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AUS designs at SaloneSatellite attract international attention
Eight students and alumni from the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at American University of Sharjah (AUS) recently touched back down in the UAE after exhibiting their unique furniture designs at the prestigious SaloneSatellite in Milan, Italy. CAAD is the first and only design school from the Middle East invited to participate. The students and alumni were accompanied by Professor Peter Di Sabatino, Dean of CAAD; Bill Sarnecky, Assistant Professor in Architecture; and Amir Berbic, Associate Professor in Design.
The SaloneSatellite, created in 1998, brings together the most promising young designers from all over the world with the most important business people and talent scouts gathered in Milan to visit or exhibit at the event. 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's event marked the 15th edition of the exhibition dedicated to designers under 35, and featured 700 young designers and students who exchanged and exhibited ideas in that exclusive showcase.
"It is a big achievement. We are honored to bring this international overwhelming attention, which indicates that our students are actively encouraged to apply their special talents" said Dr. Peter Heath, Chancellor of AUS. "The way we teach is the way they work," he added. "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."
"AUS uniquely represented a multinational educational community that was genuinely reflected in the cultural diversity of our participating students. They represented not only their university, but the whole region," said Dean Di Sabatino. "We were the creative voice and energy of the Middle East in Milan."
The AUS students have attracted UAE and local media. The online magazine designMENA said that they "demonstrated obvious aesthetic appeal and strong graphic and cultural component-both extremely relevant to the region. The stand itself made a strong impact and generated a lot of curiosity about the university and the region as the whole."
"All the AUS students received offers to produce their work, but no decision has been made yet, as these works are the property of the students." said Sarnecky. "We kept the details of these manufacturers for the students to assess the offers in more detail upon their return home."
According to AUS Emirati student Sarah Alagroobi, who exhibited her work "Amal's Prayer Chair" in the exhibition, the trip was an incredible experience that allowed for CAAD students to be recognized on an international scale, not only as emerging designers but as women from the Middle East who are contributing to promoting the great business, creative and cultural development of the region. "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 Qur'an. The verse states: "His Chair doth extend, Over the heavens And the Earth..." This chair rocks to aid in the act of praying.
"All of this was both a recognition and external validation of very strong work by excellent students and faculty. Being in SaloneSatellite, and perhaps bringing something new to this most prestigious venue, was a real honor and privilege. We are all very proud of the students, the faculty, the college and university, and the clear potentials coming from the region," Dean Di Sabatino said.
Please visit the AUS SaloneSatellite webpage, for more information and photo galleries.