej (The Neighborhood Kids). The intent of the band is to interject an underground movement to spark cultural discourse embedded in the aesthetics of place, and to comment on Qatar’s current ‘glitch’ state.
Manar Hashim. Circles and Lines: Restructuring Islamic geometric pattern into new forms.
The rapid economic and population growth in Qatar has led to modern changes in the design field. Qatar’s National Vision 2030 responds to this and seeks to connect and balance the old and new. The geometric patterns in old Qatari architecture are overused, and there seems to be limited forward movement in terms of new pattern making. This thesis explores the complex mathematical and algorithmic underlying grids to understand how geometric patterns are constructed. Employing that knowledge, I have deconstructed traditional motifs and reconstructed contemporary design systems using simplified lines. In my personal design practice I pay close attention to details, enjoy experimenting with materials and aesthetics, and I am interested in translating cultural identity into new graphic languages. The aim of this thesis is to expand upon the visual language of Islamic patterns within the context of the Gulf, and to share with others my research into new modes and methods of making and creating work.
Rabeya Khatoon. Where is “Home”? An exploration of ‘belonging' as an expat.
Expatriates choose to uproot from one place to another for employment opportunities, a better quality of life, family obligations and many other reasons. The decision to leave “home” results in new contextual situations where they are compelled to adapt to new cultures and build a relationship with a foreign land. What parts of culture, objects, customs, and beliefs are being exchanged amongst us? The question of “where is home?” has a strong personal connection to me, my family, many of my friends and people living overseas. As a third culture kid, I grew up in a place away from home for two decades, and yet this is home. This thesis investigates the dichotomy of home and a sense of belonging from the outlook of expats. By combining photography, typography and narrativity I intend to create a sense of empathy and understanding of home from different perspectives.
Eman Al-Jailay. De-Blacking: Eradicating whitewashed beauty standards.
The social effects of colonialism and slavery still exist within Black communities today. Through the bias separation of slaves based on skin tone, present day colorism remains prevalent in our contemporary culture. Today, lighter skinned individuals are deemed more beautiful and desirable, and are often associated with a more educated and higher class of people. Black women have embraced recent cultural trends and have been bleaching their skin with toxic creams and chemicals in order to achieve a lighter complexion, in an attempt to align with society’s beauty standards. As a young Black woman of Sudanese descent, I aim to mock the atrocious outcomes of colorism, and reignite conversations about beauty, success, and desirability within both Black and diverse communities. My thesis will investigate the ideology of 'De-Blacking' one's self through a series of speculative products, short films, and found cultural artifacts to exploit the whiting narrative.
Alaa Bata. What Memories Are Made Of. An investigation into materiality and narrativity.
As a graphic designer, I am continuously interested in exploring how materials and modes of fabrication can expand communication and interaction between audiences and artifacts. The way an object looks and feels impacts our emotional connection to that object, and may evoke a visceral response or memory. I am intrigued by how memories could be used as a tool to develop objects that tell stories, and how those objects could then provoke the audience to add their own memories and experiences. This led me to explore some of my own personal memories and design a series of minimalist, narrative-based, 3D ‘graphic objects’ made from various materials such as wax, glass, concrete, and paper. This thesis seeks to understand how material objects can not only help preserve a memory, but become a powerful design tool to extract a memory into a tangible form.
Maha Al-Naemi. Artificial Perfection. A young woman living in a materialistic society.
Social media has allowed us to generate our own outward persona to the public, and portray our own fictitious sense of authenticity. We are all guilty of falsifying the realities in which we live in order to impress friends, comply with family pressures and align with cultural expectations. Deceit is not something you see clearly; it is hidden under different veils of reality. We constantly photograph ourselves and mimic the lifestyles of the wealthy in order to imply that our lives are much more amazing than they really are. Although this behavior occurs globally, here in Qatar social structures in many different communities and cultures place a significant importance on how we are supposed to conduct ourselves both publicly and privately. At times it seems we are all actors simply performing the roles we are supposed to play. This project investigates the idea of why attempting to be perfect is so imperfect.
Maryam Al-Adawy. Cold Slice. An illustrated journey into a fantasy pizza world.
Layla Nasser, an 18-year-old high school senior, is overwhelmed by the anxiety of waiting for her college acceptance letter. She decides to go for a walk outside to de-stress. During her walk, she finds an old pizza box on the sidewalk and opens it out of curiosity. Inside the box she finds a strange note asking her to eat a slice of pizza. Layla eats it thinking that someone left it as a prank. Almost instantly, a mystical change occurs that causes her to lose control; sending her into a world no one knew existed. Cold Slice is a story of obsession and escapism that takes you through a journey of hallucinations forming a fictional pizza world. Through the mediums of photography and illustration in graphic design, this thesis investigates the idea of escapism due to societal pressures, power structures, and cultural challenges faced by today’s youth.
Aisha Al Saad. Atelier Dukkan. Nostalgic snack food brands and cultural preservation.
French for ‘studio’ and Arabic for ‘small retail store’, Atelier Dukkan is a concept for a new specialized market catering to an audience who seek Qatari snack foods from the past, but with a contemporary twist. Traveling back to my childhood I remember the variety of chips and other snack foods that I consumed during family events and special gatherings. These snack food products were often purchased at small local markets, and are embedded with meaning and collective memory. However, many of these products have gone out of production or decreased in popularity and have given way to new products and Western brands. This thesis aims to investigate the life cycle of traditional Qatari-consumed products and their inherent cultural and nostalgic values. Employing the idea of a hypothetical store, the work will explore methods of branding to reinvigorate products from the past and make them popular again.
Amina Aldarwish. I Tie My Shoes with Double Bows. A whimsical look at human behaviors.
As we navigate our daily routines, we often overlook the subtle moments, actions and interactions that occur in our daily lives. The way we tie our shoes or wrap our shaylas, how we stand or fidget when nervous, how we eat or chew, or how we chose to stand while in a conversation. These are all habitual actions we have developed through subconscious thoughts, but make us who we are. But what happens if we stop for a second and recognize our own actions, and ask ourselves why? As a young Qatari woman living within a diverse community, I am investigating through this thesis the observational subconscious actions and little quirks of people around me. I will be exploring and documenting narrative structures to tell stories about everyday life actions, through a series of comic-style illustrations.
Muna Al Majid. ريحة هلي / Rehat Hally (The Smell of Family).
In the discipline of visual communication design, smell is often forgotten, and yet it is one of the most powerful senses. Smell can be a metaphor for evoking our life experiences: memories of people and places, “the smell of rain”, “the smell of grandma’s house”, “the smell of Eid”. In Qatari culture, smell has a long tradition through the use of the Bakhoor, Oud fragrances, and other perfumes that are used in daily life, special occasions, and ceremony. My thesis is an opportunity to explore smell as both a poetic narrative of culture, and as a new brand identity. In a country where most goods and services are imported, I want to use my design abilities to create a product line inspired by local customs and introduce it to a global audience.
Noora A. Alfadala. Fit the Mold: Shattering Gender Stereotypes. in Qatar
Culture is a connecting factor that celebrates similarities and a common view of life. Despite culture being a valuable asset, it can also hinder individual goals and aspirations. In a small community, with a strong unified culture, the society of Qatar can both positively support, and negatively impact an individual’s professional aspirations and life choices. This thesis investigates gender roles within Qatari culture through personal observations, gathered data, and metaphorical design interventions. This work hopes to prompt meaningful dialog exploring these issues while still respecting cultural traditions.
Hazem Asif. Shatranj-Namah: Speculating Fiction Through. World Building: A Social Commentary
Over the centuries, human civilization has progressed intellectually, morally, and even spiritually. We have forced the environment to adapt to our needs, created governments to control our collective actions, and constructed borders to separate our diverse cultures. As humanity continues to change in response to our modern world, alternative futures are rife with possibilities and risks. This thesis investigates the potential shortcomings of our modern urban civilization by using graphic illustration and typography to create a speculative utopian/dystopian world inspired by the game of chess. This fictional world aims to immerse viewers in an experience that creatively addresses global issues, human rights, and collective beliefs through design.
Wurood I. Azzam. Art & Co.: Can’t Afford the Art? Buy the Artist!
Our growing consumer culture is quickly becoming a driving force in artistic production. Capitalism, fame, and monetary gain are overshadowing the significant role artists play in the evolution of culture and history. Even further, the identity of an artist is shifting to an aesthetic ‘brand’ with museum gift-shop sales playing a significant role in artistic ‘success.’ This thesis aims to challenge notions of the art world as a branded reality by playfully, and ironically, showcasing well-known artist personalities and styles in a range of formats. The series of minimal illustrative portraits serve as commentary on our current consumer culture by enabling first-time museum attendees and creative collectors to ‘purchase’ their favorite artists in the form of gift-shop artifacts.
Dana Abdallah B. Chua. BalikBaybayin: Return to Baybayin.
Daily Interfaces for Cultural Transition. The Senate House Bill No. 1899 – Baybayin Act of 2013 officiates the return to the Baybayin indigenous script in the Philippines. As the government implements this script on seals and products, the linguistic transition will eventually affect daily written communication. In response to this initiative, my thesis presents a body of work that utilizes visual mnemonic devices presented through everyday interactions. These daily interfaces have the potential to engage future generations in learning through memorization and capture the imagination of a broader audience. I posit that my discoveries will enable Filipinos to experience an easier transition to everyday use of Baybayin, while encouraging future generations to sustain their linguistic heritage.
Malak A. Elzahed. Sticks and Stones: Explorations in Typographic Materiality.
Throughout the history of graphic design, there has been an ongoing fascination with typography as a mode of expression and communication. An increasing interest in typography as image, or object, continues to capture the imagination of designers through new innovations in digital technology and design processes. Typography has evolved from the physical form of the letterpress to flattened reproductions on the photostat, to intangible digital environments and recently into expressive physical manifestations. This thesis is a personal journey through a range of typographic approaches, transforming traditional methods into new typographic forms that incorporate materials, textures, and physicality into the design process. The aim is to develop new ways of working in design, while expanding the visual language of the current material-type paradigm.
Noof Al-Buainain. Moahrab: An Intersection of Qatari Vernacular.
Arabic language has many different dialects and variations that have accumulated over time due to the influence of other foreign languages and changes in communication technology. The form of Khaleeji Arabic spoken in Qatar has evolved into two parallel dialects, a classic dialect that has been the core of communication in Qatar, and a modern dialect that has been created by the local youth. For instance, the written version of the youth spoken dialect has resulted in various forms of interpretation, such as ‘Arabizi’, that uses numbers as part of Arabic transliteration to pronounce sounds that cannot be represented by Latin script. My thesis investigates hybrid typographic solutions to communicate the written and spoken Qatari dialect in relationship to Latin language. These solutions aim to introduce a new script that uses Latin letters to communicate Arabic dialect. I intend to highlight the essence of Qatari dialect and how we communicate on a daily basis.
Mayasa V. Agha. Then, Now & Tomorrow: Photography as a Tool for Memory.
Photographic images shape our lives. We continuously encounter an assault of photographs that give us insight into the daily lives of our friends and family. We snap photos as a pervasive practice and share them through social media like it is second nature. Pictures once held precious memories and were carefully kept in albums as keepsakes for future generations. Now, technology has stripped this value from the photograph by reducing it to a simple mechanism for momentary communications. Images, once kept for years, now disappear in seconds. But do we ever stop and wonder what any of this means or how it will affect our future memories? My thesis is an exploration of this photographic dichotomy, then and now.
Jawaher M. Al-Hajri. Beyond Paper: Artists Books as Tools to Explore Our World.
The artist book is a unique medium that allows a combination of expressions: a designer’s thinking, a craftsman’s skill, a painter’s eye, and the artist’s imagination. The potential to invent new physical forms, experiment with image and text, and incorporate tactile material, is what fascinates me as a designer. The structure of the book can become a physical space used to explore the layers of sediment showing the makeup of our universe. With my thesis serving as a metaphor for creativity beyond the screen, the ‘reader’ interacts and experiences poetic narratives of discovery through the creative form of the book.
Aisha A. Al-Muzafer. The Norms of Behaviors: Habitual Tendencies.
Good or bad, each of us have formed many habits, routines, and rituals that help us manage our day, in turn, shaping our identity. At its fundamental core, a habit is embedded into our procedural memory as a mean to automate tasks, and create consistent patterns as we navigate our lives. My interest is not to define good and bad habits, or attempt to improve the way we live our lives, but simply collect and highlight the unique and quirky behaviors that make us human beings. This thesis will create mechanisms through which people can learn, share, draw inspiration, and relate to each other’s habits and behaviors. The intent of the work is to highlight our personal habitual differences and similarities through playful discovery.
Maryam J. Al-Meraikhi. Fictionality: Visual Record of “Things”.
The history of Qatar has been documented in words and pictures, but neither of these sources are able to fully capture the essence of the culture and tradition of the country as it has developed through time. As a young Qatari designer, my interest is in researching the past and developing new ways to communicate historical information through simple graphical representations. Fictionality is a brand I have developed that uses a systematic series of minimal illustrations with a unique visual language to tell stories and evoke imagination. The illustrated scenes show unique comparisons between old and new cultural practices in order to create playful and educational narratives that take shape through various interactive artifacts, prints and products. By making these narratives visually tangible using contemporary visual language these products can reflect and maybe even shape modern Qatari culture.
Abdul Rahman Anwar. Geared to Stars: Title Mapping the Mathematical Motions of Stars.
The Universe is an unknown and distant territory encompassing everything that exists and will exist. This thesis investigates the vast complexity of space through illustrations that explore our solar system's unseen orbital patterns and planetary relationships. Users investigate the textures, dimension, and movement of celestial bodies through drawing apparatuses and geared instruments such as orreries and spirographs. This project hopes to foster a sense of curiosity and wonder by engaging users in interactive devices that make the hidden beauties of astronomy tangible.
AlDana M. AlHajri. Amaar: Exploring Qatari Architectural Aesthetics
Architecture plays a significant role in the history of Qatar. What if the forgotten Qatari architectural identity could be recreated through new graphic visual languages and techniques? This thesis explores this question by drawing attention to the fascinating beauty and philosophy behind Qatar’s local architecture. The aim is to introduce Qatar’s residents to the traditional architectural designs in a contemporary way and encourage a new appreciation for the architecture of the past.
Shahad Y. Al-Malki. Forgetting: Signs of Deterioration in Alzheimer's Disease.
Memory is the record of our lives, it gives shape to our experiences and lets us capture and relive the moments that define us. The possibility that any of us may lose this very human capacity is a terrifying reality. This personal body of work uses design to explore Alzheimer’s Disease by creating visual and typographic interfaces that challenge viewers with the unfamiliar and ambiguous. My thesis aims to provide theoretical sensory experiences of an Alzheimer patient by creating conceptual visual interpretations, with the intent to generate awareness and empathy for people with the disease.
Nabiila N. Lubay. Metanoia: Relationship Boundaries Between the Human and the Non-Human.
Over the course of human history, we have valued and created spiritual connections with our natural world. However, as time progressed, these connections were replaced by new values and desires. This thesis investigation is a metaphorical reaction to our current state of human existence. The work combines narrative and surrealism to create deep illustrative worlds and fantastical character design. The intent of this work is to revive our human relationship with nature, prompting us consider the implications of our actions and how they will impact the future of our world.
Fatima R. Al-Naimi. We Are Who We Are: Preserving Qatar’s Heritage Through Visual Interpretation.
As a country experiencing constant change, with significant economic growth and urban transformation, Qatar is working hard to promote and conserve its natural beauty and architectural heritage. By illustrating the country's landscape and architecture, this research intends to preserve memories of Qatar's history. The design of minimalistic visual forms and tangible interactions aim to engage future generations in celebrating the past, and future, of Qatar.
Maha M. Akl. The little Naturalist عالم الطبيعة الصغير : Illustrating the Overlooked
I consider myself a naturalist as much as I am a designer. I am continuously fascinated by the plants, animals, insects, sea life and other creatures that live among us. Children today are more likely to grow up in urban environments where establishing a connection to the natural world is increasingly difficult. Growing up in Egypt, and now living in Qatar, I recognize that most educational resources on natural environments utilize western languages. In my thesis I explore how whimsically illustrated images and inventive bilingual text can inspire the youth of tomorrow to take an active interest in the natural world that surrounds us.
Sara Ebrik. Nos Nos: Culture Mash-Ups from the Perspective of a Third Culture Kid.
Third Culture Kids (TCK’s) constitute a meaningful and rich component of Qatar's current population. Although they are long time residents of Qatar, Third Culture families primarily identify with their home country in cultural and social terms. Children of these families tend to develop mixed cultural identities, blending characteristics of “home” with their current location. Using Lebanon and Qatar as sources of inspiration, this thesis aims to create a hybrid graphic vernacular using a cultural mash-up of contemporary and nostalgic artifacts. The resulting design interventions playfully utilize brand identities of consumer products to raise awareness about the TCK phenomenon.
Noor AlThani. Impermanence
Impermanence. Translating Islam into a contemplative design practice in order to create experiential interventions that makes us pause for a moment, and perhaps see the world in a new light. This project aims to direct people's perception of the Islamic way of life in a different direction. At the culmination of this exploration of experiential design, the audience interacts with - and becomes a part of - the work. Thus, the net effect on an individual level is one of calming, it slows the user down in order to put them in touch with themselves spiritually and embrace the here and now. On a broader spectrum, this project explores the idea of impermanence - how nothing, whether good or bad, lasts forever, but rather exists in a state of flux; the environment, people, even a barren desert changes. We are transient ourselves - our bodies, memories - are impermanent.
Mohammed Jawad. Cultural Acclimatizers
I believe design is the balance between opposite extremes, of unity and contrast, composition and raw expression, simplicity and complexity. My curiosity has allowed me to discover a deeper capacity to design that lies beyond visuals and material forms. My design process focuses on the metamorphosis of a simple idea and the use of a multi-disciplinary approach to develop innovative solutions through human interaction. As a visual communicator, my design capabilities revolve around the subjects of sustainability, functionality and adaptation. The outcomes I create are a representation of critical thinking that allows the users to interact, navigate, experience and transform with the designs I create. My interest lies in re-contextualizing of design language to develop responsive, functional design that creates new meanings and relationships between the user and the environment, the mechanical with the artistic, the rational with the abstract, and the seen with the unseen.