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Furniture design exhibition showcases AUS students’ craftsmanship
Visitors are welcome to come and view the furniture design exhibition, Rituals of Daily Life, at the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at American University of Sharjah (AUS). The exhibition includes work by 12 students who were enrolled in the course Furniture Design Basics taught by Tonya Sweet, Professor of Design, during Spring 2012, and the pieces on display include one-of-a-kind benches, stools, chairs, tables and lamps, expressing culturally inspired patterns, themes and material palettes.
The furniture pieces are fabricated in a variety of materials, including wood, steel, upholstery, concrete, wicker, and paper. Students used a variety of techniques and processes in the fabrication of their design including digital and traditional approaches.
According to course instructor Tonya Sweet, "The furniture was designed and fabricated by the students according to their personal approach to the concept 'rituals of daily life.' After a great deal of design development, the final designs shown in the current exhibit are inspired by rituals such as the tradition of drinking Arabic coffee, the weaving of the prayer rug and baking special pastries with members of the family in preparation for a holiday. As many of these rituals and traditions reflect their culture, students found creative methods of incorporating culturally specific patterns and material palettes into their designs."
Speaking at the exhibition, Peter DiSabatino, Dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Design, said, "This exhibition represents a trajectory of excellence in furniture design. When you look at the work exhibited by our students in Milan, the body of work in the last few years and now this, you might say it is a tradition of excellence. If work of this quality and volume can be done in one class in such a short time, it depicts just how great the caliber of our students and faculty is."
The furniture displayed in the exhibition showcases a wide range of materials and methods of fabrication. The students made good use of the lab facilities in CAAD and had access to state-of-the-art tools and facilities, which provided them with a unique educational opportunity.
The participating students are currently enrolled in their fourth year of the interior design and architecture programs at CAAD.
"It was amazing experience and I learned a lot especially because I am studying interior design, and furniture is an important part of interior design," said participating student Renad Hussein. "The design of my table is inspired by the enriching ritual of sharing Arabic coffee. The height of my table invites people to gather around in close proximity to each other, promoting conversation and friendship. The materials used in this piece - concrete and teak - speak to the longevity of this cultural tradition while simultaneously supporting a contemporary aesthetic."
"My piece was a lighting fixture. When I started working on it, I wanted to make a statement about the consumerist society we live in. In particular, I wanted to shed light on the ignored potential of packaging materials, the kind of materials that you don't even glance at before throwing in the garbage," said architecture student Mays AlBeik. "My lamp's form is reminiscent of a seed, which speaks of protection, and that idea of packaging. I wanted the form to have the feeling of growth and of nature, while still retaining a modern aesthetic. As people traditionally link beauty with nature, I wanted the lamp to evoke an idea of unorthodox beauty, and to show that cheap materials have the potential to be as beautiful and precious and the items they were made to protect."
The exhibition is not the first time AUS students have had their furniture designs showcased. In April, eight students and recent alumni were invited to showcase their new work in furniture design at the prestigious SaloneSatellite in Milan, Italy. On this occasion, CAAD was the first and only design school from the Middle East invited to participate.
The Rituals of Daily Life exhibition was launched on Thursday, September 20, and will be open to the public till October 4 at the CAAD Main Gallery.