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AUS interior design students turn scrap materials into bespoke exhibition installation
Brand-new interior design graduates Batoul Al Asmar, Rajaa Taye and Laila Matrhji from American University of Sharjah’s (AUS) College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) nailed their recent design project commissioned by global surface manufacturer Cosentino. Their design—RELounge, a sustainably produced installation built almost entirely out of scraps of Cosentino’s leading surface materials Dekton and Silestone and collected from the brand’s fabricators in the UAE—was featured at this year’s INDEX trade fair for interior design.
The second collaboration between AUS and Cosentino, this project saw the students working under Associate Professor Juan Roldán to highlight the importance of sustainability and the company’s dedication to circular economy by making an installation with minimal carbon footprint using leftover scrap slabs from Cosentino.
Miriam Llano, Middle East Marketing Manager at Cosentino, said: “Globally, Cosentino supports the talent and creativity of future architecture and design professionals. In line with this commitment, we first collaborated with AUS in 2018 to create an installation at Downtown Design. Back then, we threw them a design challenge to create a piece that embodies the DNA of the brand and we were pleasantly surprised when they responded with a minimalistic architectural piece.”
“In this second edition of our partnership with AUS for INDEX 2021, we really wanted to focus on our values of sustainability. And once again, the students came back with a design proposition that was on point. RELounge worked with the ideas of reconstituting, recycling and reimagining materials,” she said.
“We have thoroughly enjoyed working with the students of AUS and hope to carry this partnership into the future. We also hope that these projects have helped the students link academic and theoretical ideas with professional experience,” said Llano.
The students’ original design inspiration was the Charles and Ray Eames’ House of Cards, which is a creative toy used to create diverse designs using an assembly technique known as notching.
“This inspired the way we created the playful 3D pieces using the scrap slabs in the early stages of design. After several visits to factories and seeing the material we attained, we maximized the use of the remaining slabs as much as possible by assuring minimal wastage. The final product features a patchwork floor of smaller strips of scrap material of various sizes—an abstraction of old cobbled streets. The floor tiling resembles the challenge to create patchwork using only the scrap slabs from different collections in both colors and sizes,” said Al Asmar.
In their four years of study at CAAD, the trio had the opportunity to explore and apply a wide range of design techniques and styles; however, this collaboration with Cosentino took their learning to the next level.
“We are grateful to have experienced a real-life project under the supervision of Associate Professor Juan. It greatly impacted our experience in CAAD because we learned how to communicate and apply design work in real life. We realized that design is only a fraction of real work, and teamwork and communication are what makes a design project successful,” said Taye.
As the three interior designers step into the professional arena as new graduates, they hope to refine their skills in the workforce and graduate studies before potentially opening their own design firm together.
“From different experiences throughout our academic years we realized that our strengths and skills intersect well together,” said Matrhji.
For more information about the Bachelor of Interior Design program at American University of Sharjah, visit www.aus.edu/caad.