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AUS becomes first Middle Eastern university invited to participate in prestigious design exhibition to be held in Milan, Italy
Unprecedented in the Middle East, eight students and alumni from the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at American University of Sharjah (AUS) will exhibit new work in furniture at the prestigious SaloneSatellite in Milan, Italy from April 17 - 22, 2012. CAAD is the first and only design school invited to participate from the Middle East.
The participating students, an all-female group with Middle Eastern heritage, will be accompanied by two faculty members and the dean of the college to the exhibition. Created in 1998 in Milan, SaloneSatellite is the most significant gathering of promising international young designers and design schools.
After a very competitive selection process, CAAD was invited to join approximately 700 young designers and 18 international design schools for this year's SaloneSatellite.
"We are very honored to be the first university from the Middle East selected to exhibit at SaloneSatellite," said Peter Di Sabatino, Dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Design at AUS. "This furniture fair and design week in Milan is the most important annual design event globally; and the selection process for SaloneSatellite is extremely competitive. I am very proud of the students and faculty from the College of Architecture, Art and Design; they have done excellent work," he said.
The eight furniture pieces to be exhibited are all designed and built by the students; with four pieces from the Furniture Design Basics course taught by Bill Sarnecky, Assistant Professor in Architecture and four from a collaborative course entitled Form, Furniture and Graphics course taught by Bill Sarnecky and Amir Berbic, Associate Professor in Design.
"After teaching beginning furniture design for five years at AUS, I teamed up this past semester with Amir Berbic to teach a new course entitled Form, Furniture and Graphics. Students in the course were encouraged to explore the potentially reciprocal relationship between two-dimensional graphics and three-dimensional form. Four of the eight pieces traveling to Milan for the exhibition emerged from this course," said Sarnecky.
"In some examples of student work, typographic patterns became a skin for the piece of furniture, while in others, the form of letters was the shaping element. Students from both the architecture and design department enrolled in the course and the unique conditions of the course resulted in a hybrid between 2D and 3D design," added Berbic.
The eight pieces selected from CAAD are all designed by women of Middle Eastern heritage, with some of the furniture being highly influenced by specific traditions, practices and context. The students are Rasha Dakkak, Sarah Alagroobi, Maha Habib, Noor Jarrah, Ghenwa Soucar, Heba Hammad, Danah Al Kubaisy and Marwa Abdulla Hasan.
Palestinian Rasha Dakkak reflects a desire to shape visual culture in a way that best represents the Arab modern identity through her work entitled "Veto." The table's form is derived from a cross-sectional transformation of the Arabic word la (meaning refusal, denial or disbelief) into kalla (indicating strong disapproval, protest or objection). The concept is inspired by dissent expressed in the Arab world during the Arab Spring revolutions.
The concept behind Emirati Sarah Alagroobi's project "Amal's Prayer Chair" originates from her desire to aid her late grandmother and mother who struggled to pray in the prostrate position. According to Islamic tradition, those who cannot physically endure prostration may pray in a sitting position. The typographic pattern on the skin of the chair is derived from the Arabic letter kaf and refers to the "The Throne" (Ayatul-Kirsi), a powerful verse in the Holy Quran. The verse states: "His Chair doth extend, Over the heavens And the Earth..." This chair rocks to aid in the act of praying.
Egyptian Maha Habib's "The Thinker's Chair," was inspired by Rodin's masterpiece "The Thinker." The arching support compels a person to sit in a similar fashion as The Thinker, whose uncomfortable and tortured pose suggests a difficult intellectual struggle. The weaving pattern of text on the surface responds to grid lines established by the wood laminations, and refers to Dante's Divine Comedy, Rodin's original theme for the sculpture.
In her entry entitled "Phoenician Reading Table," American Noor Jarrah is inspired by the Phoenician alphabet, one of the earliest forms of writing. The table surface engraved with Phoenician letterforms provides a base for Latin script emerging from a new, "modern" tablet. The tablet ultimately supports a book in the open reading position.
Syrian Ghenwa Soucar's entry entitled "De-lamination Table" consists of four layers that appear to delaminate like a flexed deck of playing cards. Each of the four layers consist of three laminations of red oak that were steam bent, then glue laminated to lock in the final form.
The polycarbonate panels of Egyptian Heba Hammad's table entitled "Candelabra," originally responded to the ritual of burning candles. The cells of the panels would define pathways for the resulting wax trails. During the design and construction process, the piece evolved into a celebration of its own existence as a minimalist and transparent object.
Danah Al Kubaisy, from Saudi Arabia, explores eruption as a formal quality in "D-Bench," and the deregulation of a rational ordering system along its length. The piece consists of 36 3mm-thick hand-shaped aluminum bars fastened with machine screws to a welded aluminum tube frame. The piece was sandblasted after fabrication and assembly.
Starting with a triangular unit, Bahraini Marwa Abdulla Hasan's "Mesh Table" gradually transforms from a 2D surface pattern toward relief and ultimately into 3D form. A combination of chiseling and hand-held routing with jig and template were used to achieve the pattern condition on the wood.
The selection of the eight women as participants at SaloneSatellite reflects the academic vision and institutional goals of the College of Architecture, Art and Design at AUS which support a culture of design excellence, opportunism, entrepreneurship and leadership in both the creative culture and the creative economy. Design faculty and students at CAAD have a history of making in applied and aesthetic contexts that contribute significantly to the regional and international material culture made in the Gulf region.
As the first Middle Eastern university participating in SaloneSatellite, AUS is proud to be recognized internationally for the quality of its architecture, design and art programs and for partnering with regional and international entities.
The first event to focus on young design talent, the SaloneSatellite immediately became an ideal meeting ground for manufacturers, talent scouts and the most promising young designers. Many of the prototypes presented in previous editions have gone into production, and many of the designers who debuted at the Satellite have since become important names.
This year marks the 15th edition of the exhibition dedicated to designers under 35, and features 700 young designers and students that will exchange and exhibit ideas in this exclusive showcase.