AUC Graphic Design Grads Shine at Dubai Design Week's MENA Grad Show
From applications that support dementia patients and promote the upcycling of biodegradable materials to anti-air pollution kits and a board game that educates players on internet privacy, four fresh graduates from AUC showcased their work on the international stage at Dubai Design Week's MENA Grad Show.
Lama Adham ‘21, Donia Elshimy ‘20, Amanda Ioannou ‘20 and Reem Hasebou ‘20 traveled to Dubai along with Ghalia Elsrakbi, associate professor of practice and director of AUC’s graphic design program, to share with the public their final products, or prototypes, that were a year in the making — each one providing a creative and innovative solution for a problem facing the world.
“The event aims to support students and their ideas,” Elsrakbi said, explaining that participating at the show can open the door for students to turn their products into reality.
Although the prototypes were born out of the quartet’s graduation projects for the same subject – graphic design – they all differ greatly. Adham’s project, titled Waft, is a sustainable wearable technology kit designed for protection from air pollution. Elshimy created DemiCare, a mobile application that supports dementia patients and informal caregivers. Ioannou produced Al Madda, a website and app aimed at promoting the upcycling of biodegradable materials. And Hasebou released Terms & Conditions, a board game that educates players on privacy, security and data consumption.
During the weeklong event, two projects from AUC — Adham’s and Elshimy’s — were selected for the show’s Entrepreneurship Programme, which will provide them with mentoring, funding and business development support for their products.
In order to develop the prototypes for their projects, graphic design students at AUC must conduct a semester’s worth of extensive background research, followed by a semester dedicated to the meticulous design of the final product itself, Elsrakbi reported. “For example, in her first semester, Donia conducted research on dementia patients,” she said. “She then [in her second semester] designed the application, tested it, made a prototype and presented it.”
Though the products may vary, each alumna spoke about her project with passion. “I wanted to use my work for my graduation project for the greater good,” Adham said, explaining that her product both improves health on a local and global scale and creates awareness about air pollution.
“As a former caregiver myself for four years, information seeking [on dementia] was very difficult,” said Elshimy. “I hope that DemiCare is able to support and guide the caregivers to be able to support their loved ones with a comfortable daily life.”
“I hope that 'Terms & Conditions' is able to create a cross-generational space of learning and sharing about topics of data consumption, privacy and security,” added Hasebou, who also minored in anthropology. “The game was created for 13-17 year olds but can be utilized by all ages. It is meant to help start a conversation between family members and friends in a fun and engaging manner.”
Ioannou noted passion in her audience as well: “I was so blessed to have been featured in Dubai Design Week, where I got to meet experts in the field, receive feedback from multiple age groups and watch children and students surprisingly get particularly intrigued about the project,” she recalled. “It was amazing to see how many people were interested in the project and looking forward to downloading the application and trying out these materials from home with their families — that is the main point of the project.”
Also present at the show were investors and people from the culture and innovation sectors, as well as students and professors from other universities — a mix full of networking opportunities for the participants, according to Elsrakbi. “It’s a great opportunity and very important to our program at AUC,” she said.
“It truly was a wonderful opportunity to not only showcase my work but also to meet designers based in the MENA region with the same passion for design that centers around social impact and education,” Hasebou said.
"I am glad to have received press coverage from large platforms such as Architecture Digest Middle East, Sky News Arabia, Arab News and The National", Ioannou added. "I also got to personally present my project to many celebrities, including Sheikha Latifa Bin Rashid.
“The global grad show has been a dream of mine,” Elshimy said. “It's important as a designer to reflect on the work of other designers, scientists and engineers, and get together to showcase urgent solutions that can impact and shape our future and societies.”
“Being featured in Dubai Design Week was a huge privilege and something I consider as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Adham said. “Exhibiting my work to big names and being featured in articles from major publishing houses was a great honor and really gave me a push to further develop my project.”
Beyond the unique experience, the grads are also grateful for the support and guidance they received from Elsrakbi and other faculty members in the program. “Of course, I owe a big thank you to Dr. Ghalia for always pushing us to delve deeper and let the research not only inform but guide our design process,” Hasebou said.
Similarly, Elsrakbi is pleased with the work of her students, noting that this is the fourth year that AUC has been represented at the show. “We are proud as faculty," she said. "It's rewarding to see all of the hard work being acknowledged and celebrated.”
All Photos courtesy of AUC's Design Program