Design Education in the Middle East Part II

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Special thanks to:

Mom, Dad and my sister Prof. Dr. Michael Erlhoff Prof. Dr. Uta Brandes Alyssa Stoisolovich Pia Drechsel Jochen Edling Linda Selwood Choueiri Diane Mikhael Minassian Prof. Dr. Anne Krefting Marwan Fayed Marcus Matossian Peter Wylde Jimmy Elias Simon Mhanna Mario Aoun Andre Malak Ayssar Arida Fadi Shayya Notre Dame University KISD

I hereby guarantee that no part of this thesis entitled, Design Education in the Middle East, which might be submitted for publication, has been copied from a copyrighted work, except in cases of passages properly quoted from a copyrighted work, copied with permission of the author, or copied from a work in which I own the copyright; that I am the sole author and proprietor of the thesis; that the thesis in all respects complies with the Copyright Revision Act of 1976; that it contains no matter which, if published, will be libelous or otherwise injurious to, or infringe in any way the copyright of any other party; and so on and so forth...


The interviewees: Reham Mogawer Golnar Rahmani Joanna Choukeir Yara Maalouli Vrouyr Joubanian Khajag Apelian Salma Adel Roula El Khoury Krystian Sarkis Salma Mashhour Project participants: Dima Boulad Nadine Feghaly Nayla Yehia Marc Esber Dominique Maalouf Danny Khoury Pierre Abi Younes Roxanne Zalloum


chapter two

Table of Contents

design schools in the middle east Cairo:

German University Cairo

School description, Project samples & Interviews

Tehran: Tehran University, College of the Arts

School description, Interview & Project samples


Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar School description & Interviews


chapter one

the past & the present


Beirut: American University of Beirut

School description, Project samples & Interviews

chapter three design schools in europe & US Köln International School of Design

Lebanese American University

School description

School description, Project samples & Interviews

Design Academy Eindhoven

The Middle East in a Nutshell

Academie Libanaise des Beaux Arts

The Middle East Today

Notre Dame University

Parsons the New School

Overview & Commentary

Overview & Commentary

Historical Overview

Economy Cultural Identity & Globalization Education

School description

School description, Project samples & Interviews

School description

School description, Project samples & Interviews

Design Education in the Middle East 100

chapter four the project


Public Design Intervention: Beirut Introduction to project ‘Enjoy your Green Space’ ‘Noise Pollution in Gemmayzeh’ ‘Bribery’ ‘Public Toilet’ ‘Emigrant’ ‘I ... U’


chapter six The Middle Eastern Design Research Center

chapter five

Plan and Objectives

design education & culture Design Education & Culture: Where’s the Problem?

Cultural Aspects of Middle Eastern Society within design context. Chaos & Urban Design Collectivist Societies & Social Networking Disclosure & Design Research Hospitality & Serive Design



why? On July 12th 2006, yet another war broke out in Lebanon. It was the day of my graduation from university. Eventually, as I joined many others on a military boat to Cyprus with all my packed belongings, I was determined never to come back to live in my country again. The war was an instigator but I had given up long before. I saw no future for myself there in the career that I wanted to pursue. Although I graduated with distinction in my Bachelor degree, I felt that being a graphic designer meant very little to the rest of the world. I wasn’t a scientist, doctor or architect; they have the power to make changes in the world. I was only allowed to make changes on a layout of a magazine or poster. How silly and insignificant. I blame my education system. During the entire course of studies, except for the foundation year, I felt that my initiatives for change were in vain. When I tried to dig deeper for concepts, or go a step further, I was told not to over-conceptualize. When I tried to experiment with different media in packaging, I received low grades since such a ‘manufacturing process’ would not be cost efficient. All projects had to be so confined to the commercial aspect of the design industry, to the extent that all possible barriers one could think of to discourage creativity were present. Eventually, I was told by a professor that if I wanted to be so ‘radical’ in my work, I should probably become an artist, because he believed I didn’t have the capability to understand what it meant to be a designer. As I enrolled in Koeln International School of Design as a Master in European Design student, the shock of the change in the education system left me somewhat paralyzed for a whole semester. For the first time, it was the thinking behind the project that mattered, not the size of the typeface that I used, why I used it, and why I decided to align my paragraph at the right instead of the left. The learning process was about going outside the walls of the school to observe, research, and be critical. I could choose any medium I wanted to convey my message. Moreover, the purpose behind my message or design was usually to solve a problem in society or make a system function better, not to create the slickest image for a company that sells perfume or lingerie. So for my thesis work, I want to initiate a shift in the design education system in Lebanon, and consecutively in the Middle East. As I am part of a European network of designers (MEDes) and have experienced its benefits, I would hope for a similar concept in the Middle East. Four months is barely enough to gather information about design schools in the whole region, and the challenge of a new education system that is culturally appropriate is hardly achievable. This thesis points out several topics that should be further researched within a multidisciplinary scope in order to accomplish a Middle Eastern design education that would no longer be a matter of frustration for young designers in the region. And that is the change that I want to make in the world. Doreen Toutikian June 30, 2010


chapter one:

the past & the present


Beirut 1890. FĂŠlix Bonfils

The Middle East in a Nutshell





Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters, “Blood Borders: How a Better Middle Eastwould Look”, Armed Forces Journal, July 2006.

Before getting into the details of design education, a preliminary study of the general scope of the Middle East from a historical, political, economical and cultural perspective is presented in the next pages. As the thesis revolves around the four major metropolitan Middle Eastern cities; Cairo in Egypt, Beirut in Lebanon , Doha in Qatar, and Tehran in Iran, the information is as concise as possible to these regions, including most historical events that are most relevant to today’s societies.


As the history unveils, the Persian or Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC) could not go unmentioned, as it has had to this day a strong influence on Iranian cultural identity and the global systems that govern us. With the exception of China, The Persians were then masters of the whole civilized world. Persia prospered under a well-structured system of governance based on the Zoroatrianistic values of truth and justice. It was also known for the establishment of the monetary system and the postal service. The Persians made possible the first significant and continuous contact between East and West. It was the world’s first religiously tolerant empire and consisted of a multitude of different languages, races, religions and cultures which demonstrated how diverse peoples can culturally flourish and economically prosper under one central government. Josef WiesehÜfer ; Azizeh Azodi (translator) (2001). Ancient Persia. London, New York: I.B. Tauris, Chapter one.


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Ancient Civilizations Persian Empire

The Middle east is the cradle of civilizations, and if one disregards its ancient history or detaches it from its modern times, the context somewhat remains obscure. In other words, the research dates back to Mesopotamian , Egyptian and Phoenician civilizations to establish the wealth of culture as well as the knowledge that sprung from this area to the rest of the world, the most important example being the invention of writing. In addition, most crafts that were needed for daily use were also invented by these civilizations, much before they reached Europe. In fact it is these crafts that after hundreds of years were modernized and professionalized in terms of Bauhaus design. Moreover, this perspective of a long history re-examines the negative connotations that the Middle East has acquired since colonialism, and puts in perspective the last 500 of the 5000 years of human history.

As the 7th century came to term, so did the rise and spread of Islam. At its greatest extent, the Islamic Empire was the first empire to control the entire Middle East, as well three quarters of the Mediterranean region. The Arab Caliphates of the Middle Ages also first unified the entire Middle East as a distinct region and created the dominant ethnic identity that persists today. What is most important from a design perspective is the visual identity Islam created and spread across the region through its form of architecture, islamic geometric patterns and arabic calligraphy, a natural result of the religion’s belief in aniconism. Ira M. Lapidus. 2002, A History of Islamic Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.




o 14


Ottoman Empire 12

Peter Mansfield, A History of the Middle East, Penguin Books 1991

By the 15th century, the Ottoman emirs rose to power in western Anatolia. The Ottomans conquered the Middle East through Syria and Egypt and moved swiftly through Greece, the Balkans and most of Hungary, setting the new frontier between east and west far north of the Danube. They united the whole region under one ruler and they kept control of it for 400 years. By the 1700s, the Ottomans steadily retreated backwards, and the Middle East fell further behind Europe financially, culturally and politically, weakening the Ottoman rule. By the early, 1900s they were driven altogether out of Europe, and soon the British and

French powers conquered most of the countries in North Africa, the Persian Gulf and the Levant region. An important point to mention in this part of the history of the Middle East is the discovery of oil, first in Persia in 1908 and later in Saudi Arabia and the other Persian Gulf states. The Middle East, it turned out, possessed the world’s largest easily accessible reserves of crude oil, the most important commodity in the 20th century industrial world. The kings and emirs of the oil states became immensely rich, enabling them to consolidate their hold on power and giving them a stake

in preserving western hegemony over the region. Nonetheless, the increasing importance of the oil industry also led to a growing presence of the United States in Middle East affairs. Many regard the aftermath of the Ottoman Empire as the slide backwards for the rest of the Middle East. Major setbacks of the Ottoman regime deprived cultural flourishing, and by the fall of the Empire, the region was tangled with numerous political conflicts, most of which still persist today. The Middle East became gradually dependent on developed countries while their own social, economic and cultural resources were drained out.

The rise of Arabism

Martin Kramer, “Arab Nationalism: Mistaken Identity,” Daedalus, 1993.

Arabism first arose in the nineteenth century not as a direct reaction to Western rule, but as a critique of the state of the Ottoman Empire.Their control had extended over most of the Arabic-speaking peoples for nearly four hundred years, and the Arabs had come to accept their role in the Empire. However, the Ottomans also professed Islam, which the Arabs somehow claimed as their religion first.They carried the pride of the Arab conquests, and their language being that of the Quran revealed to them by God. The decline in the Ottoman Empire also weakened the ArabTurk bond, the Arabs slowly realized the disadvantages of being related to this dying Empire, which was being mocked as “the sick man of Europe”. This lead to the “Arab awakening”, which

was fueled by Arabic- speaking Christian minorities, who were influenced by European currents and worked to transform Arabic into a secular form of modern learning. The Arabic literary revival, centered in Beirut argued for the existence of a secular Arab culture, to which Christians and Muslims had contributed in equal measure. However, this concept of Arabism was different to each side, Christians perceived it as pride in language while Muslims perceived it as the privileged understanding of Islam. By World War I, Arabism took an even more essential role when faced with the two challenges of Turkification and Zionism. Turkification threatened the cultural status quo. Turkishspeaking Muslims then began

to construct for themselves a new identity as Turks, a trend strengthened by Western ideals. Zionist settlement in Palestine threatened the political status quo. Ottoman authorities tolerated the influx of Jewish immigration in the belief that it would ultimately benefit the Empire. As the pace of Zionist immigration and settlement increased, their immediate neighbors grew apprehensive about the possibility of dispossession. From the turn of the century, Ottoman policy toward Zionism became a matter of growing debate and criticism in the Arabic press. In the end this “Arab awakening” failed to produce a trenchant social criticism or a truly modern language of politics. Ultimately it would defeat itself by its apologetic defense of tradition and religion.

A series of drastic consecutive events ranging from wars, interventions, conflicts, conquests and independence declarations took place between WWI and the Cold War; which changed the entire course of the Middle East as we know it today. Some of the highlights of those events relevant to this study are summarized for the sake of situational clarity.


Sykes-Picot 1920

The first of this series of events, which took place in April 1920, was the Sykes-Picot agreement; secretly recognizing most of the northern Levant as a zone of French privilege; the second, the Balfour Declaration - initiated by Britain (figure 1.2), publicly supporting a Jewish national home in Palestine. Ottoman rule had been replaced by British and French imperialism.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement 1916


Arab-Israeli War 1948


In 1948, after the United Nations authorized the partition of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, the first Arab-Israeli war emerged; they claimed to be fighting to uphold their brotherly commitment to the Arabs of Palestine. The war ended with Israel in possession of even more territory than had been allotted by the United Nations, and with the Arab states as reluctant hosts to seven hundred thousand Arab refugees.


1950s 1960s

The Palestine war had demonstrated that the Arabs, despite their newly achieved independence, remained weak. The new champions of Arab nationalism promised an “Arab socialist” revolution that would overcome these weaknesses and propel the Arab world to unity, power, and prosperity. The most famous revolutionary at the time being Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt, who pulled a political victory from the combined British, French, and Israeli attack on Suez in 1956. In his program, Egypt became the very heart of the Arab world, yet it took on an Arab, Muslim, African, or even Afro-Asian character depending on whatever served his purpose, and that is precisely why the whole Arab world loved and believed in him.

But in 1961 his relationship with Syria turned sour, and his involvement in the Yemen war didn’t quite fit the spirit of the Pan-Arab image he professed. When crisis finally broke in 1967, most assumed that they had been strengthened by nearly two decades of Nasser’s social revolution, and the militarization of politics. Instead, they were defeated by the Israelis in six days. Its territorial consequences included the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. The defeat represented nothing less than “the Waterloo of panArabism.”

Martin Kramer, “Arab Nationalism: Mistaken Identity,” Daedalus, 1993.

The return of Islam 1970s

Israeli tanks and villagers of the South of Lebanon 1982 IDF National Photo Collection


Iran’s Revolution

Lebanese Civil War 1960s 1980s

The hope for Arabism had died and the countries of the Middle east were finally starting to each think for themselves. Yet in Lebanon, social peace was in struggle between the Christian view of an “eternal lebanon” and the Muslim view of an Arab Nation. For a time the equilibrium held, and Lebanon established a quasi-democratic public order and a freemarket economy. In times of regional crisis, Lebanon did its duty by words, and managed to dodge war with Israel. But after 1967, Lebanon began to lose its balance. The Muslims, wracked by guilt, demanded that Lebanon finally take up the Arab burden of Palestine, and open its southern border to attacks against Israel. The Maronites (Lebanese Christians), awed by Israel’s example, thought they could turn the state of Lebanon into something comparable; a small powerhouse defiant of the Arab world around it. In 1975, the situation exploded in civil war. When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, it worked even more feverishly with its Lebanese allies to remake the country in its image, but to no avail.

The return of Islamic fundamentalism also played a role in filling the silence left by Arab Nationalism. Arab nationalists had always regarded Islamic loyalty as a potential rival, and had tried to disarm it by incorporating Islam as a primary element in Arab nationalism. The Islamic critique stood on the fact that the Arab nationalists betrayed their fellow Turkish Muslims in order to side with the British, who naturally betrayed them. They blamed the Arab nationalists for abandoning reliance on God and his divine law, and becoming liberals, fascists, and socialists, in mimicry of foreign ideological fashion. This brand of Islamic loyalty enjoyed an immense appeal among the members of the underclasses.

Shi’ites, who constituted large communities in Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf states, were one of the groups who identified with Islamic fundamentalism. Shi’ites also straddled the divide between the Arab states and Iran, many of them regarded Arab nationalism as an artificial division, incompatible with the Arab-Persian symbiosis of contemporary Shi’ism.


Iran in particular was a key U.S. ally, until the revolution led by the Shi’ites who overthrew the monarchy in 1979 and established a theocratic regime, which was even more anti-western than the secular regimes in Iraq or Syria. After Iran’s revolution in 1979, many Shi’ites in Arab lands identified so strongly with its success that they declared their allegiance to the revolution’s leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, and repudiated both Arab nationalism and loyalty to the individual states in which they lived. Lebanon’s Hizbullah took this the furthest, professing absolute obedience to the leader of the Islamic revolution, and denouncing the Arab Nationalists for selfworship and their capitulation to Israel.

Mass demonstration against the Shah in Tehran 1979 GDFL

Despite incredible military expenditures, Saddam’s Iraq immediately broke down, and the scenes of surrendering Iraqi soldiers and burned-out armored columns reminded the world of the defeat of 1967.


The Middle Eastern Order

Persian Gulf War

The arab Nationalists, abandoned by most Arabs mistakingly turned to Saddam Hussein of Iraq as a final resort for a leader. In 1980, Saddam blundered into war with Iran. Then, in 1990, he invaded Kuwait, declaring it a province of Iraq. Possession of Kuwait would have filled the Iraqi treasury in perpetuity. The U.S. responded to the invasion by forming a coalition of allies, which included Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria, and evicting Iraq from Kuwait in what is known as the Persian Gulf War. The Persian Gulf War and its aftermath brought about a permanent U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf region.


In the war’s aftermath, the United States, the Arab states, and Israel formed a new regional order that would represent the ultimate undoing of Arab nationalism. That order, Middle Eastern rather than Arab, and would include Israel as a legitimate state among states, to be recognized by all Arab states following a negotiation of peace and a definition of Israel’s borders. The new order would also include Turkey, and perhaps other states that wished to define themselves as Middle Eastern. The rationale for the idea of the Middle East, made most fully by some Cairo intellectuals, argued that the Arab nationalist vision had become anachronistic. It was ideological in a post-ideological age, and it insinuated continuation of Arab cold war against Israel. The moment had come to shift priorities to the domestic agenda of economic growth. As the unification of Europe seemed to demonstrate, the economic future belonged to regional formations composed of many nations, that cooperated to promote collective security, relieving economies of the massive burden of military expenditure.

Martin Kramer, “Arab Nationalism: Mistaken Identity,” Daedalus, 1993.

By the 1990s, although the Middle East had just come to terms with itself, from the Western perspective it had become not just a zone of constant conflict, but also a zone of backwardness; in fact, the author David Pryce Jones stated that the Arabs were trapped in a “cycle of backwardness from which their culture will not allow them to escape�. The region was falling behind the rest of the world in terms of production, trade, education, communications and virtually every other criterion of economic and social progress. The rapid spread of political democracy and the development of market economies in Eastern Europe, Latin America, East Asia and parts of Africa had surpassed the Middle East by decades. In most Middle Eastern countries, the growth of market economies was inhibited by political restrictions, corruption and cronyism, overspending on arms and prestige projects, and overdependence on oil revenues. The successful economies in the region were those which combined oil wealth with low populations, such as Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. In these states, the ruling emirs allowed a certain degree of political and social liberalization, yet without giving up any of their own power.


The Middle East today is a setting where one can observe the tensions of tradition and modernity, religiosity and secularism, exhibitionism and veiling, and hundreds of other paradoxes. Each of those aspects plays a role into the clichés of what constitutes a Middle Eastern city. Caught between a variety of worlds and ideologies, at its very essence the collective struggle to ascertain one’s presence in the 21st century is clear and vivid. In the current climate of globalization and the growing influence of multi-national corporations, the extreme segregation of social class is astounding. While the rich enjoy the luxuries of internationally catered brands with unabashed frivolity, those who can’t afford their lifestyle suffer the consequences of extreme poverty.

The Middle East Today


With regards to the current economical state, in the Gulf region, some scholars believe that emerging cities are currently undergoing a massive transformation comparable to that of the twentieth century while under foreign occupation. However, this time the changes are fueled by global capital and neoliberal economic policies. On the external level, this change has taken an urban form; the main players are real estate conglomerates and this phenomenon is best observed in Dubai. Various economic statistics indicate that the pace of economic growth in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) is stronger than the rest of the Middle Eastern world. In fact there are several


indicators of a major gap between them, and this gap appears to have widened in recent years. For example, the total population of the GCC countries is approximately 12 percent of the population of the Middle East, but the economy accounted for more than 55 percent of the US$1.25 trillion economy. The 2005 Human Development Index (HDI) shows that Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, and Oman achieved the five highest scores among Middle Eastern countries.

In the case of the Gulf in particular, these major cities are also viewed as recipients of modernity and globalization as well as focal points for an Arabic-Islamic identity. Through their mega-projects, they are in some ways setting themselves apart from the wider Middle Eastern context, deliberately constructing a separate and independent entity for themselves.

Unfortunately, officials in the Gulf are turning towards western architects, and planners to plan, design, form and shape of this A study by McKinsey estimates new identity. The ‘new Middle East’ is based on Western that over the period 2005 to 2020 the Gulf is likely to have conceptions of what the cities should look like and Arabs have a US$750 billion or so going disappeared from contributing into investments in wider Middle East and North Africa. to the design of their daily environment.

Yasser Elsheshtawy, The Evolving Arab City: Tadition Modernity and Urban Development, Routledge New York, 2008 - chapter one

Globalization and Cultural Identity

Globalization and cultural identity is a common discourse in this region; as this is a critical issue, three separate perceptions of the matter are taken into account. There is a common western skepticism about Arabs and globalization, stating that ‘integration seems to entail conflict among Arabs because the cultural values held by the globalization process seem largely paradoxical, even contradictory, to prevalent values in Arab culture’.

Middle Eastern Scholars The Lebanese scholar Pierre Abi-Saab portrays the Arabs in this matter as powerless people that ‘feel the challenge of globalization more than others’; when compared to Europe and the USA, they are in ‘the position of a weaker culture whose existence is under threat’. He claims that it is ‘Americanization’ and not globalization that is sweeping the nation’s youth into their own ideals because of the internet and the media. He also urges the Arab youth for fundamental resistance and self-confidence in developing their own concepts based on their heritage. He even blames the Arab media for not offering a space for Arab cultural flourishing that should be propelled by the youth*. Western Scholars On the other hand, scholars such as Sir John Tomlinson apprehend a more critical approach to the matter stating that globalization is a significant force in the creation and proliferation of cultural identity. He believes that cultural identity is a concept which lies in our contemporary cultural imagination, that it is not a fragile

communal psychic attachment but a considerable dimension of institutionalized social life in modernity, mainly directed through the education system and the media.”Globalization is really the globalization of modernity, and modernity is the harbinger of identity.” He further defines modernity as “the abstraction of social and cultural practices from contexts of local particularity, and their institutionalization and regulation across time and space”. The mode of imagination it promotes is what we have come to know as ‘cultural identity’– self and communal definitions based around specific, usually politically inflected, differentiations; gender, sexuality, class, religion, race and ethnicity, nationality. And in so far as globalization distributes the institutional features of modernity across all cultures, globalization produces ‘identity’ where none existed. This impact might, on a narrow reading, be seen as ‘cultural imperialism’ – in that this modern institutionalization of cultural attachments clearly arose first in the West. But, more interestingly, it can be understood

as part of the cultural package, mixed in its blessings, that is global modernity**. Arab Youth When the Arab youth were asked about their opinions on globalization and cultural identity in a UNDP study, they stressed that globalization represents an opportunity for youth to express themselves in different ways and across spatial boundaries, and thus to grow in cultural interaction and experiential knowledge. Participants asserted that the best way for Arab youth to assimilate globalization, is to continue to harness the vehicles of information and communication technology. Referring to the “right of Arab youth to eliminate technology illiteracy”, they argued that this has the potential to become a tool to enhance Arab identity and global coalition/capacitybuilding to confront violence and ignorance***. *Pierre Abi Saab, “ Arab Culture was under Threat before Globalization”, interview in -Dialogue with the Islamic World- 12 March 2009 **John Tomlinson, Globalization and Culture, Polity Press in association with Blackwell Ltd. 1999 ***UNDP Arab Youth and the Millenium Development Goals, executive summary, 2005



When colonization ended, a strong economic, cultural and political dependence on developed countries remained. In the late nineteenth century, colonial European powers were promoting compulsory education and at the same time seeking territorial and colonial conquests. During the second half of the twentieth century, education has been taken very much as an investment in human capital, with long-term benefits both to the individual who is educated and to the public at large. It is well known that population growth in the Arab countries is among the highest in the world, which makes providing basic education a major challenge. However, education systems in the region, with few exceptions, now provide basic education to most children. Opportunities for secondary education, vocational training and tertiary education are also provided to many students, particularly in urban areas. Primary enrollment shot up from 61 per cent in 1965 to 98 percent in 1990, with particular progress in oil-exporting countries. The economic growth as well as oil incomes facilitated the task of the Arab States in expanding basic education*.

* World Bank (1999). Education in the Middle East & North Africa: A strategy towards learning for development. Washington, DC: The World Bank. ** UNESCO (1998a). Arab States Telecommunications Indicators. Paris: UNESCO. *** Ahmad Al Issa, Global English: Issues of Lnaguage Culture, and Identity in the Arab World, Journal of Educational Sciences, 2009

Literacy Literacy improved dramatically from 1960 to 1995, more than doubling in every country, each starting from a very low baserate. In fact, improvement in literacy was larger than in any other region in the Third World. However, literacy in the region (everywhere except Lebanon) is at least 20 per cent lower among women. Egypt, for example, as the largest Arab country, witnessed a decrease in illiteracy rates to 48.6% in 1995 compared to 55.4% 10 years before and 61.8% 20 years before**. Doubtless, Egypt is achieving certain relative progress in combating illiteracy. But due to its high population growth rate, the absolute number of

illiterate people is increasing, even if the rate of illiteracy decreases. Furthermore, access to newspapers, books and libraries is still limited in the region not only for lack of resources or readers, but also because of a strong political control on printed materials. Access to newspapers varies widely in the region from 15 copies per 1000 inhabitants in Yemen to 110 copies per 1000 inhabitants in Lebanon**. Arabic Language For those who can afford good education in most of these Arabic-speaking nations, English has become a pervasive language, especially in the economic and business sectors. Additionally, children in these countries often begin learning English during their formative years, and English is increasingly becoming the medium of instruction in many schools, colleges, and universities where Arabic is relegated to a secondary status. Although formal Arabic, fos’ha, is taught throughout the Middle East, there is rarely any excitement involved in learning Arabic***. Students find it more difficult trying to learn Arabic especially when it is compared to the colorful, entertaining textbooks and materials of English in addition to the creative and constantly updated pedagogical approaches and methods. As more and more Arabic native speakers communicate in English, even among themselves, we may discover that the place of Arab identity is no longer held entirely in the language of Arabic, if it ever was. Most of us today are aware that global English comes with some positive and negative attachments in terms of its effects on other languages and speakers of those languages***.

Comparisons Some international comparative studies on the quality of education in terms of the acquisition of knowledge, attitudes and skills are available, yet only Jordan has participated in recent international assessment studies. In the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) for 1999, Jordan was near the bottom in mathematics and science. However, most of the countries participating in international comparative studies are industrialized countries. Thus it may be misleading to compare educational performance of countries with different levels of economic development*. Employment In Egypt, the rewards of education in terms of access to more productive employment is becoming increasingly precarious. Open-unemployment has been steadily rising in the last two decades to reach 14 per cent of the labour force in late 1992 and that unemployment has been concentrated among young, new entrants to the labour market with secondary vocational degrees. The next highest rate of unemployment is among university graduates. In general, women are those who suffer the most from unemployment. In this context, the education system does not contribute to improving the average Egyptian’s earnings prospects in the labour market**.


Social Inequalities Inequalities within each country are very prominent. The least privileged and the poor are those most strongly affected by the precarious situation of the education system in the Middle East. In Egypt, The number of working children between 6-14 years of age is estimated to be 1.5 million children, representing an average of 12.5 per cent of the population in question**. Gender With regards to gender equality, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a high-level political commitment, backed with adequate resources, improved gender parity in primary schools: since 1986, the primary school enrollment rate of girls has climbed from 80 to 96 per cent nationally. In general, the female literacy rate in Arab countries is only 44 per cent,compared to 68 per cent for males***.

Private Education Private provision of education varies widely within the region. Private schools outnumber public ones in Lebanon but are very limited in others countries. As in most developing countries, pre-university private education caters mainly to a high and middle-income urban clientele. In Jordan, Lebanon, and West Bank– Gaza, the private sector plays a substantial role in higher education. It is necessary to note the presence of different missions and foreign embassies, which run their own schools, principally serving the children of the specific community. Many are open, however, to certain social, local categories. The religious system has mostly been developed by minority communities: Jews in North Africa and Christians in the Middle East****.

* World Bank (1999). Education in the Middle East & North Africa: A strategy towards learning for development. Washington, DC: The World Bank. ** Fergany, N. (1995a). Strategic Issues of Education and Employment in Egypt. Cairo: Al-Mishkat Center for Research and Training. *** UNICEF (2000). State of the World’s Children 2000. New York: UNICEF. World Bank (nd). Claiming the future. Choosing prosperity in the Middle East and North Africa. Washington, DC: The World Bank. **** Watkins, K. (1999). Education now: Break the cycle of poverty. London: OXFAM. ***** Ahmad Al Issa, Global English: Issues of Lnaguage Culture, and Identity in the Arab World, Journal of Educational Sciences, 2009

The need for further and broader educational reform in the Middle East is inextricably linked to continued economic and political reforms. Today’s students must be taught the technical skills that are needed to function effectively in tomorrow’s world. Moreover, they must be taught the problem solving, cooperation and critical thinking skills that are needed to build democracy and citizenship. Several countries in the Middle East are failing in granting educational access to all their social groups. They include the poorest countries in the region, as well as some of the richest****. The Middle East region is at a crossroads in its educational development. The region is characterized by inadequate research and development for knowledge creation and limited communications infrastructure. It accounts for only about one tenth of one per cent of the world’s research and development spending*. Since each country’s experiences, culture, and history are different, each country of the Middle East will have to devise its own plan for educational reform. No one model is likely to work everywhere. In its outcomes, the ‘Arab Human Development Report 2002’ warns that “Arab societies are being crippled by a lack of political freedom and isolation from the world of ideas that stifles creativity.” The report remarks that while oil income has transformed the landscapes of some Arab countries, the society remains “richer than it is developed.” Productivity is declining, research and development are weak or absent, science and technology are dormant. A risky result of this fact is the fleeing of intellectuals from this repressive political and social environment towards the free world of the west, where they can perform and erect better futures*****.

This next chapter covers some of the most famous design schools in the Middle East. The choice of the four cities is based on their geographical positions that are located on the ‘four corners’ of the Middle Eastern region. Cairo represents the North-African area, Doha corresponds to the Gulf, Tehran characterizes the Asian/ continental part, and Beirut represents the Levant/Mediterranean region. Although they are all member nations of the Middle East, they vary vastly in terms of political status and national history; therefore, they have their own cultural behaviours and social rules. While Beirut is quite a liberal city, as Cairo once was, cities such as Doha adhere strongly to their religious traditions. In the case of Tehran, there has been ongoing political turmoil since the revolution, and that has caused more development barriers when compared to the other three cities. Also, the variety provided through the study of these four societies might shed light on what is globally conceived as a ‘Middle Eastern city’. Moreover, these cities have recently been the most prominent with regards to design development, discourse and education in the media. Tehran owes a lot of its fame in graphic design to the contributions of ‘artists/designers’ such as Reza Abedini, who is one of the most known Arabic calligraphers in the world by now. Cairo has also enjoyed fame with its recent +20 design fair that has made headlines. The contributions that have succeeded to put Doha on the design map, are largely if not entirely affiliated with VCUQatar; Tasmeem, a biennal international design conference, offers a wide variety of workshops and international speakers. It is the first of its kind in the entire Middle East. Beirut, has also not been far behind, although it is the smallest of all four cities, it contains the largest number of design schools. A recent accomplishment for Lebanese product designers from ALBA (Academie Libanaise des Beaux Arts) was their participation in the internationally acclaimed Milan Furniture Fair 2010. They are the first group of design students from the Middle East to exhibit there. In the following pages, a general description of the design school, project samples from the courses, and interviews from students, graduates and instructors are presented. The research of some schools may be more detailed than others, that is due the availability of information as well as the willingness of the institution to cooperate. 26

chapter two:

design schools in the middle east cairo tehran doha beirut


Beirut 1890. FĂŠlix Bonfils


The German University Cairo, is currently the leading institution in design education in Cairo. Although I found some design courses in the American University of Cairo, there seemed to be no Bachelor degree programs in design. Therefore, this chapter concerning Cairo deals mostly with the product design department of GUC.

General Description

School: Faculty of Applied Sciences and Arts Founded 2006 Departments: Graphic Design Media Design Product Design Degrees: Bachelor in Graphic Design Bachelor in Media Design Bachelor in Product Design One year Pre-master in Product Design Courses within each department: unavailable Students and Staff: 130 students in total 50 Product Design students 7 Product Design Faculty members Private Ownership Tuition fees per semester: 35000 LE (â‚Ź5000, $6,150 USD)

32 some information provided by Prof. Dr. Anne Krefting, and Reham Mogawer

Photographer: Andreas Breilmann aka TrendyAndy

A project sample from GUC product design

“To raise awareness about their own culture and roots, the students were given the task of designing an object that expresses their idea of their culture in an abstract manner. By transferring an idea or a visual element from the Middle East into a sculptural piece of furniture, they contribute to the growing world of arabic product design.�

Horus reclining chair, Hadeel El-Raie The Motaka, Aicha Mansour Crabis Stool, Salma Mashhour Sphinx chair, Sarah Mohsen


Discussion with Prof. Dr. Anne Krefting Dean of Faculty of Applied Sciences and Arts Marwan Fayed Teaching Assistant in Product Design

On the 22nd of May 2010 at KISD (Koeln International School of Design) I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture by Prof. Dr. Anne Krefting, dean of the applied sciences and arts faculty of the German University of Cairo, and Marwan Fayed Teaching Assistant in the corresponding product design department. Prof. Krefting introduced GUC to the KISD, as a unique design school in the Arab world. Although the faculty of design is fairly young (four years old), It has been acquiring quite a reputation in the Middle Eastern design scene. Prof. Krefting explained that the faculty in the GUC design department, which are 50 percent German and 50 percent Egyptian, are trying to breach the gap between the understanding of design education from both worlds. Unlike Germany, as Egypt did not have the past 150 years of design tradition and history, it is a complicated challenge to accommodate and enrich the Egyptian culture and traditions by the education program, and hence the design environment. I will introduce Marwan Fayed’s presentation as it is of valid discourse to this thesis, and presents some aspects of Middle Eastern culture which will be discussed in the coming pages. He also introduced some important questions about the role of a designer in a context that is much relevant to the socio-political state of Middle Eastern cities. Marwan Fayed’s main area of concentration is research in architecture and urban space. He presented two of his projects in Cairo. One involved the scaping, mapping and layering of urban space in Cairo, specifically during prayer times on fridays. The other project involved a public intervention on a commercial street intersection in Cairo which was part of the recent +20 design fair. His research gave the mainly European students and professors an insight to Cairo as a city and a society. His methods of dynamic mapping, as a form of data collections helped the audience experience this culture through sound and image. He redefined identities as scapes, allowing the description of fluidity in urban spaces of Cairo within socio cultural interactions of its inhabitants. He stressed that the projects were not about answering questions, but TO question; and furthermore to filter design questions. An interesting culturally comparative phenomena he mentioned was about the concept of ‘borders’. While borders are strictly predefined lines in Western societies, they seem to be a lot more fluid within Middle Eastern or arab context. Instead of a strict defining line dividing two spaces, borders in Cairo are more of a virtual margin of two lines which could interchange according to the situation. Another interesting example he offered, was about time perception within the Egyptian society. In Cairo, when two people are arranging a meeting they would say perhaps , “I will meet you at the end of the day”. Unlike typical German sociological structures, where punctuality is a crucial part of discipline and respect, time is a flexible matter in Middle Eastern culture. Marwan adds that in Egypt “somehow it works!”. These two points concerning borders as well as time perception will be further discussed in the course of this thesis, it is still, however, reassuring that such self- reflective cultural aspects -no matter how cliche they may be- still hold true to a great extent. The final questions that he asked were: “How can a designer deal with his/her role in the sociopolitical sphere? As a mediator? as a translator?”. He revised the self reflective aspect of a designer in himself with his project ‘Detonator’, and reviewed the outcome of his role as a designer by creating a public intervention on a street in Cairo, within the context on a design fair organized by the Egyptian municipality of culture. In the aftermath of this project he set examples of what responses a designer would get in his culture. He described a shallow congratulatory response from fellow designers in the community, a sigh of pity from the authorities (the project was obviously destructed, hence the name ‘detonator’), and an underlying atmosphere of guilt from the local community who detonated the work. In my opinion, this brings forth a lot of questions and issues from a sociocultural perspective. As design is a newborn in such territory, how does it deal with and infiltrate such authoritative societies, and builds its bonds with the community? The answer can partly be derived from design education. This also means that design has to find its ‘common ground’ with other disciplines in order integrate

itself in society in a ‘down-top’ rather than ‘top-down’ manner. Such issues will be further developed in the coming chapters. When I asked Prof. Krefting and Mr. Fayed about how they are integrating all these social and cultural issues into the design education program, and if it could be identified in the students’ work, their reaction seemed hopeful yet uncertain. They reinstated that the department is still very new, and that it is trying to find its way in balancing the german systematic approach of design teaching with the Egyptian traditions, and if anything, it is still in its first phases of experimentation and gradual transition. When I asked about certain problems or cultural clashes that the staff might be experiencing within the faculty of GUC, Krefting modestly said that she refused to get into such cliche debates, as she is a foreigner in the country and understands that there are inevitable cultural differences between herself as a German Professor, and the Egyptian staff. However, she insisted that it was a matter of discussion and a process of communication; this proves to be the only method in understanding one another without prejudice and adds multidimensional variety to any given context.

A few days later Prof. Dr. Krefting, Mr. Fayed, and I met up for a more in-depth discussion about GUC. Both instructors had been working on a one week project with the KISD students and Fayed shared his views about the differences between the students in Cairo and those in Cologne. “They are so selforganized!” he exclaimed, referring to the KISD students. We discussed further the learning process of students in GUC. He explained that doubtlessly, the students in Cairo have their individual learning process, and have amazing creative skills that produce beautiful results; however, he admits that there is still some underlying frustration at the end of this process. I was not sure what he meant by this, so he vaguely mentioned that this frustration is related to higher expectations that are built on words and promises and that this holds true for both sides, the professors and the students... Prof. Krefting takes on the the matter at hand and expands further on the learning culture and organization in the design education system at GUC. She explains that it is first and foremost about developing a learning culture, and it is basically built from scratch since there is no design tradition in Egypt, or in the rest of the Middle East for that matter. Here Marwan affirms that the process even with the establishment of the design departments in GUC exemplifies a frequently observed module of buying a space, building a university, and then thinking about how the internal structure will work. This is perhaps another cultural aspect of an ‘outside to inside’ approach to problem solving. One way of getting design into the scene in Cairo is economics. Intentionally, the +20 design fair is a governmental plan, and the reason behind it is the fact that the Egyptian government has understood the importance of design in the economy. Therefore design is playing a role in the exports of the economy, this is the pragmatic reason behind the government’s involvement. “ I am often told that the design department is considered as the “flower” of GUC, this is not about gardening! It’s about economy!” says Prof. Krefting humorously. She continues to state that design should develop theory for economic purpose. However as I inquired about manufacturing opportunities in Cairo, this seemed to be even another barrier. She claimed that there are some marginal resources for manufacturing such as the family business oriented manufacturing factory which is part of GUC. Nonetheless, they both did not deny that there are still some gaps to be filled with regards to the education of the university and the production of the products designed. Moving on to a project that Prof. Krefting and Fayed are working on in Cairo at the moment; it revolves around forming design and craft clusters. The students are asked to get engaged with social sciences, design planning, and public design to create a network between themselves as designers and craftsmen in Cairo. This is not about drawing lines between design and crafts it is about reinstating each discipline’s role in society, and working together to create better communication for themselves and the consumers. Also on a deeper note, Prof. Krefting expressed that this holding on the traditions that stem from craftsmanship, which the students refer to as cultural visual identity is somewhat naive. So perhaps their cooperations with the craftsmen as strategists and thinkers in society could help them understand better how to implement their cultural identity in their work. In this scenario the designer becomes the medium. “We are trying to help craftsmen develop their traditional ways of doing things and making use of their resources” says Prof. Krefting. This relocation of positions between designers and craftsmen is creating a dialogue which not only benefits them individually, but also redefines their roles in the society.


This is interesting as some designers even in Europe nowadays are trying to get crafts back in business, by creating a collaborative network by helping each other. It is no longer a matter of competition, (which has been the case to some extent since the Bauhaus) but understanding the ways in which crafts and design can be complementary.

Interview with Salma Mashhour, a GUC product design student.

“... in the Middle East we are still designing to satisfy basic NEEDS” Salma Mashhou’s FLY+ as part of ‘Intelligent Mobility Service’ project 2008/2009

1. From your perspective, how would you rate your design education in GUC when comparing it to other universities in the Middle East (Beirut, Qatar, Tehran...) and Egypt? Although we’re all in the Middle East it does differ. When Cairo is concerned , i personally think its much richer in its culture and history its has better inspirations and broader creativity. As for the education, i think other countries would be better in the working atmosphere, and teachers degrees. 2. How would you rate yourself as a design student, compared to design students in Europe? We are not by any means comparable!! Because in the Middle East we are still designing to satisfy basic NEEDS In europe you are designing aesthetics, practicality and sustainability. (LOOKS) 3. Do you think you are receiving the same level of education in the GUC as you would in a German design school in Germany? Do you think this makes a difference? Is there anything you would like to change about your education in GUC? Every country should receive the level that fits its society. It might be that we receive less, and of course it makes a difference, but at the same time it makes no sense for example if we learn transportation design like how to make flying chairs, when most of us (egyptians) cant read or write!! we’re in need for public design, culture design, sustainable and cheap projects that locals themselves can produce... 4. What special qualities does being a designer in Cairo have, when compared to the rest of the world? Well, you will just have to come visit and disc over for yourself! 5. Are you planning on pursuing a graduate degree? For now GUC is starting a one year PRE master courses which are aimed st enhancing our skills in writing and researching. We are also taking two other courses: The first is a course, where we have to deal with Egyptian companies, to know how they work and produce goods. The second is an elective course between media or graphics. I chose media. So after this one year program I’ll either continue my studies here, or it still depends on what subject I will work on as a thesis.

Interview with Reham Mogawer, a GUC product design student.

“... if I were in the admins place I would rather focus on the mind development more than pushing people to come and attend or else they will fail the course...”

1. From your perspective, how would you rate your design education in German Univeristy of Cairo when comparing it to other universities in the Middle East (Beirut, Qatar, Tehran...) and Egypt? Compared to other universities in the Middle East I guess we are above the average or we could maybe be defiantly better. I have to admit something interesting for me, we are struggling more to reach what we want from the quality of education but this is also another experience we are taking here I guess. 2. How would you rate yourself as a design student, compared to design students in Europe? I was lucky enough to have the chance to work with European designers in an internship in design communication in Osnabruck -Germany, and I didn’t really feel any difference because we were exchanging ideas smoothly and productively. So I would rate myself to be similar to any design student in Europe. 3. Do you think you are receiving the same level of education in the German University of Cairo as you would in a German design school in Germany? Do you think this makes a difference? Is there anything you would like to change about your education in GUC?


I think the support one gets from the equipments and tools in a German design school will be of better aid to the students but from the general mood, academic support, it is sufficient, very cooperative and supportive. Studying in German design school will make a difference not only from the tools support but from the whole design experience you can acquire from the different environment you are experiencing. What I would change in my GUC education is the systematic system that burdens us, and ruins the design mood, like a kind of primary school... 4.One thing you said was very interesting, you said that the system in GUC was too “systematic” like primary school... can you tell me more about that, or maybe give me an example? What I mean by systematic GUC, is that they are concerned with something like attendance, grades, ranking, while the real aim of a design school is creating a world of freedom, where the limit of the student is only the sky. In other words, if I were in the admins place I would rather focus on the mind development more than pushing people to come and attend or else they will fail the course. A university student should come only because he wants to and he is doing that with a spirit of devotion and enthusiasm. 5.What special qualities does being a designer in Cairo have, when compared to the rest of the world?

Reham Mogawer’s SWIVEL as part of ‘Intelligent Mobility Service’ project 2008/2009

Being a designer in Cairo is an advantage. You learn to deal with what you are given and get the impossible missions done. The challenges of creating new concepts has always been existent yet we have more problems and a wider range of products that can be manufactured to meet the needs of the Egyptian people. We have different visions, and I have experienced that widely when merging the European ideas with the Egyptian ones and it was quite interesting and comprehensive because in the end the world is getting smaller and closer and people are getting together. The necessity of mixing minds from different cultures is a new window to greater creations. 6. Can you tell me a bit more about the courses you take in the product design department? I understand that there isn’t a set program but instead people follow a blackboard to know which course they have to take. Is this true? The reason of the note board is that many student claim that their university account is either locked, which sometimes really happens but not much, so professors cut this short by adding notes on the doors and that big board we have. We have a system that our subjects are submitted to over there. I have seen that book from the curriculum before, the real disadvantage that we have is that we are a new faculty that is settling up, but it is getting better. At the same time I see it as an advantage to be the only product design specialized school in Egypt. Life has always its pros and cons. What I know is that the product design department is the most stable department; as for the professors,

as we are facing that a problem because of coming and then leaving quickly. I guess that is because they don’t really feel okay with Egyptian-German system that we have. The other reason is that the more they change the more they gain experience, especially while they are young. The other departments are struggling a bit with shortage in professors. I am in my eight semester doing my bachelors project now. I still have one more year just to add some courses that will make my certificate equivalent to the Egyptian one. In the mean time, this year the GUC added some courses for the premasters. The first two years we take them as foundation; we take the basics in every department such as : media , graphic, and product design that strengthens our background. Starting without he fifth semester we start the majoring. In product design I have taken, furniture design, CAD 1, Transformation design, Theory, Material design., wood workshop.. etc altogether with two other courses. Reaching the 6th semester, i have taken exhbition design, surface design, lighting systems, theory again, media theory, Cad 2... In the 7th semester, I continued with Cad 3, Marketing, Theory, Seminar, Public design, Mobility design... The 8th semester is the bachelor project. In the 9th and 10th semester we take courses from the premasters some from the majoring and others from minor departments: either graphic or media. Add to these courses four german courses and four to five english courses depending on your level.

Interview with Salma Adel, a GUC product design student.

“ students in Germany start university at an older age, thus they should have more knowledge or more background than design students in Egypt who start much younger.”

1.From your perspective, how would you rate your design education in GUC when comparing it to other universities in the Middle East (Beirut, Qatar, Tehran...) and Egypt? In my opinion it’s one of the best design Universities in Egypt considering it was just founded a few years back and I believe it has a lot of potential to become even better. 2.How would you rate yourself as a design student, compared to design students in Europe? Do you see any cultural barriers? Or less/more opportunities? It’s the same I guess, but the only thing that differs is the resources available, therefore leaving Egypt at a disadvantage. In addition, design students in Germany start university at an older age, thus they should have more knowledge or more background than design students in Egypt who start much younger. Regarding the cultural barriers, i don’t think so. But for the opportunities i think it makes a difference as here in Egypt design is not a big thing therefore it’s not put into consideration as much as it is in Europe. 3. Do you think you are receiving the same level of education in the GUC as you would in a German design school in Germany? Do you think this makes a difference? Is there anything you would like to change about your education in GUC? The Education is quite the same, but it was amended to suit the Egyptian educational system so there wouldn’t be too much of a clash. Some of the people might not be as ambitious about learning therefore it might affect the education in a way and of course it changes the whole competitive and challenging atmosphere. 4. What special qualities does being a designer in Cairo have, when compared to the rest of the world? Egypt has more of a heads up, and a lot of different inspirations to discover. 5. As a female designer in Cairo, do you face any social issues that you would like to share? No, not at all.


Salma Adel’s MANTIS as part of ‘The Moving Image’ project 2009 brief: reconsider the way we deal with multimedia “on the run”, and develop product- and design-concepts based on the results of a brief research and experience workshop.

Interview with Till Beutling, a graduating student at KISD, who spent a week with the design students in GUC and conducted a worshop on gendered spaces.

After Till was back from Cairo, I arranged a meeting with him to discuss his impressions while working with the GUC students. This was important for my study, as I was interested on how a European person would interpret the cultural differences in a design education system.

“Design is still considered a ‘girly’ thing to do in Egypt”

With regards to the general level in design thinking and creativity, Till noticed no major differences between the students in Cairo and the students in KISD. He approached them with his projects, and was surprised to realize that they all knew quite a few famous German designers, and we well up-to-date with global design discourse. In fact he stated that he was even more shocked to realize how young they were in comparison, and yet so mature. “The majority of the students were between 19 and 20 years old, the oldest one I met was 25!”, exclaimed Till. He also added that he was quite impressed as to how the students were not ‘profession bound’, although the departments are skill specific (graphic design, media design, product design) the students were very open-minded and were able to conceptualize in an interdisciplinary manner, he compared this scenario to his experience in Honk Kong, where the design students were heavily skill-oriented. His research in Cairo which revolved around gender issues in society was quite a culturally challenging endeavor for him, he felt that he should always be careful with his words and behaviors, especially since all the students who joined his project were female. He also stated that the majority of students were female. Although he was told by his German professor that the reason behind this social phenomenon is the fact that the male students are sent abroad, when he inquired he received a different response. “Design is still considered a ‘girly’ thing to do in Egypt”(associated with house decorating, embroidery, painting...), he conveyed. However, he was also informed that even though all of these girls are acquiring high standard education, most of them will probably never work in the field. Apparently, obtaining a university degree was something of an ‘upgrade’ in status, and this would lead to marriage possibilities. Till added that not all the girls there are like that, but most do think about getting married as a priority that comes before a career. Moreover, most of the students who can afford a design education at GUC come from wealthy families and have not experienced the need for a job to provide for themselves. When I asked Till if he would ever consider studying in GUC, he was quite hesitant. Although Cairo is a very inspiring city, in his opinion; he worried that the system would be too chaotic and unorganized for him. Even the courses and the entire structure seemed out of control and confusing for Till. He also believed that the instructors in GUC were far too young and inexperienced, since he was used to much older and accomplished professors at the KISD. He also could not imagine paying about one thousand Euros a month for a education, he couldn’t even think how he could make that much money as a student! Finally I asked him if he encountered any cultural clashes during his visit. In general, there was no major conflict, as Till had made sure to respect the Egyptian traditions and not impose any of his ‘foreign’ ways. With the exception of one incident which caused a bit of argumentative strife when Till criticized the role of male power in society. He claimed Cairo represented a repressive patriarchal society, and a male professor in GUC was outraged and insisted that Till commit to more research before making such accusations.


Due to Limited resources as well as language barriers, little information could be gathered about design education in Tehran. As my trials to reach universities and design networks were unsuccessful, I conducted my limited research through interviews by two Iranian designers. These interviews, presented in the cooming pages, may help in describing the general scope of design education in Tehran.

General Description School: College of Fine Arts

Departments: Architecture Visual Arts Visual Communication Industrial Design Degrees: Bachelor in Architecture Bachelor in Visual Communication Bachelor in Industrial Design Courses within each department: unavailable Students and Staff: Visual Communication Department 25- 30 students enrolled per year 10 faculty members Public Ownership Tuition fees per semester: None

44 some information provided by Golnar Rahmani

Photographer: Golnar Rahmani

Interview with Golnar Rahmani, a Tehran Uni. Arts graphic design graduate. I interviewed Golnar who studied graphic design in the University of Arts in Tehran; she is currently pursuing her masters degree in visual communication in Berlin. She informed me that there are many Universities that have an art/design program in Tehran like Tehran University (faculty of fine arts), Azad (frei) university (faculty of fine arts), Sooreh university (faculty of fine arts), Shahed university.(faculty of fine arts)..

Golnar’s graphic design projects at Tehran Arts University

When I asked her what she was currently working on in her Master course, she told me that she is looking through some new design ideas for interfaces through famous newspapers in the US, Europe, the middle East and the Far east and that she was comparing the printed versions and the online ones. Her research as she explains is not as important as the skill of the aesthetics, ‘the creation of the new design’. When asked about her perception on how different she felt in her design work and thinking when compared to other students, since she came from a different background, Golnar says: “ I think that the subjects are mostly different [when I compare Iranian design education to German teaching] , yet the way of thinking is not so far.” I asked her for some examples on the matter and she continued that in Germany she has many interface and website related projects that are recent and up to date and useful in daily practice, but that wasn’t the case in Tehran. I then asked her if it was different in Tehran University and she said : “the way of living here [Berlin] is very different of what the people live in Tehran because the professors, the society, and the way of living is very different”. She added that the projects subjects depended on the courses, which were usually obligatory. She continued to say that there isn’t a very strong relationship between art and the society in Tehran and unlike Berlin the projects that students work on are not used by factories and museums. The good concepts arising from young fresh minds is not appreciated in Tehran like Berlin. I went back to a point she had mentioned about how her project choice was obligatory and I was interested to know as to why it was the case. Was it political? Was it because in Tehran they did not care about art enough to make a new and slightly more developed program or maybe it was financial. Her response was the following: “ No, it is not political, but there lacks a competent design body to take action and to change the courses frequently“. According to Golnar, she believes that if a design school like the one she is attending in Germany opened in Tehran it would definitely be successful because there are numerous art universities but ‘they are working with old equipment and old methods which is a shame because the students there have very high potential’. I noticed that she often spoke of design as art, and designers as artists, so I asked her why these terms keep on interchanging in her dialogue. She claimed that design and art are not separated in Tehran yet, and that it is ‘the role of the professors to suggest to students to continue in a certain direction’. In her case, the courses of graphic design covered the fundamentals of graphic design such as aesthetics of art works, typography, calligraphy, poster design, logo design, layouts, packaging.. The projects are sometimes concentrated around local places and events such as making a logo for a company or a museum in Tehran... Finally, when I asked Golnar if she had any difficulty adjusting to Germany and whether her adequacy of work was alright compared to the others, she explained that everything from the curriculum to the weather was different but her work wasn’t bad compared to the rest. She, on the other hand, told me she chose more serious subjects to work on in university since she had the freedom to focus on typography rather than illustration, which apparently is more popular in her current class.


1. Can you briefly explain your education in industrial design in Tehran? (which university, a general idea of the courses and the projects...) We have 6 Universities in Tehran that offer industrial design education:

Interview with Hamed Kohan, an industrial design graduate student in Polytechnic University of Tehran. His MS topics are: Study of Interactivity Aspects of Myth Design & Design of Kitchenware Based on Persian Myths

Polytechnic University of Tehran (MS) Art University of Tehran (BA) & (MA) Tehran University - Fine Arts (BA) & (MA) Alzahra University of Tehran (BA) & (MA) Science & Technology University of Tehran (BA) & (MA) Azad University of Tehran (BA) & (MA) There are similar courses in these university but we saw different approaches just because the university atmospheres and different professors! for example in Polytechnic we have more technical-based atmosphere and solution is in center but in Art university The Art, Aesthetic and Style is prior. Student are free to choose their project subjects and I think They are in step by all design students over the world ! They think and act local and global, They design future concepts, and they design for currently needs! But our Industries are weak to use their potential. 2. Can you estimate the level of education offered there when compared to Europe and USA? It is just based on who educates which course... We have someone who is expert in design education, but because of adolescence of ID in Iran we have poverty in educational system... I think all of Design PhD persons in these universities are 6 or 7 !!! If I estimate design education level in Iran by comparison to Europe, I give 6 of 10. It is not so bad. And by USA, 5 of 10. These scores are because of shortage of design lab equipments, design resource, public awareness and ... 3. What are the advantages/disadvantages (cultural, social, historical, political...) of studying design in Iran? Advantage: Persians are Crazy, Creative and Curious ! and it is Interesting to communicate with them.They are Hospitable! There are so many topics for design challenging in life path of Persians! and for a design student there is no poverty for choosing a creative subject to work on. And some organization are eager to find someone with originative mind. Iran is wealthy Country in Cultural and Historical heritage, and there are very protected locations in Iran that need designers to design them experienceable and joyfully. Being 5th country by Cultural heritages and 10th country by Natural places are evidence for this potential. Disadvantage: There are some restriction applied by government as like as veil that narrow the freedom in Iran. Because of Prohibitions in Iran, There are some other problems. 4. What would you like to change about your design education in Tehran? Of course Course at first ! It can be updated and localized. 2nd Increase International Communications 3rd Increase University - Industry Co-operation 5. Would you be interested in working with other designers from the Middle East? Do you think this is beneficial? Working in a team is beneficial naturally, and if there were opportunities to work with some others by different beliefs, languages and lifestyles, it is amazing!


VCUQatar is the only design education program in Doha and Qatar.

General Description

School: Virginia Commonwealth University Arts Founded 1998 Departments: Graphic Design Fashion Design Interior Design Degrees: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design Master of Fine Arts in design Studies Courses within each department: available in the Appendix Students and Staff: 225 students in total 120 staff members in total 12 Graphic Design Faculty members 11 Fashion Design Faculty members 9 Interior Design Faculty members 2 Master design studies Faculty members Private Ownership Tuition fees per semester: QR 33,917 (â‚Ź8000, $10,000USD)


Christina Lindholm Dean at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUQ) in 2004

“ We only have to be on our guard not to offend the people in Qatar with a too casual, American way of behaving.”

The VCUQ is a University in Qatar that prepares the students to acquire design as their profession. According to Lindholm the students might not be fully aware of what they are entering into but they have an idea of the profession and what the university teaches and most importantly, they know that they want a profession that is creative . The school teaches them to use design to complement the region they live in and to develop the culture and language that they have been raised with and to communicate with their people by using this means rather than subsiding to the ‘Western’ way of doing things. To Lindholm this has much importance, for in this way the students can convey their own personal abilities and talents and as she puts it ‘’ their fantasies that can unfold in their own ways’’. The first year is a foundation year just like any other art university; it tackles color theory, perspective, drawing, twodimensional design, three-dimensional design, conceptual theory … Still, after completing the first year the students might not have a clear idea of what design is but starting the second year and until they graduate that changes as they acquire the skill and expertise to be skillful designers. The second year is where the students decide what to major in whether fashion or graphic or interior design. All in all there are shared courses between the majors but the programs to a certain major are very specific. This is a challenge because the industrial design branch does not exist and Qatar used to be a poor barren country before the discovery of oil. It was a country that based itself on agriculture and breeding of livestock and fishing and all of a sudden this boom shifted the lifestyle completely. When asked if it is difficult to concentrate largely on method and put aside one’s own cultural background since most of the teachers are American she replies : ‘ At the VCUQ, like at universities in USA, a great deal relies on process. What’s greatly emphasized here is the process in itself – almost more than the product. ‘


Since most of the staff members are from the the USA, they are prepared with discussions, advice, they are teamed up with colleagues who have already been at the University for a while and they are also given a two week orientation program to get used to how things are different in Qatar from the US. The new teachers also receive books and helpful magazines and during the discussions they are informed of the customs in Qatar such as the attire and the non flamboyant nature that might be a bit strong to a reserved society. she says: ‘ We only have to be on our guard not to offend the people in Qatar with a too casual, American way of behaving.’ One of the goals is to employ local professionals to teach, maybe even have the graduates to teach at VCUQ. In order for the graduates to do so they need to have worked professionally in the field before they can be instructors. That would, most probably, necessitate them to travel abroad since the design opportunities are at their minimum in Qatar. ‘The great advantage being that they already know the educational system at the VCUQ, and that, through their continued education and professional experience, they can bring something new and lively to the teaching experience’. Finally, one asks the obvious question, whether the traditional role of women hinders them from continuing a career as a professional designer. Christina Lindholms affirms that if a woman were to pursue a career she would get far; some even started their own firms and agencies. Yet most of the women gut married at a young age and have children and do not find it necessary to work since they are not under financial pressure since the husband usually takes care of the family. ‘Alongside managing the study program, we try to make Doha an attractive business location for companies that offer or need services in the area of design, and for whom our graduates might work or receive further training. What we’ve done here, for example, is arrange for a branch of Fitch International, a large concern for advertising and marketing, to be located in a office on the grounds of the VCUQ and work together with our graduates for the 2006 Asian Games held in Doha. That’s really exciting. Normally, students never have the chance to participate in a project on such a grand scale no sooner they graduate’ Nafas Art Magazine, september 2004, Christina Lindholm, Interview By Haupt & Binder

Richard E. Toscan Dean at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Richmond/VA (USA) in 2004

‘ We concentrated on conveying an American approach in the creative design process, and on how to avoid, in a nonhierarchical manner ... and under these method-oriented conditions, the students should develop a design sense that corresponds with their own culture and social values, and with all the other aspects, thus making it function in the Arab world.’ The VCUQ started out with the Qatarians publishing a report on the rankings of American Art schools and noticed they had ranked well. They decided that they wanted an American-style art school so they visited the US in 1997. Reversely, the Americans visited Qatar and its grade/secondary schools so see the type of situation they were going to be handling and in turn visited her Royal Highness. The idea of having a program dedicated only to women intrigued Richard Toscan and Her Royal Highness, Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned loved the idea of making it possible for young women to have a quality that they didn’t share with men. Without the woman/man competition the women would heighten the chances for a new economic branch of design in Qatar. The program did not want to copy an American University and place it in Qatar because the women had to be able to use their skills to aid the Arab world. ‘ We concentrated on conveying an American approach in the creative design process, and on how to avoid, in a non-hierarchical manner, becoming pigeonholed when dealing with design jobs. And under these method-oriented conditions, the students should develop a design sense that corresponds with their own culture and social values, and with all the other aspects, thus making it function in the Arab world.’ With such a program that believes in the conservation of culture there was a new notion that Toscan hadn’t accounted for or even thought of as a design instructor. The teaching of design could have a strong political implication whereby the american instructors try to make ‘a great effort to convey a sense of nonhierarchical thought when solving problems’. Nevertheless, the VCUQ is satisfied with its first class of graduates and two classes of graduates have finished their studies. As far as satisfaction goes the VCUQ id believed to have a quality that similiar to the best works found in the other American UNivesities such as the university of Richmond, Virginia. There could even be the chnace that Qatar’s works in some ways are better than the ones made in Richmond since one project one the VCU competition in INterior design from Qatar; the colleagues in Richmond have grea pride and amazement as Toscan says. With such satisfaction and pride from the American colleagues to this Arab city there is in fact some significant developments when it comes to breaking down prejudices between the Islamic World and the USA notably after September 11. Toscan says: “ The State

Department made it known to us that they see our project here as being very important – as a way of showing a different side of America.” He also mentions the students know that these two worlds are different and that they understand that; the teaching staff has always felt welcome and were never “grouped together with America’s current problems with the world.” The staff does not involve in any political or social matters of the country they only focus on the teaching. Toscan believes that these graduates will have a big impact on qatar sinc they are the daughters of local desicion makers . he adds that according to the parents the system at VCUQ changed their daughters into more ambitious and articulate women able to converse at a more mature level than ever before and that was different from the state run institution who spent their free time at the shopping malls while the VCUQ toiled at night in hard work. The difference in the program was that the students of the state run institution did most of the work at school and the VCUQ had work also outside school. The fathers of these students admire the progress and praise their kids and their qualities. The VCUQ does not want to overpopulate the school they do not want more than 200 students and already they have 150 which is a very appropriate size considering the size f the country. Alongside making VCUQ bigger the team is working on building a design industry for hte arab world in Qatar and the highlight of this will be the campaign for the Asian Games 2006 in partnership with Fitch International. With the Qatar Foundation, the VCUQ is discussing new programs, possibly in the areas of museum and curatorial studies, among other things, because of the many new museums that are emerging in Qatar Finally Toscan speaks of the exhibition that joins the Arab world with the USA and other countries he mentions : “In this way, the students see examples of creativity from their own culture. We make an enormous effort to explore the meaning of design in the Arab world, which was so vital centuries ago and then lost, or whose splendor was so absorbed by the culture of daily life that it could no longer be recognized as design. Our school greatly stresses the honoring of Arabic influences in design and making them visible, so that traditional styles can be better embraced and better adapted to our present-day requirements and needs.”

Nafas Art Magazine, september 2004, Richard E. Toscan, Interview, Interview By Haupt & Binder

Diane Mikhael Minassian is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design in VCUQatar. She is Lebanese, holds a BA in Graphic Design from Notre Dame University in Lebanon, and an MA from london College of communication

1. You’ve taught graphic design in NDU and now VCU, do you notice any major differences in the curriculum and learning methodologies? What are certain aspects of each that you find most beneficial for students? From a holistic view, both programs at VCUQatar and NDU are leading creativity and innovations, each within its relative culture. Both programs are competent in the regions and prepare students to be professionals and critical thinkers in their field. I really enjoyed my twelve years of teaching at NDU and currently loving my research and teaching experience at VCUQatar for the last 2 years till now. I have witnessed over the 14 years of teaching many changes of the design curricula, and I was one of the team who investigated and wrote the core contents of some design programs. Based on these premises, my answers will not be based on a comparative methods between the two institutions but rather on my personal reflections on what I have experienced here and there that shape my vision on design in the Arab region. (My advice: do not generalize when you say NDU and VCUQ, but be specific and define department/faculty at NDU and VCUQ, because in my opinion, although each faculty/department is linked to the University Mission and Vision, each has also its own vision, methodology and curricula application. So let us talk about Graphic design department at NDU and VCUQ, Ok?) NEW EXPERIENCES AT VCUQATAR a:: VCUQatar is a “center of education and research.” Therefore as a faculty member I was involved, since my arrival, with teaching


and with valuable research activities. Research is a crucial component when being Assistant Professor. As a design educator and researcher I have to find the thread to bridge the finding of my research end embed them in education. I am really enjoying this part. b::The Graphic Design Curriculum at VCUQatar is based on Theory courses as well as Studio based courses. I really appreciate this structure of courses because students will have the opportunity to learn in DEPTH some theories in design and bring them a unique knowledge that prepares them to be critical thinkers. c:: Text books are mandatory and not optional in each course. d:: generous supports (financially and morally) for any activity that promises a knowledge and brings new input to the curriculum. Several workshops and charrettes are taking part in many design courses with no constraints for any materials needed that help the learning to happen. e:: Collaboration in teaching: most of the Graphic Design courses at VCUQatar are co-tought by two instructors. This experience of collaborative teaching enriches the channels of message delivery, instructors learn from each other, and students also learn from both instructors. f:: VCUQatar is highly “culturally sensitive”. The Graphic

These three interviews presented are from instructors who experienced design education in Notre Dame University in Lebanon, and then in VCU qatar. There experiences are somewhat comparative between both education programs. NDU will be discussed more in depth in the chapter concerning Beirut.

“VCUQatar is highly “culturally sensitive”. The Graphic Design department is spotting the relation of design and culture and vice versa. As part of the curriculum, the program prepares the students to learn how to interact with their culture, and respond to its need. One of the approaches is to integrate Arabic and Latin as a core solution to their design project brief.”

Design department is spotting the relation of design and culture and vice versa. As part of the curriculum, the program prepares the students to learn how to interact with their culture, and respond to its need. One of the approaches is to integrate Arabic and Latin as a core solution to their design project brief. The program fosters also a cultural climate outside Qatar. The department organizes Field Study Trip (s) with the students worldwide. The aim is to encourage the students to discover other culture, analyze and define its negative and positive connotations, and learn from it. Students at this point will value more their culture, and by stretching their mind, they know more how to respond positively to their own environment. I like this experience so much! I see it very efficient! 2. What changes would you like to be made to design education in NDU and VCU? - When I say new experience in the above text, this means I did not have the chance to experience them elsewhere. - Graphic Design Department at VCUQ is focusing now in depth on Arabic design as part of its curriculum. 3. There has been some discourse about VCU’s program being “American” and the courses taught not “culturally sensitive”. Any comments? I think I have already answered to this question. 4. Do think there are socio-cultural aspects of Qatari life

that affect the students’ output in any way? Is there a noticeable difference between that environment and the Lebanese environment in the classrooms/studios? I like this question. And I like how each culture will look at this type of subject in a positive way. Qatari people are very attached to their culture and traditions. They respect and protect what they have. Therefore any subject that you might find expressed directly in other culture, you can always find it expressed in Qatari’s culture but in a way they want to see it not the way we want to see it. I really appreciate the way they think pertaining this subject. In my opinion, the freedom of expression is not the way we want people to see it but the way people see it and make it. I learned this only when I lived there. I did not have a clear understanding of this subject before. 5. Is there a somewhat female to male ratio in the design students? There are more females than males in the design studios. 6. If your students were to be compared to design students in the US and Europe, how would you assess their level of design education? Highly Competent.

In the book Design Studies, Peter Martin, a former professor at VCUQatar, wrote a critical paper about the challenges that Qatar is facing with its design education and its culture.

In a simplified view, Qatar is using its tremendous wealth from oil and natural gas to “purchase” buildings, events, and institutions from abroad and bring them home to “take out of the box”, setting them down on a rocky desert peninsula extending off the east side of Saudi Arabia into the Persian Gulf… There seems to be a habit of looking abroad, mainly to Europe and North America to see what can be added to qatar. ...there are no signs of Qatar having begun to develop its own resources for the cultural and educational programming..

A less obvious example of Qatar importing something without carefully adapting it to fit its cultural context is the university where I teach. We can only praise Qatar’s investment to develop its first design education program. Their commitment to high quality is apparent in their seeking an “American” university degree program. However, the establishment of this design college in Doha was approached with the buy-an-American-university-degree-program-bring-it-home-take-it-out-of-thebox-and-plug-it-in mentality. The main objective was to have “on site” an American design curriculum taught by instructors from this American university. The result is the teaching of an American design program based upon Bauhaus and postmodern philosophies within an Arabic-islamic culture. -Peter Martin

Design Studies: Theory and Research in Graphic Design, Audrey Bennett, Princeton Architectural Press, New York. Chapter 17, A Step Ahead of Praxis: The Role of Design Problem Definition in Cultural Ownership of Design, Peter Martin, p.256-258


Interview with Kristyan Sarkis, a Lebanese graphic designer who taught in VCUQatar for a term. 1. So you studied graphic design in NDU, then you taught at VCU. In what ways did YOU feel the study program was different? I can’t tell you much about this, I wasn’t informed of all their curriculum, but I had the feeling that their program is a lot more specific than the one that used to be in NDU. I mean the course I taught was completely about Arabic type design, whereas only one project within a TYPOGRAPHY course in NDU was converned with Arabic type design, it was not even a type design course. 2. What courses did u teach? I taught a course entitled “Design in Context” divided into two parts. My part was strictly about Arabic type design where the students are requested to design the basic characters of an arabic typeface (drawn on illustrator of course) throughout the whole semester. 3. To what extent is research encouraged in VCU? Do the students know about different research methodologies for the designers? I honestly have no idea about this. But I’m not so sure they encourage research a lot. 5. You are currently doing you masters in Type design in Den Haag. What would u like to integrate from your course there to the NDU and VCU programs? Well, a lot of things. Excessive lectures about the history of art, design, graphic design, type design. I would also add (to a type design course, if any) lots of calligraphy practice. Be it latin or arabic. More sketching. More drawing by hand. More understanding of the type history and its chronological development. And I would look for ways to integrate the students in the world of graphic and type design nowadays. Let them know who is doing what and how they are doing it.

Interview with Roula El Khoury, a Lebanese graphic designer who taught in VCUQatar for a term. You taught graphic design courses in VCU qatar. What are some differences in the education system there, when you compare it to Lebanon? Any cultural barriers? There are no major differences in the education system itself but definitely some cultural barriers. In Qatar, I was so shocked on so many levels... the first thing I saw on my very first day was a young Qatari lady getting out of her X5 BMW, with a driver of course, and then a young girl hurried out to hold her hand and put the laptop and her purse on her shoulders. To what extent do you think that the degree these students will obtain in design, will you used to launch their careers? Well to be honest, they are hard workers and they manage to come to great design concepts (some of them) but they all know that they can’t work. And there are generally two reaons for that. The first reason is that in Qatar they don’t trust qatari workers, they think they are too lazy to work. So they rather emplpy foreigners. The second reason is that, as the majority of students are women, they are bound to get married as soon as they graduate. Most of my students were already engaged.

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There are about a dozen universities in Lebanon that offer design education, with varying standards. Architecture is usually within the same faculty as design. Due to the lack of industrial infrastructure in the country, most design education programs are based on graphic design. This section deals with the top four design schools in Beirut, even though the fourth university is actually located just outside the city.

General Description

School: Faculty of Enginnering and Architecture Departments: Graphic Design, founded 1992 Architecture, founded 1966 Urban Design, founded 1998 Degrees: Bachelor in Graphic Design 139 credits - 4 years Bachelor of Architecture 174 credits - 5 years Master of Urban Planning and Policy 30 credits - 2 years Master of Urban Design 30 credits - 2 years Courses within each department: available in the Appendix Students (2010): Number of students in total: 258 Undergraduate enrollment Architecture total 135 1st year: 37 2nd year: 32 3rd year: 26 4th year: 21 5th year: 19

Where does the name ‘American’ university come from? “Well, you could almost call it a brand name – but a brand not actually owned by anyone. I call it a brand name since in the Middle East there have existed (and still do) two famous American universities – one in Cairo and another in Beirut. The Beirut institution, founded in 1866 as a Syrian protestant college, has been in existence for more than 140 years. The universities in Cairo and Beirut have so great a reputation among the Arabs, and among Gulfbased Arabs in particular, because in the past no other universities existed here, nor in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar or anywhere else. The majority of gifted students, largely male students, were sent to either AUB or AUC.” - Martin Giesen

Graphic Design total 106 1st year: 29 2nd year: 24 3rd year: 30 4th year: 23 Graduate student enrollment total: 17 Urban Design: 10 Urban Planning & Policy: 7 Staff: Number of faculty members in total: 48 Number of full-time faculty members: 11 Private Ownership Tuition fees per semester: $5,000 - $6,500 USD


Nafas Art Magazine, september 2004, Dr. Marin Giesen, Dean of American University of Sgarjah, Interview By Haupt & Binder

Interview with Dima Boulad, an AUB graphic design graduate.

“AUB taught me to be really meticulous about my projects, research well before I start, and to sketch out everything before opening a blank document on Illustrator. I was also taught to be very critical of my environment and about my project.” 1. You studied graphic design in AUB, and then you continued your graduate degree in Paris. What degree was it? I went to paris to have a degree in Multimedia, the degree was called “Chef de Projet Multimédia” at I.E.S.A. Basically it was a program that was divided in different modules: Documentary writing, video editing, postproduction & then web design and web development. At the end of my years in AUB, I had seen that some of my best projects were in animation and film, and not in print, that’s why I knew I had to pursue that. 2. How would you compare your education in AUB, or perhaps your level of education, compared to the other students who joined your course in Paris? AUB has a great graphic design program, and I discovered that once I got to Paris. The baggage we had already with us (we were three Lebanese girls that went from AUB to IESA) was valuable. One of the strongest points was the conceptual part that was the start of any project, and a way to ensure it being a good project. Because you can always cover the technical aspects of things later, or even get some help in doing it properly. AUB also sent me off with the experimental aspect of things, trying to do stuff by hand and considering the computer as a tool, trying out different techniques and approaches.And also, AUB taught me to be really meticulous about my projects, research well before I start, to sketch out everything and not start by opening a blank document on illustrator, to be very critical of my environment and about my project. I guess we were just trained that way because teachers were pretty harsh and demanding, but so good at design ! You end up being yourself ! 3. What would you choose to integrate (from what you learned in Paris) to the design course in AUB? Where do you think your education in Lebanon lacks, that you had to go abroad to get it?


My education at AUB lacked everything technically advanced in multimedia. We were very briefly introduced to animation techniques and the world of the web, and didn’t go far in the details of how to be great technically at that. So in a way, my education in Paris focused on a lot of technical aspects, and that helped me complement my education at AUB. I don’t know about other universities in Lebanon, but I know that the level of multimedia and all the new media is not well developed yet. I had to go abroad to get exactly that specialization in multimedia. But I prefer to have the technical aspect lacking, instead of the other way around. Coz if you can do stuff technically very well, but it’s empty from any concept of thinking, you find yourself stuck at some point ! I like the order of my 2 degrees because one came to complete the other. 4. How do you compare AUB design education to the rest of the Lebanese universities? That’s always hard to answer, because of course being at AUB, you think it’s the best. While the people at LAU or NDU think they’re the best ! So I don’t know how it went in other universities, I have very little info to answer that question, but all I know is that I think AUB gives you one of the best packages in terms of attitude towards Design. Very few people go in this program by accident, or just as you would go into business to get a job. Design becomes your life, and not your profession. And i think AUB allows you to adopt this attitude and carry on with it. We had room for experimentations, we had very good spaces at the university ( good personal studios that were open 24/7), we were encouraged to carry out projects in the community and outside the realm of the university, we had good computer labs at our disposal.All in all, I think design at AUB is top notch !

“Every Little bit counts”, a 2D and stop motion animation presented as a third year student project at AUB.”I chose to make a 1minute spot for the awareness for the protection of the sea. The animation follows the journey of dirt thrown in the sea, until it gets to our bodies and end up harming us.” - Dima Boulad

“This installation is a criticism on how a woman in today’s society can embrace televisual messages and have her vision of herself totally shaped and manipulated by the advertising messages. I took make up as a symbolic act that reveals the frustration of never being fully satisfied with the way one looks, hiding layers that society pushes us to be ashamed of, conforming to the social standards of beauty. Putting Make up on is a very repetitive act, one can almost take for granted. The installation questions what happens when a woman looks at herself in the mirror, and explores the different relations that occur : the relation between herself and her reflection, between herself and society, the break between herself and her ideal self.” - Dima Boulad

Interview with Nayla Yehia, an AUB graphic design graduate.

“I definitely want to pursue a post-graduate degree for the purpose of specializing in an area of design in order to market myself as a reputable design consultant in that far advertising and branding are on the top of my list.”

1. You studied graphic design in AUB, are you generally satisfied with your education program? professors? environment? anything you would change or add to it? I am generally satisfied with my education, but I would change a few of things. One thing that is great about the graphic design department in AUB is that it follows the Bauhaus philosophy: form follows function, which ensures that all the decisions that you take are backed by reason and logic, rather than arbitrary choices. However, I sometimes felt that the professors over-challenged concepts, which in turn compromised a student’s strength in typography and visual skills. I would suggest an equal balance of both strong concepts and strong visual skills. Also, during my education at AUB, web design was offered as an elective. But these days you cannot escape the digital world, and I think it should be mandatory that students understand how to approach the web as a communication medium. Lastly, I would introduce an advertising course to the program in AUB. I see advertising as a very logical part of the form-followsfunction philosophy because (powerful) ad campaigns rely heavily on strong concepts and insights. 2. How would you compare yourself as a graduate design student fom Lebanon, to graduate design students in Europe or the US? Where are your advantages and disadvantages? I have no bases for comparison...


3. How do you compare AUB design education to the rest of the Lebanese universities? AUB’s education really stresses on concept, and I’ve noticed that there are a couple of other Lebanese universities that do the same. But I’ve worked with graduate students from other Lebanese universities that focus more on aesthetics, visual effects and the overall look, without tailoring the design to the meaning of the content. However, these students do have a reputation for being stronger in typography than AUB students. I’ve also seen an exhibition of students’ work from another university, and I noticed that they follow visual trends. For example, if dots are in, you would find all the students using dots in their work. AUB, on the other hand, would support the visual style that is appropriate to the brief and that relates the message best. 4. Would you want to pursue another degree? if yes, what would it be, and how do you think it could help you in your career? I definitely want to pursue a post-graduate degree for the purpose of specializing in an area of design in order to market myself as a reputable design consultant in that area. I am still unsure as to what that degree would be, but so far advertising and branding are on the top of my list.

Flee is an AUB packaging project by Nayla Yehia. Brief: : “Think of an emergency situation in which you may find yourself, and design an emergency kit that will be helpful to you...” “The package includes a box and an illustrated instructions manual.The box contains a match, striking surface and a harmless firework. I designed the box in a way that allows the user to execute the escape speedily. When the user opens the box, the match lights due to friction with the striking surface placed directly underneath it. The user can then light the firework and throw it. When the firework explodes, the loud sound will distract bystanders, while the user flees.” - Nayla Yehia

The Lebanese American University has two branches in Lebanon: one in Beirut, and another in Byblos.

General Description

School: School of Architecture & Design Founded 2009 Departments: Graphic Design Interior Design Architecture Interior Architecture Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design 115 credits - 4 years Bachelor of Science in Interior Design 110 credits - 4 years Bachelor of Architecture 176 credits - 5 years Bachelor of Arts in Interior Architecture 139 credits - 4 years Courses within each department: available in the Appendix Students: 836 students in total, 10% of all LAU students. Faculty: Number of faculty members in total: 38 Number of full-time faculty members: 7 Private Ownership Tuition fees per semester: $6,500 - $8,500 USD


Message from the Dean of the new School of Architecture & Design in LAU.

“Bringing all these disciplines together in a single school of design brings more cohesion, and thus strengthens these programs that were operating under different administrative units,” says Dr. Abdallah Sfeir, LAU provost. “Beirut is a hub for all creative disciplines in the Middle East, and it is very befitting that LAU capitalizes on this in its offerings,” he adds. “These programs are very much interlinked and should be in one school, in order to deliver the best education to our students and expand our school to include additional design programs” says Dr. Badr, who also serves as assistant provost for Academic Programs. Badr hopes to build a solid foundation for the school during his tenure, focusing on financial, governance and marketing issues. “You have to give [the school] an identity, create bylaws for it, develop its own academic plans, integrate it in the university, and set it on the right path of growth to deliver quality design programs,” he explains. “Lebanon is very well known for its jewelry and fashion design. … These are some ideas that we will think about in expanding the school,” he says. “We will see which design fields are more suitable for the country and for the region,” he adds.

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The start of the academic year 2009- 2010, launched a new school for architecture and design, headed by Dean Elie Badr in the Lebanese American University. Before the formation of this new school, the design programs were within the school of Arts and Sciences, and architecture formed part of the Engineering faculty. The reason behind this change is the realization of the importance of design and cohesion between these discipline.

Interview with Danny Khoury, an LAU graphic design graduate, and a design educator in Lebanon.

“I hope that we would have some platform for designers to unite and take control of the profession...”

1. Where did you study design and are you generally satisfied with your education program? professors? environment? anything you would change or add to it? I studied graphic design and graduated from LAU (Beirut) in 2002. The education program is a really good one at LAU for graphic design, and the professors are making some talents appear from the students’ work. I went to the 2010 LAU Graphic Design student exhibition opening yesterday, and I saw some very good, average and less than average work,... I guess this is normal, because not all students have the same capabilities. But I feel some inconsistency in the standards over the years for better and worse. That maybe due to the lack of exposure to the design and art scene in Lebanon, and the visual noise surrounding us. The environment from what I recall, is that it needs more group work, and in particular group work among students who aren’t already friends, because when they go each by his own path and get jobs, they will probably have to work in teams with people they might not agree with, whether on the personal side or design-wise. I have also had this issue myself. The other thing is that they do projects that might be really interesting, but when they go to the agencies, their talents are mostly destroyed by the commercial nature of the jobs and the uncreative environments and the ‘Hoovers’ for money that make them take the easiest way out just to satisfy the clients without taking into consideration the need for the higher standards of the profession. They also need more ‘function’ in the design and try to find solutions for everyday problems whether by signage, public interventions, or products that could be taken on from the final projects to be developed later on into real projects. 2. How would you compare yourself as a graduate design student and professional from Lebanon, to those in Europe or the US? Where are your advantages and disadvantages? I personally would compare myself in a similar standard to the designers in Europe, in terms of design theory, ideas, and technical abilities, but with a problem of being unappreciated by people and clients in particular. The

advantages of working in Lebanon are that there is less competition, but the disadvantages are being paid less, and the consideration of design as something marginal that comes at the end of a project, and the rights of the designer that are lost. 3. How do you compare your design education to the rest of the Lebanese universities? Do you have any additional comments since you are also a design educator? I think that my design education is one of the best compared to the rest of the Lebanese universities, because of the impression I have left on all job interviewers that I had met, and their compliments on my portfolio. I hope that we would have some platform for designers to unite and take control of the profession where not any print shop can claim they are offering graphic design services, and that would help students and even many of my colleagues who have either given up on having a descent job that they would enjoy doing and have started some other careers though they were good designers, and that’s a shame. Being an educator in design, I would tell students, that although everyone says that student work is so much different from real life, but keeping the passion and experimentation of the student work is what matters, and should be kept on throughout the career, because that’s what pushes the limits of the profession to be competitive with Europe and other design-oriented countries. One more thing: Collaborate, collaborate, stay up-to-date and do personal projects. 4. Would you want to pursue another degree? if yes, what would it be, and how do you think it could help you in your career? After several years of work, I feel that I want to pursue a masters degree. That would make me meet other people with the same interests, have a specialization, advance in my career if I need to work somewhere, or event teach as a full-timer, and mostly have a change from my context that would enrich my experience and be more visually exposed.

As the students had to think of socially relevant design, one student created a board game for dyslexic children, which would help them learn to read and write with some fun.

LAU End of Year Exhibition 2010 of the Faculty of Architecture and Design Organizers Tarek Khoury, co-chair of the Graphic Design Department, and Melissa Plourde Khoury, graphic design assistant professor, advised the students set their priorites while designing by making them think of the impact their presented work could have on the Lebanese culture and society.

Inspired by Eastern arts, one student created the concept of a shop based on the japanese crafts of kimonos.


This student took traditional Islamic motifs and reesigned them in 3D to create the corporate identity for a restaurant.

One student designed a public transportation system for Beirut as a solution to car pollution and highway traffic. Another students hit the streets of Beirut to challenge the traditional notions of Lebanese identity by posing critical questions.

General Description

School: Academie Libanaise des Beaux Arts founded 1961 Departments: Graphic Design Product Design Architecture Interior Architecture Degrees: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Achitecture & Design 3 years Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design 3years Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures (D.E.S.) in Architecture 2years Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures (D.E.S.) in Interior Architecture 2years Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures (D.E.S.) in Graphic Design 2years Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures (D.E.S.) in Product Design 2years Courses within each department: available in the Appendix Students: NA Faculty: NA Private Ownership Tuition fees per semester: $4,000 USD


Photographer: Tatiana Toutikian, 2010

Interview with Yara Maalouli, an ALBA product design student.

“Honestly, ALBA made me hate Design.” 1. You study product design in ALBA, are you generally satisfied with your education program? professors? environment? anything you would change or add to it? Not really. The program is probably really interesting, only the “product design” as a major, itself, is not taken seriously. Maybe it’s because it’s still new (10 year old), and probably because we’re only a few students who chose product design on 3rd year (4 to 7 students per year). Actually, you can’t start with it as a major. You have to do 2 years of interior design. Then, u can either go on with interior and get a bachelor on the 3rd year, or pick design. I assume students would rather get a degree on their 3rd year, so they can do masters abroad. And since product design is an “option” and since ALBA is the only university in the Middle East to offer it, the major itself, is not really taken in consideration in Lebanon. You can’t work as a product designer. Even packaging design is done by graphic designers. So with a Product Design masters, if u want to work in Lebanon, you’ll have to work in interior design and architecture. Now when it comes to ALBA’s education program, as I said before, it’s not taken seriously. For instance, some teachers are absent during the whole semester. Some teachers are ALWAYS late. We have really interesting courses, like computer software Rhinoceros, or rendering classes. Only we learn nothing. And when we try to talk to the teachers or the administration, they just don’t care. They blame us. And even when working on project, we don’t really benefit from the reviews. Anyway, ALBA is a really weird [fucked up] system. And if there’s one thing that I learned during my 3 years there, is that you can’t count on anyone there to back you up. It’s like the student is the enemy. No wonder everybody is running out from ALBA. It lost so much from its former level and quality of education. It’s nothing more than a name. A brand. THE ONLY THING THEY TEACH YOU IS HYPOCRISY. (And I insist on saying that) I dont understand why everybody is so thrilled about us. We


‘Dust in the Wind’ in cooperation with Lea Rosa Kirdikian, presented at the Sallone Milan 2010, under the theme ‘Design in Times of Crisis’ “In Lebanon, cremation is judged to be illegal. This alone puts forward the overoccupation of cemeteries in urban contexts. As well as marginalizing a suitably cheaper way to “bury” the deceased. These 30x30x10 blocks of bio-resin would modularly be a cheap, alternative, modern urban cemetery, virtually, taking up no space...”

went to milano, and now we’re working on a competition with 9 other product design schools from Europe. 2. How would you compare yourself as a design student from Lebanon, to design students in Europe or the US? Where are your advantages and disadvantages? As I said before, in Europe and the US, students can start with Product Design as a major. And they can work in it later, as a profession. So they already know what to expect. They know more about Product Design than we do. We have no orientation towards it during our 2 first years. We just throw ourselves in it. Cause we like design. Everybody likes design. That doesn’t mean we know anything about it. Besides, we don’t learn it well. So it’s a mistake to do Product Design in Lebanon. So I think it’s better to do 3 years of interior design, get a bachelor, and then do masters in Product Design, abroad. Where at least you can find a job. 3. How do you compare ALBA design education to the rest of the Lebanese universities? ALBA is the only university in Lebanon who has a Product Design section. But I heard LAU were good in Graphic Design. 4. Would you want to pursue another degree? if yes, what would it be, and how do you think it could help you in your career? Honestly, ALBA made me hate Design. It’s like doing something, blindfolded. You don’t know what you’re doing, you don’t know why you’re doing it. You don’t understand anything. It’s either you do what they ask you to do, like a robot, either you fail. So far, I’m not even sure sticking to Product Design for the next couple of years. I might go to Paris and do a bachelor in Cinema and Audiovisual, and just let go with Design. In this case having and design education as a background would help me. I could not only direct movies or write scenarios, etc… But I could also work in Artistic Direction, Scenography or even wardrobe Design.

Interview with Vrouyr Joubanian, an ALBA product design student.

“I think an advantage is that we come from a third world country and one that’s been through a lot, and is known for it. It’s our background that’s intriguing to everyone.” 1. You study product design in ALBA, are you generally satisfied with your education program? professors? environment? anything you would change or add to it? I’m still in my fourth year, it’s a 5 year program. I wouldn’t say I’m completely satisfied with my education, because not everything is taught properly. Not all the professors are serious enough; they should be, to a certain point. We’re close friends with our teachers; we don’t have that hierarchy, that’s in every other department. Now, is that good or bad? i’m not sure. ALBA’s environment has changed. The people have changed over the past couple of years. They started accepting everyone who applies and making that one crappy building overpopulated, just for the money. The program is still fine and the projects themes are interesting. I would change a couple things, yes. First of all, I’d bring back the ‘projets loge’,which is developing a project and finishing it at ALBA, in one day. This way, you know who’s really working alone and who’s getting help with their projects. A way to control, and not end up with fifth year students who are basically third year material. 2. How would you compare yourself as a design student from Lebanon, to design students in Europe or the US? Where are your advantages and disadvantages? I think we’re very close to being as good as students from Europe or the US, sometimes even better. We have a good program, but what we lack is logistics and also connections. We barely get designers coming in and giving us workshops, or maybe working with foreign universities, like seminars/ conventions.

FRAMED by Vrouyr Joubanian & Nadim Khalifeh, also presented at the Milan furniture fair 2010 “The product is composed of 3 elements. The first being a metallic, chrome accordion base, allowing adjustability in relation to the speaker’s height. A frameless transparent magnifying film, to distort faces is the second component. This indirect and subtle film will not be visually present, for only its effects would. The last element being an integrated microphone that distorts the speaker’s voice to very high or low pitches. I challenge the politicians of the world to stand behind my product and still be credible”

In Milan, we left a very good impression and really stood out, which got us an invitation to compete with Europe’s top 10 design schools. Now, how is Lebanon in Europe, go figure. ALBA was the ‘odd one out’ of the list. I think an advantage is that we come from a third world country and one that’s been through a lot, and is known for it. It’s our background that’s intriguing to everyone. That’s a great reason we stood out in Milan, and even before Milan. Ottagono magazine, Feb 2009 issue had a long article about a workshop we did with Matteo Ragni - Italian designer. other magazines and websites also talked about us after Milan. 3. How do you compare ALBA design education to the rest of the Lebanese universities? ALBA’s the only school in Lebanon that teaches design as a major, so there’s not much to compare. 4. Would you want to pursue another degree? if yes, what would it be, and how do you think it could help you in your career? Ideally, I would want to pursue another degree. I’d go for car design - what i’ve been wanting to do in the beginning. Design put aside, photography is a major option. Car design would help me a lot on my career. I think it’s a world that covers everything about design. If you can design cars, you can design anything. photography is basically self satisfactory.

Alba Product Design Projects Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan 2010 The Lebanese Academy for Fine Arts – ALBA, University of Balamand, was cordially invited by the international firm of architects and designers, Sawaya & Moroni, to take part in the 2010 Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan. ALBA, therefore was representing itself for the first time, as well as being the first Middle Eastern university to showcase in the Salon Satellite - a section dedicated to institutions and young designers.

Lemonade Anorexia Crisis Stephanie Moussallem & David Raffoul

Beauty today, as perceived to us by the media is reduced to skin and bones. To the grotesquely skeletal. To “super models”. To their size zeroes. To the waist line on a 12 year old. To the Anorexic. “LEMONADE” is a dining room table for those “beautiful people”.

Union Political Crisis Nanar Karadjian

Unionʼ is a table radio, that embodies crisis situations involving multiparties in politics. The 6 radios integrated represent the 6 main political parties in Lebanon each identified by its flag color. 6 different people sitting on a same table can listen to their preferred radio stations by simply jacking their individual earphones. On the other hand, when the radios are on without the earphones, a mix of frequencies emerges from the speakers creating a chaotic atmosphere. Corian that has been used in this product, uniformly fuses the angles & joints of the cube. Moreover, due to its translucent ability the Corian transmits the lights of the LEDs installed inside the cube.

ONASSIS Wealth Crisis Nicolas Moussallem in collaboration with Elsa Osta


This product helps the rich and the wealthy keep their image and high-end lifestyles. It suggests making one cube for six different functions; being a seat, a bird cage, a book shelf, a lamp, a plant pot and finally a coffee table. In that fashion, for a lower budget, the well-off get to sculpt their interiors, with one manipulated object. Their temptation, their luxury, and their status hence remain untouched.

Shut ! Emotional Crisis Loulou Nassif

Unfolding an intimacy, anywhere at any time, helps to disconnect from the reality and offers the possibility to create another one, one of your own. Searching for privacy where it seems impossible. The solid materials from which SHUT! is composed have been chosen to create a hard barrier from the world. Forming a shell shaped helmet, the polished aluminium gives a reflexion of people, faces, but it doesnʼt even give a glimpse of the person hiding behind it. I used a darkening foil for the alternate version of the helmet, to emphasize on the concept of ʻʼseeing and not being seenʼʼ. The headphones placed inside SHUT! accentuate the isolation effect by filling your ears with your own music. This creates a reality of your own, associating music with slides of life as you walk alone.

INcognito Burka Crisis

Tamara Barrage & Arpy Guekjian IN cognito is an umbrella made out of transparent fabric on which is sown an Islamic pattern, a mousharabiyeh, it’s made for Muslim women who don’t have the right to decide what to wear anymore, who are fed up with the Burka and its physical impositions.

CROSS “Crisis of the Church” Marc Dibeh This cross is a snub against the church community and its hypocrisy that have caused several scandals during this past decade. It responds to the crisis of the church and the trivialization of the emblem that represents it.

General Description

School: Faculty of Architecture, Art & Design Founded 1999 Departments: Graphic Design Fashion Design Interior Design Architecture Degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design 102 credits - 3 years Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design 102 credits - 3 years Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design 136 credits - 4 years Bachelor of Architecture 182 credits - 5 years Master of Arts in Design Studies 36 credits - 2 years Master of Architecture/Landscape Urbanism 36 credits - 2 years Courses within each department: available in the Appendix Students: 450students in total: 460 95 students in Graphic Design 15 students in Fashion Design 100 students in Interior Design 250 students in Architecture Staff: 21 full-time faculty members Private Ownership Tuition fees per semester: $4,000 USD


Interview with Linda Selwood Choueiri, ex chairperson of Faculty of Architecture, Art & Design in NDU. Currently Assitant Professor for foundation studies in design. She is danish and has lived in Lebanon for over 25 years.

“I would think , though, that the depth, seriousness, scale and possibilities of what DESIGN means, is surprising to them [the students].”

1. How do you think design education in NDU compares to other Lebanese universities?

3. What are some of the cultural advantages that Lebanese design students have? any disadvantages you can think of?

Well I have followed what graphic design students do at AUB and LAU over the years, and NDU’s GOOD students are doing very well in comparison! AUB has a tendency to OVER socialize everything and missout on intelligent design solutions, I am rarely impressed from a design point of view. LAU have some great students who do good work. Their TOTAL solutions are on a higher level than NDU ‘s students CAN do - I think. We could and should be MUCH harder on them to push the level up.

We have discussed this issue many times... I think there is a lot to be bemefited from in thr Lebanese culture. Sure there are some barriers as well, but here each students has to figure out where his/her opportunities lie... and I think the Lebanese are generally good at figuring out whats best for them...

2. How does it compare to Europe? Do you think your students would easily adapt to a european design environment?

Gosh, I would send them OUT of the university, go to the camps, go to elder peoples home, go to the Army, talk to maids, give people a VOICE! This country is ODD, nobody is allowed to voice an opinion! or maybe they do not HAVE an opinion. I would force them to have an opinion, to get DIRTY! Force them to get out of the supposed SAFE environment of fancy cars and fashionable clothes they hide behind, force the mask to come off, FEEL something for children in an SOS village! I would force them to grow up and be responsible in this world!

Lebanese students are SO hung up, to measure up to European/American that they work SO hard, and are SO sweet and charming and upbeat when in Europe, etc that they usually manage very well, (you know, French educational background, etc) . I would think , though, that the depth and seriousness and scale and possibilities of what DESIGN means, is surprising to them.


4. What would you change about the current design program in NDU?

Interview with Simon Mhanna, Part time instructor of Design and Branding in NDU. He’s graduated with a BA in graphic design from NDU and holds a master degree in project management from Skema Business School Sophia Antipolis, France.

“We hear designers say ‘we lack inspiration’ due to the environment. I say that the Lebanese territory is ‘very rich for the inspiration’ but the lack of awareness regarding design makes it limited for designers to express themselves...” 1. How do you think NDU design education compares to other unis in Lebanon?

3. You’ve studied abroad, how did you feel ur education in NDU helped you adapt to the master course?

There is no doubt that the design department at NDU reached a high rank comparing to other design departments in other Lebanese universities. Especially on the typographic level, the students at NDU demonstrated a lot of professionalism. I believe that every school in Lebanon managed to have its own specialty and style in the visual communication. NDU has got its own place, but I do believe that NDU is still behind comparing to AUB and LAU on the level of workshops, events, international exposure … that other universities may present.

Since my NDU academic formation was not necessarily linked to my masters’ studies abroad, I will tackle this question from a different perspective. During the years, and in parallel with the academic skills and technical skills, the educational system at NDU helped me shape a certain endurance that played a major role in graduate education. I also believe that the process of thinking learned through the design program helped in shaping my approach to problem solving which in turn gave me confidence in my skills and helped me find my way through the international program.

2. Do you think if ur students were to be sent to a design school in Europe, would they find difficulties being on the same wavelength? Throughout the years NDU students were able to get to many well-ranked design programs in more than one country. The NDU design program has a decent level compared to the international level. Students learn the basics of design and apply them in different courses and projects. We can not neglect the fact that the students may have shortage on certain levels, like research, culture and exposure. These are crucial ingredients in the conceptualization part of design. The program should emphasize on these skills, but we have to admit that the whole society plays also a major role in this perspective. We hear designers say “we lack inspiration” due to the environment. I say that the Lebanese territory is “very rich for the inspiration” but the lack of awareness regarding design makes it limited for designers to express themselves and to explore it widely and wildly.

4. What do you want to change in the design department in NDU? The number of years should be increased in order to increase students’ proficiency through probing deeper into the main courses. A designer’s thinking process should be challenged in an environment which is taboo free, so the system should allow more freedom of expression. The design process, specially the research part, should be a crucial matter; instructors and students should be bound to apply it better. More events, workshops, lectures, … to engage students and instructors in the design life. Make instructors first and students second, understand that design is not only the “ART” of making nice layouts and visuals, but that design is a whole thinking process that can apply on any discipline and specially EDUCATION.

Interview with Jimmy Elias, Part time instructor of Design and Branding in LIU. He’s graduated with a BA in graphic design from NDU and is currently pursuing a masters degree in KISD.

“Here - in Lebanon - the biggest companies are ‘Advertising Agencies’, this is a disadvantage.”

“ wait for few exhibitions yearly, not weekly or monthly...”

1. You studied design in NDU, are you generally satisfied with your education program? professors? environment? anything you would change or add to it? I have studied Graphic Design at Notre Dame University (NDU), and have graduated in 2006. Generally I am satisfied with my education program but I would definitely change/add to it for it lacked many aspects. the absence of serious research. I look back now - 4 years after graduating - and I feel I should have been more into everything, it’s like the program was just the base of it all. As for professors, they were great but only few pushed us to research and think wider. As for the atmosphere, well it should have been much better as well. Only few exhibitions took place (noting i had my education the north campus) but we had lectures and some workshops that were beneficial. and we attended all lectures/ workshops held in other campuses. So in general, looking back to it now, I feel it needed to be more condensed, much more into research and thinking beyond ‘what is beautiful esthetically’. 2. How would you compare yourself as a graduate design student and professional from Lebanon, to those in Europe or the US? Where are your advantages and disadvantages? I do find myself in a good position. here I note that it’s relative to every person. I did work on my character as a graphic designer, on my skills, reading a lot, learning new things (in all fields, not only in graphic design), etc... comparing to those in Europe/US I can say I find myself as well in a very good position. Lebanon is a very small country, success can be reached a bit easier; but abroad graphic design for example has its studios and its world. Here - in Lebanon - the biggest companies are


‘Advertising Agencies’, this is a disadvantage. Being a graduate design student and professional from Lebanon made me work on myself much more since in Lebanon you don’t have a lot to see, you wait for few exhibitions yearly, not weekly/monthly. So in general, I find myself in a great position but I’m not satisfied. 3. How do you compare NDU design education to the rest of the Lebanese universities? My design education as I mentioned in “question 1.” was good but lacked lot of major things. comparing to other universities, it’s great. NDU is from the best 4 universities in Lebanon in Arts (AUB/LAU/NDU/ALBA). NDU education is very good and it has been in progress throughout the years. For example now new courses are taking place, emphasis areas are more studied, masters program getting better, etc... Being a professor in LIU, I have learned that an instructor character and person is as important as his skills and knowledge and when all these factors are blended, you give the best to a student and you get the best from him. 4. Would you want to pursue another degree? if yes, what would it be, and how do you think it could help you in your career? I am going to pursue another degree. I got admitted in KISD - FH koln - Germany for Masters in integrated design. I think it will help me in my career by widening my horizon. Lifting myself from ‘graphic design’ to ‘integrated design’ will open new opportunities and being a research based masters, it will enrich my knowledge and most importantly let me be a part of various fields. So briefly I think the new degree will put me in front of ‘design changing course of events’.

Interview with Khajak Apelian, he holds a BA in graphic design from NDU and a master in Type and Media from KABK– Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten

“I always had the impression that NDU students turn out to be more Type sensitive than other university students”

1. How would you compare your education in NDU, or perhaps your level of education, compared to the other students who joined your course in Den Haag? Most of the people coming from European schools (Slovakia.. Italy… Germany) have had a 4 to 5 years of design education (some 6 which includes a masters). NDU has a 3 year program which is very short and concise... Most of the students have had experience in different printing techniques (letterpress, silkscreen, woodcut, engraving etc.) NDU did not have any of that. Personally I didn’t have problems in participating in conversations about design /type history and theory, but thats just because I have read about them ... NDU has to enforce more design history courses, and encourage the students to produce work that is backed up with theories and concepts in relation to the history... 2. What would you choose to integrate (from what you learned in Den Haag) to the design course in

NDU? Where do you think your education in Lebanon lacks, that you had to go abroad to get it? I think I prefer the “art academy” environment vs the “university” environment we have in NDU. The “studio” culture: students working together in the same space. The education I wanted to have was very specific: masters in type design. Lebanon barely has masters in design in general. 3. How do you compare NDU design education to the rest of the Lebanese universities? I always had the impression that NDU students turn out to be more Type sensitive than other university students. Compared to some others NDU lacks the input of the hand, most of the work is very corporate/commercial.

Interview with Joanna Choukeir, she holds a BA in graphic design from NDU and an MA in Graphic Design from London College of Communication. She is currently pursuing her Phd.

1. You studied graphic design in NDU, and then you continued your graduate degree in London. What degree was it? and why did you decide to do it? I moved to London for an MA. I had wanted to/and applied to do an MA straight after I finished my BA Graphic Design at NDU, but as I couldn’t afford it, I worked for 3 years as a designer at Indevco Group before I moved to London... And I’m glad I did as it gave me hands-on experience of what working as a traditional designer entails in the commercial sector. The reason I was so keen on an MA was because I really enjoyed the BA and wanted more of it! I love learning about this field and this was a passport to carrying on doing just that. I chose an MA in Graphic Design at LCC because it was the most affordable option to be entirely honest. And to support my option, London and LCC specifically are considered pioneers in Graphic Design. I had already established that I was skilled in a range of different areas of Graphic Design, so I preferred a general MA rather than a specific one such as Typography, Branding, etc. 2. How would you compare your education in NDU, or perhaps your level of education, compared to the other students who joined your course in London? That’s an interesting question. A few months before I moved to London, I kept having a reoccurring nightmare: On the first of college, the head tutor would tell me that from having looked at my portfolio and that of others, he thinks I would need to really push myself to reach the general class level. It’s quite funny, but this is something I was seriously worried about considering that we were expecting about 60 students on the course from 40 different


countries! However, surprise, surprise, two weeks into the course, we had our first set of presentations on our first project’s work in progress, and it was obvious then that my work was much more in-depth and bulkier than the rest of the students. The tutor even asked if I had some little helpers who assisted me on getting this work done in 2 weeks. I suppose it remained this way throughout the year, and I graduated first class. Of course I did work hard and push myself, but I did not particularly work any harder than I was working at NDU. 3. What would you choose to integrate (from what you learned in London) to the design course in NDU? Where do you think your education in Lebanon lacks, that you had to go abroad to get it? The main difference I observed was that peer students at LCC were more resilient, motivated and willing to experiment than my previous NDU peers. They are also less competitive and work better in groups. Basically a collaborative attitude. I think this is something that NDU and generally universities in Lebanon will need to push further. Universities work in a very hierarchical structure when holarchy has definitely proved more fruitful in education. To give a simple example, I am an associate lecturer on the last year BA Design for Graphic Communication at LCC. Whenever students are presenting their final project work in progress, they are asked to all feedback to the rest of the students, rather than leaving that role to the tutor alone. Additionally, during assessments, each student is asked to mark everyone else’s work including their own, and tutors take that into consideration when placing the final mark. This and similar approaches encourage students to share skills and learning together, improve each other’s work, and become less competitive and individualistic. I also believe in open briefs and allowing students to choose the content and topic of their projects in relation to

Joanna’s Master thesis ‘Visual Politics’

“[Lebanese] Universities work in a very hierarchical structure when holarchy has definitely proved more fruitful in education.” their personal interests. We don’t need 60 books that say and do the same thing. 4. How do you compare NDU design education to the rest of the Lebanese universities? I cannot claim to know how other universities in Lebanon teach design, but the following observation is entirely based on speaking to peers who attended other universities or visiting other universities’ final shows. I believe that NDU design education is a lot more pragmatic, while other universities are much more exploratory. To put it in simple terms, NDU teaches students design for a purpose – to find a job (This is not very evident in Foundation, but it is very much so in the following years), and other universities treat design as an art form, something to contemplate, reflect on... I would definitely say that NDU is leading a better route as I believe designers are made to ‘serve’ a purpose, I would only wish that NDU would direct that attitude towards serving the much needed re-design of public sector services, interventions and campaigns, rather than the overcrowded and exhausted and of course pretty much not-needed commercial sector. 5.What has been the interest that sparked your decision to start your phd? I think after the MA I pretty much settled on a lifetime pledge: To no longer work for the commercial sector and invest all my design skills and efforts into ‘design for the social good’. My MA final poject was Visual Politics, an archive and analysis methodology of socio-political graphics from Lebanon. After analysing the archive, I realised that Lebanon was not tourism, night life, shopping, advertising... the services on the surface. On a hidden level, the segregation lines between social groups

in Lebanon was very evident. I really wanted to explore how design can help integrate this segregated society. I had been working at Uscreates, a social design company, for a few months, and because I could see hands-on how design was changing small communities in the UK, I decided that I have a project there worth investing in. The reason I chose a PhD, is because it gives me the structure I need to make sure I don’t give up on this project and I pursue it long term. The PhD is part-time over 6 years, I have monthly supervision meetings, and milestones I will have to show evidence of completing. This gives me the discipline to get things done. Being part-time, I can still work at Uscreates 4 days a week and learn from their best practice, and teach on the BA at LCC to remain involved in academic life. It was the perfect balance! 6. What are your plans after the phd? do you plan on teaching in Lebanon? I think it is very dangerous to ‘only’ teach. Wherever I am, whether in Lebanon, London or elsewhere, I would still like to be a practicing social designer as well as teaching of course, but the material I would teach would be strictly related to design and social innovation, development, sustainability, and related fields. Although I know that my learning and experience would progress at a better rate in London, I think I am tempted to move back to Lebanon because there is an urgency for introducing this into design universities in Lebanon. Designers are not makers of aesthetics, they can be problem solvers if taught and trained to be. This doesn’t mean raise awareness, this means solve problems literally. And boy are there problems in Lebanon! If design in Lebanon in geared towards that direction, no designer will be ‘job’less.

Project Samples from NDU 3rd year Graphic Design students LilyWhite is a project by Nada Abdul-Baki, fall 2008 Brief: introduce a new brand of smoothies to the lebanese market, Course: Branding for design

These 3 posters were designed by Pamela Ayoub. Students had to come up with a concept for a campaign. Out the object they chose, they had to find associations and build a campaign. Her symbol was used for a Durex condom campaign. Course: visual communication spring 2010

These 3 posters were designed by Melissa Sfeir. Students had to come up with a concept for a campaign. Out the object they chose, they had to find associations and build a campaign. Her object was a tube, and her campaign was about the environment and how nature was loosing colors. Course: visual communication spring 2010


“Threads” NDU End of Year Exhibition 2010

This year NDU celebrated it’s first fashion design graduates along with the graphic designers, interior designers, and architects. EYE2010/photos.htm

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Almost all design schools in the Middle East are private and single disciplinary aimed at teaching skills for specific jobs in the industry. The holistic inter- or multi- disciplinary approach to design is still virtually nonexistent. In this sense, one could state that design in the region is still in its infancy when compared to developed countries. Moreover, the lack of industrial infrastructure has caused a major gap between disciplines such as industrial or product design and their integration in the manufacturing economy. Although some universities are trying to integrate the social aspect of design within their education system, the frustration of the inabilities to apply the outcomes of student projects due to economical, social or political reasons seems to be an increasing problem. As design, has still not achieved its rightful role in Middle Eastern society, and its definition is still quite vague, a struggle between the education system and the users or consumers of the respective country can be observed. Designers in general feel undermined when they graduate from their design schools and enter the business world. Nonetheless, awareness for this matter has been growing, and small attempts to breach some of the existing gaps are being made. Another minor observation when comparing Middle Eastern and Western design students, is the age factor. Most students graduate between the ages of 21 and 23 years old and, when possible, immediated enter the workforce. This is a common social issue, as the region is constantly under economical pressure, the sooner the students could provide work for the industry, the more it ‘benefits’ from them. This brings us back to the issue of a design education system that promotes the ‘production slaves’ aspect of design, instead of nurturing minds that could be given the opportunity to instigate change in society. It is indeed a web of cultural, social, economical and political issues within each country, that have slowed down the development of design within the region. In some countries, these issues are more prominent than others. To be more specific, we could raise some questions in relevance to each city discussed earlier. With regards to the German University Cairo and its corresponding product design department, three major issues are apparent within the education system. As discussed earlier with Prof. Krefting, the Dean of the Applied Sciences and Arts Faculty, the challenge of integrating the German tradition of product design which is 150 years old, into the education of an Egyptian culture who has never had a design tradition, is an issue of major discourse. This has so far resulted in a series of trials and errors between the German and Egyptian faculty members, and of course, the students. A second crucial cultural problem that inhibits the development of design within the community is the fact that most students in the design department of the schools are female, as the misconception of design has given it a female oriented aspect. However, this is only half the problem. As the sociocultural norms place marriage as a priority in the majority of Egyptian women’s life, most of the students do not usually follow careers in their design major. Adding to this dilemma the subsequent fact that GUC offers quite an expensive education, while the majority of Egyptians live below average standards; all the students come from very wealthy backgrounds, and the notion of a job to provide for themselves is still not considered as a vital necessity. This doesn’t, by any means, undermine the quality of the work produced, and it is very clear that the standard of education they are receiving in GUC is one of the best in the Middle Eastern region. Finally the third complaint, as is the case in most countries of the Middle East, is the lack of infrastructure to produce the designs created by the students. This in turn obviously creates a frustration, and inhibits the motivation of designers. Afterall, what is the point of making a great prototype and then storing it in an archive with all the rest of the prototypes which will never come to life? Although the section dedicated to Tehran is shorter than the rest, one clear obstruction for the development of design and design education can be observed. As discussed in the first historical part of this thesis, Iran enjoyed a very culturally progressive life until the 1979 revolution. This event has had major implications on the lives of Iranians, especially the youth. Because of the strict political regime that governs the people of Iran, much Western influence has been blocked out. There are many schools in Tehran that teach design, and from my limited conversations with two Iranian designers, I could only deduce one hypothesis. Golnar states in her interview that graphic design, which is much influenced by Arabic Calligraphy in Tehran, is considered an ‘art’. Hence, it seems that consideration for design as strategy and problem solving has yet to be integrated in their system. Moreover, she also mentioned that the lack of availability of resources (perhaps textbooks and general infrastructure) could be an extra cause to this problem as well. To make a clearer analysis of this region, one would have to get involved with Iranian universities and interact with designers in the city, and as the current political situation does not allow that, such an extensive study would have to be postponed.

VCUQatar is a special case in the Gulf region. It is a nation that is under 40 years old, and adheres strongly to its religious and cultural traditions, but also enjoys the status of being one of the wealthiest countries in the Middle East. Since they could afford it, the Qatar Foundation bought Virginia Commonwealth University, ‘installed’ it in the vast desert as part of what is now ‘Education City’, equipped it with the latest state-of-the-art facilities, and obviously charged the parents of the Qatari students $20,000 USD a year to teach their girls design skills. I personally think it is a great opportunity for the entire Gulf region; however, the outcomes of this education is somewhat speculative. There are many contradictory factors regarding the cultural implications of this institution and as well as the economical benefits that it could produce for the country. While former VCUQ professor Peter Martin expresses that this education system is not addressed at benefitting the needs of this culture, Assistant Professor Diane Mikhael Minassian begs to differ and stresses on the prioritized aspect of the integration of Arabic typography in the student projects. But is this really the only aspect of culture we are concerned with as designers? When Martin speaks of how the over-consumerism that has hit Qatar is destroying the nature of their cultural behaviour because of the lack of awareness in developing their own strategies, will Arabic typography really help? Moreover, as the students are also almost entirely female, Doha exhibits the same sociocultural barriers but on an even deeper level. As former instructor Roula El Khoury states, most of her students were already engaged, and I also suppose there must be some economical difference between a student who can afford a $10,000/semester fee in comparison to one who can afford a $6,000/semester fee (GUC). An even more disturbing common trend in the Gulf region (re-confirmed in Roula’s interview) is the preference of employment of ‘foreigners’ rather than their own citizens, this habit is also very common in countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain. So the question here is: how is VCUQatar as a leading global design institution helping in these matters? These points should be further researched in Qatar’s case, perhaps they might aid in finding solutions that all design schools in the world should be trying to solve. Finally in the case of design schools in Beirut, one can notice a difference in standards among the univerisites, which would probably be the case if there were other comparisons made in the previous cities. In contrast to the three other cities, Beirut is considered the most socioculturally liberal, since it is the only country in the Middle East that is not governed by Islamic Law, with the exception of Israel of course. Therefore, the barriers in this case are more related to the ongoing political, and eventually economic crises. Over the past few decades the country has experienced a consecutive series of wars and their aftermath, which has inevitable struck the development of its design education system as well. There has also been quite an extensive discourse regarding the nation’s cultural identity crisis and how it has effected their communication design. As there is no manufacturing or export industry and only one design school (ALBA) which deals with product design, the majority of designers are limited to the fields of print and media. This has created a huge advertising industry, which has only strengthened the commercial aspect of design, and disregarded to a certain extent its social implications. Although, the design faculties of universities such as AUB and LAU, have been strongly persistent on the socially critical aspect of communication design, and have left some room for experimentation with various media; the essence of that learning process is lost due to the fact that most jobs available in the country for graphic designers are in advertising agencies. For this reason, the design faculty in NDU teaches its students to operate on briefs that are typical of the Lebanese advertising norms. Needless to mention, the briefs that are handed down to those young designers are restricted to cliche campaigns aimed at encouraging non-stop consumerist behavior without much thought or research. The majority of the paying clientele are entrepeneurs of the Gulf region. Therefore, those designers who are ‘blessed’ with the offer to work abroad, jump at the opportunity, even though most of the job opportunities are in the Gulf region. Although, they are confined in their freedom within the restricted rules of life in the Gulf, they seek comfort in the slightly more abundant salaries. As for going abroad to continue design education, it is surprising to realize that most students leave their ‘job/practical skill’ based education, to pursue even more in-depth job specific skills. This seems at present somewhat counter intuitive, when one refers to the changing role of design and the future trends it predicts.


This next chapter is the description of three exemplary design schools in Europe and the United States of America. The reason as to why they are considered exemplary is due the modules of education that they have developed for the emerging role of design as a multidisciplinary field that can be adopted to the changing global economy, and serves as a tool for creating better systems, products, communication, and services based on user-centered research methodologies. In the next chapter the Kรถln International School of Design, the Design Academy Eindhoven, the Parsons New School for Design are presented.


chapter three: three exemplary design schools in Europe & USA

Köln International School of Design

The Cologne Model of Design Education “In general studies at the KISD are interdisciplinary and project-oriented. Besides these projects the studies are stamped by scientific seminars, which are accompanied by lectures, technical seminars and workshop introductions. Additional courses are also offered for short terms, to teach specific know-how as is necessary, and desired by the students. The spectrum is completed by student work groups, within which the students contribute indispensably to the everyday life at KISD.”

Founded in 1991 12 areas of expertise 22 full-time faculty members 450 students 12 Areas of expertise: Audiovisual Media Design for Manufacturing Design Concepts Design and Economy Designtheory and -history Ecology and Design Gender and Design Identity and Design Interface Design Production Technology Service Design Typography and Layout

Degrees: BA/MA European Design BA/MA Integrated Design

Tuition fees: €600/semester


Academic Partnerships:

Sydney College of the Arts (SCA), University of Syndey University of Western Sydney Fachhochschule Voralberg, Dornbirn Universidade Federal de Paraná, School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Instituto Superior de Diseño, Havana Danmarks Designskole, København Designskolen Kolding University of Art and Design, Helsinki Les Ateliers/ENSCI, Paris Budapesti Mûszaki És Gazdasagtudomanyi Egyetem, Budapest Holon Academic Institute of Technology, Politecnico di Milano, Milano Kyushu University, Fukuoka Musashino Art University (MAU), Tokyo Hogeschool Inholland, Rotterdam Akademia Sztuk Pieknych Im. Jana Matejki w Krakowie, Krakow Akademia Sztuk Pieknych w Poznaniu Glasgow School of Art BAU Escola Superior de Disseny, Barcelona Universidad Politécnica de Valencia Konstfack, Stockholm Linköpings Universitet, Linköping Shih-Chien University, Taipeh California College of the Arts, Oakland/San Francisco Parsons The New School for Design, New York Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Design Academy Eindhoven

The Compass Curriculum “In Design Academy’s Compass curriculum, students go through eight “rotations” to expose them to various aspects of design: usercentric categories like leisure and well-being; technological categories in the lab, and business categories, finishing with a mandatory onesemester internship.”

Founded in 1947 8 user centered departments 9 heads of faculty 700 students 8 Departments Man and Activity Man and Communication Man and Identity Man and Living Man and Mobility Man and Public Space Man and Well-being Man and Leisure

Degrees: BA Design- 4 years MA Man and Humanity

Tuition fees: €800/semester


Academic Partnerships: RCA (United Kingdom) UIAH (Finland) ECAL (Switzerland) ENSCI (France) RISD (USA) Technical University of Eindhoven (Netherlands) uploads/2007/05/5bbt3026.jpg /2007/05/5bbt3026.jpg/

The New School for Design

“Parsons The New School for Design recently unveiled an innovative new academic structure. Consolidating a dozen departments, each offering numerous degree programs, Parsons now comprises the School of Art and Design History and Theory; School of Art, Media, and Technology; School of Constructed Environments; School of Design Strategies; and School of Fashion. This bold step acknowledges the historical segregation of disciplines within university-level art and design studies programs. It also recognizes the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of problem solving in contemporary society. Through this multiple-school structure, Parsons is better able to effect social change while continuing its tradition of challenging conventional thinking.�

Founded in 1970 13 undergraduate design departments 150 full- time faculty members 1000 part-time faculty members 5000 students Undergraduate programs BFA Architectural Design BFA Communication Design BBA Design and Management BFA Design and Technology BA/BS Environmental Studies BFA Fashion Design BFA Illustration BFA Integrated Design BFA Interior Design BFA Product Design BS Urban Design Graduate Programs M. Arch Architecture M. Arch Architecture/ MFA Lighting Design MFA Design and Technology MA Fashion Studies MA History of Decorative Arts and Design MFA Interior Design MFA Lighting Design MFA Transdisciplinary Design Tuition fees: $16,000 to $18,000 USD/semester


Overview Commentary

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“Design education in Europe and the Unites States is going through a period of ethical, philosophical, technological, ecological, and cultural challenges. As the role of designers in an increasingly global audience is changing, the role of design education must also change to meet these needs.” - Tim Marshall, Parsons New School of Design*

Indeed my entire perception of design has been reshaped after having been a student at KISD for three years. Coming from an institution that trained all its design students to be machines with specific job skills, I experienced first hand the education system at a school such as KISD which teaches its students to be ‘citizen designers’. Design, as a discipline, which was initiated by the Bauhaus, made use of the European Industrial Revolution, and created a ‘modernized period of professionalized crafts’, and transformed them into what is known today as graphic, product, interior, and fashion design. In recent years the emphasis of this aspect of design has been shifted to ‘the capacity to organize trans-disciplinary processes through sustainable design, service design, design management, and design thinking’ in order to solve complex problems. This ‘capacity’ to design means to be able to collaborate and communicate ideas, to have empathy towards surroundings, articulate design insights to non-designers, and think strategically. This disciplinary shift is not restricted just to design education, but could be observed in the global redefining of the logic of institutions in the academic and commercial realms. Therefore, a design education system that is crammed with much specific skill-based content might prohibit the designer from seeing ‘the bigger picture’ and block the ability to manage increased complexity. “Design structures our lives, interactions, consumptions, democratic and governmental processes so basic comprehension of how design works should be required as a part of good education”, claims Tim Marshall. When students learn to comprehend design as a human capacity that encompasses all aspects of political, social, and cultural life, they would gain an extensive world view and decide for themselves what they want to change.*

* Form magazine 224 issue January/ February 2010 p. 50 - 52

What are some of the conditions that contribute to the success of a design school? Taking the three schools KISD, DAE, and Parsons New School, one can observe some common criteria which have helped in the progress of the level of design education in general. The following could act as a basic general guideline that, in my opinion, should be applied to all design schools. As the “content” of the projects should be tailored to the specific social, political, cultural, and economical needs of the respective country, they are not added to this list, but will be provided in the next chapter. The program of study should be multidisciplinary, based on design thinking and strategy instead of concentrating purely on practical skills. Research is the vital tool for any design process. The school must teach the implementation of user-centered research methodologies borrowed and developed from other disciplines such as social sciences (anthropology, ethnography, psychology, cognitive science, a selection of cultural studies as well as business management, and marketing... Group work is necessary as often as possible, this not only enriches the design process and the outcome of the project, but also helps the students adapt to the work environment. There should be weekly presentations of student projects to the entire school, this would increase interest in each other’s work and motivate collaboration. Smaller groups of students are preferable to larger ones. A maximum of 12 students should be involved within the same project/course, being lead by one or even 2 instructors. It is also preferable to meet and interview prospective students before they are accepted to the school. Each student must be given a task or be able to prove some of their creative skills before becoming part of the design school. Instructors must give direction to the students when needed, but let them be entirely free to choose what they wish to do and hold them responsible for their work. It is also very important that the professors themselves are active designers or thinkers in the field, this creates confidence, as well as suggests closer ties to the industry for the students. The design school should be located in the heart of a city where it could be surrounded by inspiration. This would also benefit the students in terms of observational research. Instead of being just another faculty, the design school should be set apart from the university it belongs to. The school should also have its own identity, and image. The students should have a say in shaping their environment, the interiors of the design school should be aesthetically appealing, and student projects must always be on display. Also, a meeting area, preferably a comfortable cafe should be available for discussions among the students. Business partnerships with the school help the students farmiliarize themselves with career choices and promotes their work, which increases their chances of finding suitable jobs with firms who are interested in the educational development of their work. Partnerships with international design schools enrich the students’ global cultural perspective by offering them opportunities such as exchange programs. Participation in international design fairs and media coverage is also very important for the image of the school. This motivates students to perform better, as well as encourages enrollement from prospective designers. Finally, owning a shop that promotes and sells the student projects helps as well.



chapter four:

PROJECT: Public Design Intervention Beirut


As part of this thesis on design education in the Middle East, research and analysis derived out of the direct interaction with Lebanese design students and professionals on a multidisciplinary project is necessary to encompass their cultural make up, as well as their understanding of design thinking. A crucial factor that needs to be determined is the general scope of motivation for change in the reputation of design as a discipline in the professional and educational fields. Furthermore, this motivation has to be communicated to the general public through points of ‘designer’ and ‘user’ interaction. As a matter of fact, not only was the course of this project a great success relatively speaking, it also introduced several members of the design community to the possibility of dealing with design as a tool for change as well as introduced them to others who were interested in experimenting with the power of design action aimed at shaping communities and inspiring citizens.

user-centered research. I was later told by an ex-professor that such ‘radical’ ideas of change from an unknown such as myself, who comes and challenges the system, are not welcome in such hierarchical institutions. This disappointment in the system that I experienced as a response to my trial only fueled my desire further to make this project a success.

The first step was to get people involved in the project. Initially, the plan was to depend on the design schools available in the country to host the project and encourage the participation of the students. Unfortunately, due to clashing time schedules and personal complications, this arrangement was soon abandoned. At the time, I had intended to base the project on design thinking strategies and research methodologies, thinking that it would be a useful tool for design students, especially since I had not been taught these methodologies during my education in Lebanon. Specifically, I had planned an outing in the city where information could be collected on a certain topic and then used to make cultural probes as a tool for

The reasons behind this change of brief were firstly to challenge the educational system and make their students create interventions that might not ‘fit their idea of design education’, especially since there were no rules or taboos that couldn’t be broken in such a project . Second, I wanted to make the students get a perspective of design that didn’t have a commercial aim or was based on a specific design skill. I wanted the designer to come up with his/ her own solution and interpret it in the public sphere in any method necessary. In order to generate interest in the topic, the brief had to bear strong perceptual and psychological attachment to the daily life of the Lebanese community. The brief read: Make a statement about the


On the plane from Cologne to Beirut, I sketched out a new course of action, and allowed myself a week to implement it. Instead of a workshop on research and design thinking, the brief would be based on public design intervention. Public design intervention can be defined as the interference of a designer or member of the community on a public space by asserting a certain statement on the inhabitants of that space through any means necessary. The most common form of public intervention is graffiti, yet the last few decades gave given rise to some ingenious ideas that have been implemented across international cities and have caught worldwide attention.

change you want to see in your country through means of public intervention. The second attempt to get participants for the project was through my old network of friends, family, colleagues, and professors in Lebanon. Friends of mine who were teaching part-time design courses in Lebanese universities informed their students about the project. My sister, who is currently a design student in Beirut sent out the word through her network of design students. Others were aware of the project by receiving flyers around the city, while some joined the Facebook page created for this event out of personal interest or advice. The meeting place was a restaurant named appropriately “LiBeirut” which translates to “For Beirut”, in the heart of the city. In fact, the owner of the restaurant is also an old friend who was more than willing to dedicated his entire upper floor for this project. On the 14th and 15th of May 2010 over 60 design students and professionals showed up to the briefing of the Public Design Intervention: Beirut project. A collection of images about public design intervention from all over the world were presented, explaining the various methods that have been experimented with so far. Many of the participants had not thought of public intervention as a form of design; however, as beirut is quite famous for its recently emerging graffiti scene, they all understood the concept and purpose of such activities. After the presentation, a discussion about the topic arose. We all shared issues that really bothered us in our lives in Lebanon and explored potential methods which could be efficient in creating strong statement in the public realm. One of the problems that emerged in the social sphere, which which I identified personally, was

the lack of privacy and the role of society as a judge on all aspects of a person’s choices and behaviors. However, as the discussion developed I realized that many of the social issues, that I had become to acknowledge, were not regarded as crucially destructive issues. I then realized this could be the case because I had not lived within the Lebanese community for a while. Moving to Germany, where people are free in their own individuality, I had become more critical of this social problem. Perhaps such collectivist patterns of behavior were so much part of these designers’ lives as they knew it, that they couldn’t imagine it any other way, or perhaps it didn’t bother them at all. At any rate, this is a side topic that is to be further discussed within the cultural scope of the thesis. The participants also spoke of environmental issues, such as noise and sea pollution. They expressed disapproval towards the government who did not contribute enough to the prevention of pollution caused by burning harmful waste on the outskirts of the city, or dumping it a few meters from the coast of the Mediterranean sea. Obviously these are also very serious problems that the country faces; yet there seems to be a Western influence on the choice of subject. Also bearing in mind that most of the examples they had observed during the presentation revolved around subjects of lack of public/ green space for leisure, which were mostly present in Europe and the US. Some participants brought up cultural and social issues such as the disappearance of the Arabic language from our English and French influenced conversations, the dangers of political corruption and bribery, the concerns of mass immigration

of the youth, and the heedless following of all social rules without questioning. Media-related issues came up as well; as designers, they were all exasperated of being constantly harassed by the omnipresence of bad advertising, especially of the political kind. The debate gradually grew intense and the energy created by the conversation seemed to charge the participants to create their design interventions and express their dispositions. Within the next two weeks, a group on a social network was established, and a constant flow of communication was set between the participants among each other and myself. More importantly, this space for the designers to interact with one another s an initial step that would eventually be a platform for designers in Lebanon, and optimistically, the Middle East. This platform could act a niche that designers could use to evolve and spread their initiatives within a subculture or community dedicated to design interest. At the present state, mostly artists and musicians have the priviledge of such platforms dedicated to their events and interests, but designers are constricted to their office seats in advertising agencies, and are rarely included in purely design related events . Even if there is a design exhibition or workshop, it is usually still under the “arts umbrella”, and I think its time for designers in the Middle east to exit the art womb and embrace a world that belongs solely to designers as critical problem solvers. Such a presence of a design community is the only way to motivate designers as thinkers and authors in the industry, overriding their limited positions as “production slaves” for advertising and manufacturing firms.

After the creating and installment of the public design interventions produced by the participants of the project, each designer is asked to stay in the area surrounding their artifacts and observe its ramifications. It was also very crucial to document the reactions and interactions of people who came in contact with the work. They were required to find ways to push the people to interact with the work, even if it were just by looking at it. As predicted, many people did react, some just by a smile and others by angry accusations of destruction of property or suspicious behavior, one person even threatened to call the police. On the prospective side, a project made it in one of the most famous local newspapers “Al Balad”, and another made it on a number of blogs dedicated to environmental sustainability (the most famous of which being About a month after the first meeting, the Arabic Language Festival launched a campaign in the streets of Beirut, and the creator had used public intervention as a medium. Coincidence? perhaps not. In the next pages the projects created by nine Lebanese designers and design students are presented.

‘Enjoy Your Green Space’ Dima Boulad & Nadine Feghaly These two ladies did their public design intervention on the lack of green space in Beirut. They installed a road sign on a small piece of grass in nine different locations around the city. Their intervention proved to be one of the most successful ones, as it was noticed by one of the most famous blogs of the country. They also posted their work on their own blogs and created an impressive wave of awareness throughout their community “Especially after my visit to Barcelona and even to Istanbul, I noticed how much we lack green spaces in Beirut, I absolutely loved the moments i spent in parks, under some trees..."Green space has a positive impact on mental health. People living in areas with green spaces are less likely to have anxiety disorders or depression, and they are more likely to be physically active..." - Nadine Feghaly

“One of the things I feel most frustrated about in Beirut is the lack of green spaces. The urban planning of the city includes very little accommodation of public green spaces where you can relax and chill. I especially felt this lack after living in Paris for a while. So when the time came, Nadine Feghaly and I collaborated on this public intervention to express our disagreement with the lack of the "urban-green" !” - Dima Boulad


Nadine Feghaly interviewed on France 24 about her project.

Interview with Dima and Nadine in NOW Lebanon, a well-known Lebanese Blog.

‘Noise Pollution in Gemmayzeh’ Dominique Maalouf Dominique Maalouf decided to do her intervention on noise pollution in part of Beirut where recently the noise caused by so many bars and clubs are disturbing the residents. She filled wrote song titles relating to silence on colorful bags and filled the bags with earplugs. After the intervention she explains: “I have a personal problem with sound pollution in general. I hate when people shout out loud in the streets or when the cars honk...unfortunately the Lebanese do yell a lot and make a lot of noise for nothing. Gemmayzeh doesn’t concern me directly, but there has been this recent issue about sound pollution there so I thought that perhaps the inhabitants of this area will respond better to my intervention.”

“While I was hanging the bags, an old man appeared from his 4th floor balcony and started yelling at the road cleaner to remove the bags. As I understood he thought there was food inside them.”


“Most of the young people passed by, read whats written on the bags but did NOT take the bags (even though I clearly wrote on them 'its free' or 'try this'. Eventually, only two people picked them up: a young man who waited for me to disappear only to grab a bag and run like a thief, and a french old couple.”

“I have made two observations from this project about the Lebanese society. First, I think that the lebanese have no curiosity at all (except for useless gossip). Second, they are not interested to take initiatives and grab stuff, they need to be actually given the stuff!”

‘Bribery’ Nayla Yehia Nayla was fed up with the system. In lebanon, with enough money, anyone can get away with anything. Her public intervention was applied to paper bills. There are set unspoken rules about how much each kind of bribe costs. She exemplifies this concept by stamping on each bill, what its value can buy in terms of illegal bribery.

10,000 LL (€5) can save you from a parking fine


20,000 LL (€10) will make any transaction faster

100,000 LL (€50) will enable you to avoid paying taxes at the port.

50,000 LL (€25) will make your car pass the ‘mecanique’ (yearly check up).

100 American dollars, and any goods can enter through the port.

‘The Fisherman & Global Warming’ Roxanne Zalloum Roxanne, an active Greenpeace member, dressed a dummy in fisherman gear and paraded with it on a car around the streets of Beirut, while holding a sign that says: ‘I’m waiting for the sea level to rise...’ taking a sacrcastic turn on the benefits of the rising sea levels. Her intervention was so successful that it was covered in one of the most famous Lebanese newspapers, Al-Balad.

‘Public Toilet’ Danny Khoury There are no public toilets in Beirut. This causes its inhabitants to use the streets as their toilet. To make his point clear, Danny stuck his public design intervention on a wall next to some of the most famous bars in Hamra, Beirut. It consisted of a toilet roll, a ‘public toilet’ sign with the photo of a urinal, and a final statement of courtesy: please flush after use.


‘Emigrant’ Pierre Abi Younes There stands a statue in Beirut, in commemoration to all those who emigrated during the wars. This has been a major issue for this society, as all the ‘brains’ tend to leave the country due to political turmoil. Pierre decided to tackle this problem by installing 2 road signs next to this statue. One is a stop sign, and the other a return sign.

“meet the lebanese "immigrant status"... it is located on your way from "dawra" to downtown after the sukleen plant and on the turn of the "port"... it represent a lebanese citizen with with "zouwede" on his back looking towards the sea with a tag line both in mexican and in arabic saying ‘from lebanon to the world’”

‘I ... U’ Marc Esber

Marc created an installation wall of post-its with the letters I and U seperated by 3 dots in his university. Next to it was a pen hanging from the wall. He was curious about what people think of and what they would write down...

“Well, Most of the notes were irrelevant to the subject “I...U” which shows how much they’re suppressed by the local atmosphere (Mentally), they didn’t even take enough time to express what’s really on their mind, 3 words “ LACK OF AWARENESS”. But, the rest understood the subject and filled the notes with words that are limited by the subject, which shows some adaptation potentials, 1 word ‘HOPE’”




chapter five: design education & culture

Beirut 1920s taken from Heart of Beirut, Samir Khalaf p.57


Design Education & Culture: Where’s the Problem? Culture is the group specific lifestyle of a given human society, which encompasses a distinctive way of thinking, perceiving, feeling, believing and behaving that is passed on through imitative learning and symbolic representation from one generation to another. These behaviors and perceptions in themselves act as an unwritten set of rules for each individual to cope within the corresponding environment. Phenomena related to ideology, nationality, ethnicity, social class, and gender are common areas of concentration in the study of cultures. Moreover, culture is not only the influence that is dominant in an individual’s behavior, it also affects expectations of other’s behaviors. In design discourse culture could also be regarded as the meanings of everyday practices and the attitudes involved with the interaction of objects, systems, services and the media - and to be fairly broad, almost every aspect of daily life. As design plays a major role in the creation of these products and services, and the way society interacts with them, it is also held ‘responsible’ for the implications and consequences they inflict on the society. Therefore, ideally, design education ensures that it teaches its students empathy towards others and sustainability towards nature, and prioritizes the importance of research, in order to apply it to design a better world for all. In simple terms, the education system is built on the needs of the people it has to serve; and different people have different needs. But, since we already have a set of unspoken rules or group-specific lifestyles (cultures), this helps designers identify who they are designing for and consequently tend to their needs. In these terms, cultures serve as an indicator for the design that complements it, and design education is the tool that helps a designer understand that relationship. Historically speaking, design education emerged out of the needs of the European Industrial Revolution, forming the Bauhaus school which took arts and crafts and ‘professionalized’ them into academic disciplines. As the technologies evolved, so did the education system. By the 1990s, countries in the Middle East began to rebuild their economy, but until then, there had never been design education in the region. And as it was already few decades behind, it adopted the existing and developed European and American models. Design education curriculums, mostly graphic design, were taken -as they are- from design institutions such as the former London College of Printing and taught to the first students who applied. This lead to the growth of the advertising industry in the Middle East. The bigger issue in this matter is that the entire region had suffered from so much war and damage, that it had not been able to develop any manufacturing industrial infrastructure, so it depended on Western imports. This brings us back to the issue of design and the consequences it inflicts on the consumers. As the Middle Eastern consumers of these Western objects had not designed their own shops, food chains, cafes, clothing, phones, and every other object they interacted with, suddenly they were faced with an epidemic shock which is known as globalization and cultural identity crisis. These products and technologies that they had imported changed almost every aspect of their behaviors; they infiltrated their languages, the relationships among themselves, their social values and even their most profound beliefs.


Each nation in the Middle East decided to deal with this epidemic in a different way, some sought to ban everything that is Western and adhere back to their traditions, others embraced them and disregarded their entire history, and a few simply accepted it and redefined what it meant to be a Middle Eastern citizen. Designers have yet to realize their roles and responsibilities in the Middle East; in most cases, instead of creating awareness about issues such as cultural identity crises or trying to find solutions for it, they have made things worse. After all, the majority of these so-called designers work in the advertising industry.

* Design Studies: Theory and Research in Graphic Design, Audrey Bennett, Princeton Architectural Press, New York. Chapter 17, A Step Ahead of Praxis: The Role of Design Problem Definition in Cultural Ownership of Design, Peter Martin, p.261

“A healthy culture is a particular configuration of significances, values, and practices that connect a social group of people to a particular place in a way where all needs can be met sustainably by the local natural resources”. “Design is the process of intention-guided specification dn. implementation of changes in form, structure, and/or significant of material, sign event or interaction within a given context” This all-encompassing scope of design makes it one of the most extensive mediums with which a culture is engaged. “Design and culture are mutually generative of each other”. Design uses culture to create new outcomes while culture receives them and creates new meaning. Ideally, it is a self-sustaining cycle: design is democratic because it needs local participation in every part of the cycle, and at the same time it responds a range of design performance requirements demanded by the the unique needs of the culture.* The ideal cycle of culture and design*

The problem with the importation of western goods into Middle Eastern culture is that the taunting availability of so many products and services is blurring the sense of choice and distorting the perception of what the consumers really need. This could be observed in the Gulf countries, the imported products and methods undermine the ability of the culture to fulfill the needs of its individuals*. In this case, design prevents sustainable and meaningful answers to some of the basic questions that culture naturally answers because of economic motives and consumerist greed. To be clear, I am in no way against Western influence, I believe that the convergence of cultures creates rich hybridized ideas, but one has to know what to choose to integrate and how to apply that integration. This is the challenge that faces design education in the Middle East today. How do we teach the designers of the future to understand their own culture, filter out the positives, combine them with their already existing knowledge of Western models, systems, and ideas to produce innovative and culturally relevant design for the Middle Eastern society? Within the past few years, design education programs in the Middle East have been trying to encourage their students to create ‘culturally relevant’ projects which tackle current significant issues. This is apparent in the project samples and faculty exhibitions presented in the second chapter of this thesis, specifically in the works presented by the Lebanese American University in their recent End of Year exhibition (p. 70 - 71). Also, as discussed with Prof. Krefting, the product design faculty at CUC is trying to breach the gaps between the design students and their culture by connecting them with Egyptian craftsmen and re-establishing the complementary role of a designer with strategic thinking capabilities used for social and cultural improvement. The difference between both efforts (Beirut and Cairo), is that the LAU attempts to be culturally relevant are still restricted to the visual language of graphic design projects, whether it is a poster, a corporate identity, or a public intervention; whereas the GUC students are interacting with the craftsmen and asking them what their problems are, and trying to come up with solutions that are suitable for them. The outcome of a design project must be effective towards the audience in order to be successful; simply displaying the aesthetically appealing work with important context, is no longer enough. This role of a designer as an active medium between the provider and the consumer within a specific society, is yet to be introduced to the design education system in the Middle East. Furthermore, I have a personal issue with the way a ‘culturally relevant, specific, sensitive…’ design project is perceived. There seems to be a confusion within some of the design faculties between ‘social relevancy’ and ‘culture’. When instructors claim that they are pushing their students to produce works that reflect and influence their culture, there seems to be no stage of observation and analysis to test this influence or relevance. For example, designing an awareness campaign for a current Lebanese social issue, using the appropriate visual language without taking into consideration if the audience is actually ‘culturally prone’ to react to awareness campaigns demonstrates a lack of research. So the bottom questions are in this case: I see that Arabic typography is used in this poster, and I know that it concerns this particular issue in my environment, but is it affecting me? Will it motivate me


* Design Studies: Theory and Research in Graphic Design, Audrey Bennett, Princeton Architectural Press, New York. Chapter 17, A Step Ahead of Praxis: The Role of Design Problem Definition in Cultural Ownership of Design, Peter Martin, p.260

to react? Perhaps if the message reached me through some other medium, my response would be different. So what type of medium am I culturally prone to respond to best? The answer to all the above questions is research: user-centered, qualitative, ethnographic research. Such forms of research developed by social scientists provide insights to culturally specific behaviors and values. It involves creating cultural probes to obtain subjective information about the interactions between people and objects and concepts. It also includes observing or interviewing people to understand who they are, and who they perceive themselves to be. Such research methodologies have helped scientists deduce so much detailed information about human beings, and disprove many assumptions that most people take for granted. Unfortunately, in the Middle East, such research is the work of sociologists and anthropologists, and very few designers have integrated it in their work. * Design Studies: Theory and Research in Graphic Design, Audrey Bennett, Princeton Architectural Press, New York. Chapter 17, A Step Ahead of Praxis: The Role of Design Problem Definition in Cultural Ownership of Design, Peter Martin, p.260

** Time Conception and Consumer Behaviour: some cross cultural implications, Paula Hayes, Judy C. Nixon, Judy F. West, Journal of Consumer Studies and Home Economics (1990) 14, p.15 -27

“Because of the seamless and transparent nature of culture, it is a difficult thing to observe directly, understand comprehensively, and define usefully.”* Most people only recognize aspects of their behavior and values as part of their culture, when they are confronted with the opposing or different interpretations of another culture. A person who has always perceived a handshake as the form of greeting accepted by everyone in his/her culture, would only notice this behavior as a cultural consequence once he/she is greeted with a kiss or a simple nod. Such observations have, over the course of time, created assumptions that are specific to each of the world’s cultures, and have eventually given birth to stereotypes and cliches. However, what is most interesting in these culture-specific behaviors, is that they raise questions about the reason and purpose for their emergence. These behaviors provide us with clues about the nature of our society and culture, such that they may lead to clusters of ideological or phenomenological concepts that govern our lives. Understanding those concepts and how they affect people could inform us about what makes people respond in a multitude of ways to a multitude of stimuli. I will try to provide an example within a design-related context. Time perception varies to a great extent among cultures; some may conceive of time as linear (monochromic) while others perceive it as circular (polychromic). Those who think of time as a linear concept, view it as ‘fixed’ and governed by the movement of the clock. In this sense, time is inelastic: events are allocated to specific clock measured periods. On the other hand, circular time concept cultures are less clock governed; a unitary event/time coupling is less meaningful in this framework, so time is perceived as elastic. Generally, traditional cultures perceive time as a circular concept relating to the regular cycle of seasons, whereas modern societies think of time as a linear concept regulated by the clock.** With relevance to the concept of time, we may observe some cultural behaviors that give us clues about the ideological concepts that govern the lives of these groups of people. In the Anglo (European/American) culture promptness and punctuality are much valued within human communication, especially in business. Respecting appointments is a crucial social value and demonstrates respect towards others. Coming prepared with the ‘right answers’ and ‘getting straight to the point’ accurately in a professional meeting

are highly valued characteristics, because as the American say : ‘Time is ** Time Conception and Consumer Behaviour: Money’. Therefore, any lingering on personal matters irrelevant to the some cross cultural implications, Paula subject matter are considered as ‘wasted time’.** Hayes, Judy C. Nixon, Judy F. West, Journal The Middle Eastern cultural context has a present orientation, it is viewed as a constellation of ‘instants’ rather than a continuous serial linear flow; therefore, events can exist simultaneously. Time and the order of events is willed by God in this traditional society, so instead of interpreting time as a currency, their turn of phrase is ‘Inshallah’, meaning ‘if God so wills’. In these terms, as time is not conceived within the control of Man, making appointments way ahead of time (over a week) seems presumptuous. Moreover, as time is viewed in a circular and elastic manner, it is not uncommon in this culture to have many things going on at the same time. Punctuality is not considered as a highly valued characteristic; in fact, many perceive the promptness and sense of urgency of the Anglo culture as ‘extreme impatience’ and sometimes even rude. Taking time within meetings to discuss personal matters is believed to be a sign of bonding, which establishes trust between both parties; and trust is a very important matter for this culture, especially in business.** Bearing this in mind, designing a system for a society should be built on such culturally relevant parameters. To introduce such concepts in design projects within the education system should be one of the top priorities of educators. The challenge here is to have enough research about the culture itself in order to determine what aspects of it could be useful to design strategy, and in which areas they could be applied. Furthermore, if the systems that govern the Middle East are based on Western perceptions, then perhaps, the time factor which has been disregarded as a major difference could be one of the reasons for its failure in a certain context. Take for example the recent implementation of the Car Park Ticket Machine which is a control system that decides how long each car is allowed to park in a certain space. In Beirut, the citizens have still not quite adapted to this system. In fact, most drivers have completely ignored their existence. The unspoken rule goes as such: If you find an empty space, park in it, and hope that the policeman will not come around before you have left, or park in the local parking lots, ensuring that the 2000 Lebanese Pounds (1€) that you have given the owner will keep your car safe in its place for the rest of the day. The reason behind the refusal to use the machines is not just to ‘cheat your way out’ or save money, but it is also due to the fact that this culture has never adapted to the idea of consecrating a specific amount of time for a specific action. It just does not come naturally. What is required of designers in such a scenario is to develop more creative solutions to make this system work. Perhaps, the solution could be in replacing the time duration of the parking ticket with a task oriented option found on the machine. This task should be researched by finding out what are the daily tasks that drivers perform while their car is parked. Thus, the education system would have figured out how to design within a cultural context, leading to truly culturally ‘relevant, specific, sensitive…’ design.


of Consumer Studies and Home Economics (1990) 14, p.15 -27

Cultural Aspects of Middle Eastern Society within design context

In this section a more detailed description of the cultural aspects of Middle Eastern society are selected and transformed into design context. If we accept design as the human ability to think creatively and strategically with input from research to find solutions for problems, then surely, certain aspects of established human behavior can act as a guide for our design decisions. Moreover, these guidelines that could be applied to corresponding fields of design may transcend culture and benefit design thinking globally. In other terms, what can a person from another culture learn from these Middle Eastern cultural behaviors, and how could these in turn provide insights to design thinking in general? The problem with ascribing certain group-specific behaviors to specific cultures is that one might easily fall into clichĂŠs and stereotypes; but for the time being, this is admissible because all these cultural aspects should only act as guidelines for further research in order to test their validity. It is advised that the following points be considered for the sake of identifying what we mean by cultural behavior, and how they can be an advantage to the design process.

Chaos and Urban Design

“The city is a state of mind.” Joseph Rykwert

“It is a marvel to live in such an urban milieu, where one literally never encounters the same familiar and unchanging street or neighborhood. One is liberated in an existential sense from the deadening effects of habit and the sterility of familiar places.” * The geometry of chaos is observed in the fact based discovery that most seemingly chaotic systems in nature hide a deep underlying order of a beautifully balanced structure.** The Middle Eastern city is a living and constantly transforming chaotic structure that physically defines the culture’s chaotic nature. In fact, in the Arabic language, the word neighborhood is ‘Hayy’, which literally means ‘alive’, and its plural form ‘Ahiyaa’ translated in english to ‘the living’.* The relationship that the urban space and its inhabitants share in traditional Middle Eastern culture is a self-sustaining generative cycle. Each part plays a role in shaping and affording meaning to the other. ** The irregularities in the geometry of such a city, would suggest to the foreign eye, an unorganized indefinable pattern, however, once one experiences and understand the symbiosis between the social dimension and the physical space, that underlying subtle order of a chaotic structure appears. In the streets of Hamra, in West Beirut “the very irregularity of the ways in which the buildings aggregate appears somehow to give the hamlet a certani recognizability and suggest a certain underlying order.”** Ayssar Arida, a renown urban designer who grew up in the streets of Hamra, agrees that good urban design examples are usually linked to pre-Cartesian societies historically and culturally, such as Medieval and Renaissance towns as well as Far Eastern and Middle Eastern present cities because they ‘possess a coherence that comes from their response to organic world views’. This strong ‘self-made’ relationship between urban space and the people living in it has an important advantage to the development of a culture. When a city is formed out of the free creation of its inhabiter, instead of a forced authority that imposes on its people the shapes, styles, dimensions, locations and colors that compose their physical environment, the information that the urban space encompasses is more likely to be ‘true to its nature’. Urban space acts as an interface for information storage, and when the information is an indicator of the actual experiences, realties, values, ideas, and memories of its people, it becomes the collectively shared reality. “More shared experience creates more potentially shared associations and therefore


* Heart of Beirut: Recaliming the Bourj, Samir Khalaf, Saqi Books, London 2006, p.19

**Quantum City, Ayssar Arida, Architectural Press, 2002 p. 150 -184

The view from my balcony in Beirut, Achrafieh.

more common identification. Added group and spacial identification helps develop communities and gives meaning to the spacial dimension beyond its mere function e.g home instead of temporary shelter”**. * Heart of Beirut: Recaliming the Bourj, Samir Khalaf, Saqi Books, London 2006, p.22

“Lamartine, who visited Beirut in 1832 said that the roofs of some houses served as terraces to others”*

Another aspect which is also important in the cultural sphere of the Middle Eastern traditional city is the conceptual fluidity between private and public space. In Western or Modern urban planning, there are sudden splits between the private and public spheres; moreover, these splits are tangible physical obstructions such as fences, gates, private property signs, keep out signs...). They exist because of the individual need for security, psychologically and physically. Such borders and barriers are not common in the traditional Middle Eastern culture because communities share strong ties and are very familiar with one another, and this acts as their security network. Door and windows are left open, and people move freely within each others’ homes. A community member would undoubtedly recognize an intruder and **Quantum City, Ayssar Arida, Architectural inform the rest of the community. This aspect of the urban space makes Press, 2002 p. 190 it safe by design.** The natural behavior of the Middle Eastern culture to introduce collective meaning and associations into the space it creates and uses it as a security network might give insights about the different levels of relationships societies share with their surrounding. Not only does this particular urban space provide us with a rich source of information about the people that dwell in it, it also acts as a research tool for designing space within a user-centered context. Unlike modernist urban design where the form of each structure in the urban sphere is determined by its function, such a sample of culturally relevant design teaches us about the importance of living within a space that identifies us as much as we identify it.

Collectivist Societies and Social Networking Systems In Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, the Middle East is one of the lowest ranking in the world in terms of individualism; in his analysis, the world average is at 64, and the Middle Eastern societies rank at 38. This translates into a Collectivist society which is manifested in ‘a close long-term commitment to the member ‘group’, that being the family, extended family, or extended relationships’. In collectivist societies, people are integrated into strong cohesive in-groups which protect and care for each member in return for unquestioning loyalty. In this term ‘collectivism’ refers to the group and not the state. *

* Geert Hofstede™ Cultural Dimensions,

Western societies are considered to be individualistic; and this phenomenon could be traced back to the Industrial Revolution. Before industrialization, traditional social frameworks were built around the agrarian family unit which was the core support network of each member. As factories sprung up all over the European and American lands, a new work force was established. The individual was no longer bound to the farm and this caused the disintegration of the grouporiented traditional structure. An industrial revolution never took place in the Middle East, instead the family unit structures remained and were -over time- embedded deeper and deeper into the culture.the reason that it is still strong to this day is due to the benefits it provides for its members. In fact, this collectivist system is actually an intricate and complex social network that serves an endless list of purposes. To be more specific about the benefits of this cultural aspect, we will take employment as an example. To my knowledge, at least in Lebanon, most people find jobs through family, friends, and friends of friends. I have never known anyone there who has found employment through a newspaper ad, a recruiting company, or a website. Usually, employers will only employ people that have been referenced by someone they trust. This social network that has been the most common source for employment all over the region is hundreds of years old. It bears with it the collective understanding of its underlying structure, and each member of this massive network contributes by making more connections and enriching the density of the network itself. Psychologist Dr. Jacob Levi Moreno introduced the sociogram in the early 1930s. It was the first formal attempt to map out the relationships within a group of people. The sociogram which is a cluster of individual nodes connected by straight lines became a powerful tool for identifying social leaders, outsiders, and sociometric stars -person to whom all others are connected. This is the science which developed to what is known today as social networking sites such as facebook, myspace, and linkedin. The benefits of online social networking are known as social capital; which could include useful information, personal relationships and the ability to recognize and form groups. This system acts as a tool for each member and increases a community’s capacity to organize and achieve goals.** As the Middle Eastern culture already has an extensively large and dense social network because of its collectivist properties, it may provide insights to the design of networking systems. Understanding how this intricate system works, and the basis concerned with the establishment of the interconnections and relations may shed light on the further development of such systems which are a relatively new field in system design.


**Culture and the Structure of the International Hyperlink Network, George A. Barnett Eunjung Sung, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11(1), article 11, html

Disclosure and Design Research

* Hospitality in the Middle East, Friedel Rother travel/articles/hospitality-in-the-middle-east. shtml

“People will be intensely curious and before you have even sat down you are likely to be asked the first of many questions about your life. It is often what would be considered very personal probing for a Westerner but completely normal and not rude at all in the Middle East. “Do you have kids?” is a favorite, followed by “Why not?” if you do not….Your age, job, salary, religion and politics will also be of interest.”* A third aspect of Middle Eastern culture which is an inevitable social consequence of living in closely tied collectivist societies is disclosure. As people in the region are accustomed to the lack of private space, as opposed to Western cultures, the sharing of information -even those which are considered private to Westerners- is common social behavior. In this sense, the Middle Eastern community is always aware of all the affairs of its members. In fact, it is almost as if being private about one’s life is not really a matter of choice.

**Transit Beirut: New Writings and Images, Malu Halasa and Roseanne Saad Khalaf, Saqi Books, London 2004 p. 36

Writer Antoine Boulad writes in his homage to the golden days of Beirut city center about one of the city’s most favorite barbers, to whom Boulad was a regular customer : “Like all good barbers, he was the official keeper of rumors that circulated in the area. He carefully filled them on the shelves and in the whorls of his ample brain.”Hasn’t your sister just become the lawful wedded wife of Abdel-Rahma?” He would ask.”** In fact, Beirut’s entire network of hairdressers, barbers, shopkeepers, cleaners, delivery boys, restaurant/bar owners, and especially housewives know all the secrets of the neighborhood, and nothing travels as fast as gossip over there. Although this factore of constant disclosure may have its negative connotations, it actually serves a useful purpose. Jaclyn Le, a former colleague of mine, worked in the Deutsche Telecom research center in Berlin. They were conducting interviews with the citizens of a part of Berlin, with a large Middle Eastern community. She and her research team noticed that those of Middle eastern origin were a lot more responsive to their questions, and were willing to share so much of their personal information. Unlike the citizens of more reserved cultures, they would gladly invite the researchers into their home, offer them tea, and the entire family would want to participate in answering their questions. Moreover, not only would they tell of their experiences, but also those of other members of the neighborhood. The scenario seemed all too familiar to me.

***Affording Meaning: Design Oriented Research from the Humanities and Social sciences, Julia Almquist and Julia Lupton, Design issues Volume 26, Number 1, Winter 2010

Research plays the biggest role in user-centered design. Qualitative ethnographic interviews and behaviorist analysis of the user have remapped design research from a study of things to the study of people***. If people are not willing to share their experiences and knowledge with designers, it affects the quality of the outcome. In this case, the Middle Eastern culture’s informative nature for the disclosure of personal information enriches the research needed to create a better designed life.

Hospitality and Service Design

“There is not one variety of olives on the table, but three, and hummus and eggplant, some pita, pickles, and white cheese. There are two main courses, in case one might not be to the guest’s taste, and fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, okra, onions, eggs. Everywhere in the Middle East, the traveler is overwhelmed by hospitality.”* “If there is one thing you can count on in the Middle East, it is that you do not need to seek out hospitality. It will find you. Standing on a street corner in Iran, looking confused or lost, is impossible to do for more than a minute before a helper will arrive and declare themselves to be at your service. In Syria, we ruled out accepting tea more than twice a day. Otherwise we would never have made it beyond the border post. Invitations flow freely from the smallest village to the biggest city.” ** Hospitality is a deeply embedded aspect of Middle Eastern culture, that is depicted as moral obligation in the passages of the Bible and the Koran, which were written in accordance with the traditions and beliefs of the Middle Eastern peoples. It is traced back to the traveling culture of nomads and settlements that were built near available water. Strict codes of conduct developed to govern encounters between travelers in search for food and shelter. The conventions also applied to desert dwellers knows as Bedouins***.

* The ancient virtue of hospitality imposes duties on host and guest, Miriam Schulman and Amal Barkouki-Winter, Santa Clara University, v11n1/hospitality.html **Hospitality in the Middle East, Friedel Rother listings/travel/articles/hospitality-in-the-middleeast.shtml

*** Travelers and Strangers: Hospitality in the Biblical World Dennis Bratcher, The Voice,

As Middle Eastern traditions and religious conventions are still in most parts of the region respected, being hospitable is a natural social behavior which is highly imperative. This social factor is not only evident in the home, but also in business, especially in the service sector. “He takes pride in remembering the names and tastes of every returning customer. A person can disappear for months, Charbel (right) boasts, and he will still remember the amount of sugar they take in their tea.”**** “Listen carefully, Ronald McDonald: we do not want to be standard.... We want to be special. When we order a sandwich, we ask the Chef to make it ‘Alla Zawaak’ (to his own taste). I want him to look at me, guess how much tarator, how much onion and tomato would suit my palate. I want a sandwich tailor-made for me. ‘This falafel sandwich Mr, Kassar, is just for you. Nobody else in the world has eaten one like this, I can assure you’.”***** The traditional Middle Eastern food service bears a very important lesson for user experience. When the provider takes the initiative to personalize the interaction, then the customer’s satisfaction is met. In this case, hospitality goes a step further than mere respect and the accommodating smile, it urges the creation of a relationship between the user and the provider which is saved in the provider’s memory and reestablished and strengthened with each recurrence of the service. This provides an insight to service design that goes beyond the restricted and automated interaction between user and provider, and interposes the human aspect which is necessary for the success of the user experience.


Charbel Bassil, owner of Le Chef restaurant in Beirut, Gemmayzeh. **** Now Lebanon,


*****Transit Beirut: New Writings and Images, Malu Halasa and Roseanne Saad Khalaf, Saqi Books, London 2004 p. 26

As mentioned in the beginning of this section, these cultural aspects that have been introduced into design context should act as guidelines that must be further researched. In order to test their validity and relevance towards design education in the Middle East, a professional team of designers, economists, social scientists and educators must be formed. The expertise of each discipline would provide input that is necessary for the revision of a design education curriculum fit for the needs of the region.


chapter five: The Middle Eastern Design Research Center

The Middle Eastern Design Research Center

Initially, this master thesis was aimed at redesigning a design education program and curriculum for a Middle Eastern design school. However, my research, and in fact the lack of research on this matter, as well as the discussions that I had with professors and students made me realize that there still some important steps missing in the process. Having observed how a handful of European and American design schools have simply bought a building, borrowed a curriculum, employed instructors, and accepted students in order to figure out how it will all come together, it seems to me that following those same steps with another curriculum is currently counter-effective and inefficient. The problem with such a process is that the time and resources that it consumes in order to test the feasibility and progress of a certain teaching methodology is not producing a proportionally effective result. In other words, if a design institute researched the entire region, and the available design curriculums, found out where the weaknesses and strengths were, and used that information with input from social scientists, educators in other fields, as well as designers from the region and abroad, in order to create a suitable design teaching methodology and tested it through workshops in different parts of the Middle East, they would be saving time and resources in the long run. There are an abundance of gaps that need to be filled within the Middle Eastern design education system, most design schools are overlooking these issues, and those who are trying to find solutions are restricting the information they deduce from their experimentation to the institution itself. Ideally, we are not concerned with the reputation of a specific design school, as much as we understand the need for change in terms of design education in the whole region. We are proposing an independent research center that acts as a cultural organization which will be responsible for gathering the qualitative and quantitative data, analyzing it within a team of professionals, deducing possible solutions and testing it with prospective or current design students and graduates.

Objectives A preliminary basic set of objectives to be considered as the main priorities and goals of the Middle Eastern Design Center involves the following: The research center would be required to set the research of cultural aspects of the Middle East within design context as a primary goal and test the validity of the outcome through a series of projects with current, prospective and graduate design students. Consequently the information gathered should be used at rebuilding a design education curriculum for the needs of the Middle Eastern countries. A thorough investigation of all design schools in the region must be collected and their corresponding strengths and weaknesses must be pointed out, and compared. All projects must be developed in intention of creating awareness about the changing role of design, its importance in a multidisiplinary field, and its benefits towards the economy. The design research center must also act as an independent link between designers and the industry. Student projects that are worth implementation for the advancement of the nation must be proposed to the necessary authorities.


The center should work on creating links with cultural organizations and funding institutions, in order to promote independent design projects, workshops and exhibitions. It is also an essential component of the integration of the center within the academic and professional realms, that there be a constant presence of students, professors and professionals involved with the projects and research development. The Middle Eastern design center will act as a hub for the entire region. Once it has established its presence within the community, it is anticipated that other design schools would collaborate with it and seek out to improve their education system relying on the research gathered by the center.

Plan: An official plan is still to be developed. The main concern is to find a funding organization for this research center. A team, made up of designers, educators, and social scientists should be established. It is preferable that the majority be of mixed Middle Eastern origin, however it is still necessary that other nationalities contribute to the cultural richness of the group as well. The location of the Middle Eastern research center is Beirut city, since it is in the center of the region, and with the exception of Iran, has the highest number of design schools. It is currently advised to research the process handled by the foundation of other design research centers which are quite common in Europe and the US (e.g. ReD design research lab).

The challenges that face a design center for the Middle East are numerous. As such institutions barely exist in the region, or are applied mostly to market research, its implementation will surely involve some complications. The most important factor when presenting such a concept to a funding organization or the public is to be able to demonstrate the economical benefits of a research center through examples of success while stressing on the problems caused in the Middle East due to lack of research. In foresight, perhaps the concept of a research center for other disiplines would also be encourage, if the Middle eastern design research center were to be a prosperous and lucrative endeavour.



Course Descriptions and Curriculums VCUQatar Graphic Design Course Description

BFA Degree in Graphic Design Curriculum

“Graphic design is a creative and analytical field that integrates art, technology and strategic thinking to create and communicate ideas and information to known audiences. The field is an exciting one in that it is ever-changing, responding to the times, culture, global influences and technological innovations. It is a field where critical thinking, problem seeking and creative problem-solving leading to an aesthetically appropriate solution are integral to all design activities. It is the Graphic Designer’s role to understand, create and disseminate information using the most appropriate media to reach an audience.

FOUNDATION YEAR Drawing Studio Surface Research Space Research Time Studio Project Art History Survey I and II Focused Inquiry (English) I and II Introduction to the University Mathematics Behavioral/Social Science elective

The practice of graphic design is evidenced everywhere we look, in everything we read and purchase. Designers seek to understand the communication problem and build a process that will explore options for the design of the communication. They manage, structure and embed information in the most engaging manner while delivering the appropriate information to elicit a desired response.

YEAR TWO Design Technology I and II Design Methods and Processes Design Form and Communication Typography I and II Imaging I and II History of Visual Communication Writing and Rhetoric Workshop (English)

Effective graphic designers are excellent critical thinkers and creative problem-solvers. They work with numerous mediums and with typography, color, image and form. They can work from the abstract to the literal, simple to complex, with a systems approach or focus on a singular piece. Designers work collaboratively or individually. All in all, the designer is flexible and creative. The Graphic Design program at VCUQatar positions students to take advantage of many career opportunities through its emphasis on creative and intellectual thinking, awareness of social and cultural issues, integration of new technology and concern for ethics and the environment. The accredited, four-year BFA degree program in graphic design educates students to be innovative leaders in the areas of print and digital media. The dedicated, well-qualified faculty, state-ofthe-art facilities, small classes and strong community environment prepare students to be excellent innovators. Graphic design is an ever-changing profession that responds to global influences and technical innovations. Students learn to design in the context of the Gulf region while being exposed to the wider world through participation in exchange and internship programs, study abroad, international competitions and the VCUQatar biennial international design conference, Tasmeem. Within the educational framework of an American university, the graphic design curriculum embraces a commitment to working with, and advocating for Qatar, the Arabian Gulf and the Middle East in a diversity of contexts.

YEAR THREE Design Technology III Print I and II Interaction I and II Visual Narrative I and II Graphic Design Internship Literature elective General Education elective YEAR FOUR Senior Seminar Senior Studio Business of Design Studio Topics: Experimental Design Studio Topics: Designer in Context General Education elective Open elective Natural/Physical Science elective Writing in the Workplace

VCUQatar alumni are well-rounded, successful individuals prepared for engagement with a complex world.”


VCUQatar Fashion Design Course Description

BFA Degree in Fashion Design Curriculum

“Ever wonder what Giorgio Armani, John Galliano, Donna Karan, and Karl Lagerfeld do all the time? Work! Fashion is often mistakenly perceived as being limited to the catwalk, and about makeup, big hairdos, glamour, show biz parties, clunky shoes and outlandish outfits. In reality, few other professions depend as much on keeping on top of the ever-changing popular opinion and watching what competitors produce. The life of a designer is intimately linked to tastes and sensibilities that change at a moment’s notice, and he or she must be able to capitalize on, or even better, influence those opinions. Fashion embodies the ideas and the attitudes of the time we live in and every generation of designers gets to remake the world through their designs.

FOUNDATION YEAR Drawing Studio Surface Research Space Research Time Studio Project Art History Survey I and II Focused Inquiry (English) I and II Introduction to the University Mathematics Behavioral/Social Science elective

The fashion industry is a complex, multi-billion dollar business encompassing design, production, distribution and retailing. It is the fourth largest industry in the world and the third largest employer in New York. In 2007, the textile and fashion industry in the Middle East was valued at $11.4 billion. Students in the Fashion Design program at VCUQatar participate in a distinctive opportunity to blend the rich history of Arab culture and traditions with the fashion industry of the 21st century. Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Thea Porter, Georges Rech, Rene Moua’wad, and Arab-American Joseph Abboud have paved the way with their Western clothes which are heavily influenced by Arab style. Fashion design is far more than the crafting of beautiful clothing. Fashion involves footwear design, jewelry design, leather goods, theater costumes, uniform design, sportswear, swimwear, formal wear and casual wear design for men, women and children. Students learn how to develop a fashion collection, from concept to the finished product. They are exposed to a complete range of technical skills in model drawing, pattern drafting, draping, color illustration, jewelry design and textile design. Aspiring designers are encouraged to look beyond the traditional restrictions of fashion and to scrutinize clothing as it responds to lifestyle, sculptural practice, performance, movement, costume and art. The curriculum also includes computer-assisted design, aesthetics, the theory of composition and color, fashion history and a range of business-related courses. Fashion studies are backed with a strong focus in the marketing, merchandising and business management of clothing and accessories. Students are taught how to interpret theoretical knowledge to predict various trends that affect the global industry. They learn to employ visual and theoretical research and analysis skills to identify the supply and demand trends, and to explore strategies for merchandising and marketing of apparel.

YEAR TWO Construction Techniques Patternmaking I and II Draping Fashion Drawing I and II Textiles for the Fashion Industry General Education elective Writing and Rhetoric Workshop (English) Design History: 20th and 21st Centuries Fashion Show Production YEAR THREE Design 1 Studio I and II Contemporary Fashion Design Theory and Illustration I and II Fashion Forecasting Fashion Promotion Business of Design Writing in the Workplace Fashion Show Production Literature YEAR FOUR Natural/Physical Science elective Design 2 Studio I and II Fashion Seminar Design Theory and Illustration I and II Fashion Show Production Fashion Internship General Education elective Open elective

A professional runway show highlights the designs created by senior fashion students during the annual fashion show. Students plan and produce all aspects of the event, from inspiration to final execution, including model selection, fashion design, choreography, stage and set design and backstage management. Each year, the fashion show receives rave reviews from professional designers, the fashion press, guests and the Qatari community. Guest designers and speakers from the fashion industry including Emanuel Ungaro, Carla Fendi, JJ Valaya, Manish Aurora...”

VCUQatar Interior Design Course Description

BFA Degree in Interior Design Curriculum

“The business of Interior Design is perfect for those who love to be creative and work with others. It is also a rapidly growing profession. Economic expansion, growing homeowner wealth and an emerging interest in interior design are all increasing the demand for professionally trained interior designers. Interior designers draw upon many disciplines to enhance the function, safety and aesthetics of interior spaces. Their main concerns are with the ways that color, texture, furniture, lighting, accessories and space planning combine to satisfy the physical and emotional needs of a building’s occupants. They plan interior spaces and, to some extent, the exteriors of almost every type of building, including offices, airport terminals, theaters, shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals and private residences. To realize their designs, they work with clients, contractors, architects and any number of specialists to create functional and pleasing environments where people live and work. They make decisions about flooring materials, wall and ceiling paints and treatments, lighting, window treatments, appliances, furnishings and accessories.

FOUNDATION YEAR Drawing Studio Surface Research Space Research Time Studio Project Art History Survey I and II Focused Inquiry (English) I and II Introduction to the University Mathematics Natural/Physical Science elective

Research shows that good design can boost office productivity, increase sales, attract a more affluent clientele, provide a more relaxing hospital stay or increase a building’s market value. In the past, interior designers tended to focus on decorating choosing a style and color palette and then selecting appropriate furniture, floor and window coverings, artwork and lighting. But today, well-trained interior designers are also capable of producing custom architectural detailing for components such as crown molding and built-in cabinetry, as well as planning comprehensive layouts for buildings that are undergoing renovation. And because they have a solid understanding of construction and building systems, they can determine the ideal location for walls, windows, stairways, escalators and walkways. Interior designers must be able to articulate their ideas concisely to a wide variety of professions through drawings, written text and oral presentations. They need to be comfortable meeting and working with people from diverse backgrounds, in addition to possessing good leadership and collaboration skills, because many design projects are accomplished by teams.

YEAR TWO Introductory Interior Design Studio I and II Interior Graphics I and II Advanced Interior Graphics I Fundamentals of Interior Design Writing and Rhetoric Workshop (English) Interior Materials and Textiles General Education electives YEAR THREE Interior Design Studio I and II Advanced Interior Graphics II Light and Color in Interior Environments Building Systems Writing in the Workplace Literature elective Historic Environments Design History Construction Documents YEAR FOUR Senior Interior Design Studio I and II Senior Seminar I and II Interior Design Internship Social/Behavioral Science Elective Business of Design Open electives

The VCUQatar experience is a multi-cultural exploration. Students are exposed to local customs and traditions as well as real-world problems that face the global community today. Studies in interior design encompass knowledge about interior spaces and how they are used, materials and finishes, interior building systems and life/safety codes, color and lighting, furniture design and cabinetry, and construction documents and specifications. Students must have a firm knowledge of technical graphic communication and they develop the ability to present information both manually and digitally. Additionally, students study the history and theories of architecture and interior design. Students at VCUQatar are taught by professors who are interior design professionals and who bring their backgrounds and current professional experiences to the program to ensure the highest quality of interior design education. The professional expertise of the VCUQatar faculty adds tremendous value to both the classroom and studio setting. The curriculum blends the breadth of a university education with the practical value and insight gained from a professional program. Classroom instruction is supplemented by real world experiences...”


VCUQatar MFA Design Studies Course Description

MFA Degree in Design Studies Curriculum

“The Master of Fine Arts in Design Studies is the first graduate program in design in the Gulf region, accepting the first class of students in fall 2009. The program provides an educational environment where self-directed students with diverse knowledge sets in design and related disciplines collaborate and challenge the definition and development of design problems, processes and solutions. Students will expand and deepen their abilities and increase their motivation to contribute directly to innovation, education and leadership in design thinking and making. Graduates will approach design on a strategic level to provide a high degree of constructive and sustainable value to the economic, social and cultural contexts of the global community.

“Graduate students are expected to develop an individualized program of study within a context of cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural design issues including but not limited to the design of built and digital environments, product development and marketing, usability, ergonomics, semiotics of visual form, persuasive informative and poetic uses of visual communication, as well as contemporary theories of design and sociology. Full-time residency is preferred. Part-time study is possible depending on individual need and space availability.”

The program acknowledges that design is a professional discipline that is broadly based and highly collaborative, incorporating the transfer of knowledge across traditional domains to create products and processes of manufacture, environments, forms of communication and the organization of information. Only six students will be accepted into the program each year. Students in the program will receive individual mentorship throughout their course of study. Degree Requirements The Design Studies track requires 60 semester credit hours of study. Students are expected to complete a thesis project of complex scale and scope and present a written thesis that will complement the work undertaken in the thesis studio. Course work in the degree is comprised of 9 semester credits of theory, 21 semester credits of studio, 13 semester credits of applied research, 3 credits of practicum/internship, 9 credits of thesis studio and 6 elective credits. This Master of Fine Arts degree is recognized as the terminal degree in design and meets the accreditation standards established by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design in the United States (NASAD).”

FIRST SEMESTER DESI 601 Interdisciplinary Design Seminar DESI 520 Design Research Methodologies DESI 611 Design Studio One DESI 510 Materials and Methods Studio SECOND SEMESTER DESI 602 Advanced Design Seminar: Design Criticism DESI 612 Design Studio Two DESI 605 Design Strategies and Ethics for Business DESI 521 Design Research Applications THIRD SEMESTER Approved Studio Elective* DESI 630 Teaching Practicum in Design OR DESI 631 Design Internship DESI 613 Design Studio Three DESI 620 Design Research Studio - Thesis Formulation FOURTH SEMESTER Approved Elective* DESI 690 Thesis Studio DESI 621 Design Research Studio – Leadership & Entrepreneurship

Course Descriptions and Curriculums AUB: Bachelor Degree in Graphic Design Curriculum

AUB: Bachelor Degree in Architecture Curriculum

Term I (Fall) ENGL204 or English as required GRDS112 Color ARCH121 History of Art and Architecture I GRDS111 Drawing ARCH100 Basic Design

Term I (Fall) ARCH100 Basic Design ARCH111 Technical Drawing ARCH121 History of Art and Architecture I ENGL206 or as required ARCH151 Statics and Mechanics of Solids

Term II (Spring) ARCH122 History of Art and Architecture II GRDS101 Graphic Design I GRDS214 Illustration GRDS141 Computer Graphic I Term III (Summer) Credit Hours 9 GRDS113 Photography Distribution Elective Distribution Elective Term IV (Fall) GRDS251 Typography I ARCH223 History of Art and Architecture III GRDS242 Computer Graphic II GRDS202 Graphic Design II Term V (Spring) GRDS203 Graphic Design III ARCH224 History of Art and Architecture IV GRDS252 Typography II GRDS231 Introduction to Visual Theory Term VI (Summer) Distribution Elective Distribution Elective Term VII (Fall) GRDS361 Professional Practice GRDS325 History of Graphic Design GRDS304 Graphic Design IV Term VIII (Spring) 2 Distribution Electives GRDS343 Motion Graphics GRDS305 Graphic Design V Term IX (Summer) GRDS462 Approved Experience Term X (Fall) 2 Distribution Electives GRDS406 Final Year Research GRDS344 Interactive Media Design Term XI (Spring) Distribution Elective GRDS407 Final Year Project Distribution Elective


Term II (Spring) ARCH101 Architecture Design I ARCH112 Descriptive Drawing ARCH122 History of Art and Architecture II ARCH152 Analysis and Design of Structures I Term III (Summer) ARCH241 Surveying Regional Architecture Term IV (Fall) ARCH202 Architecture Design II ARCH223 History of Art and Architecture III ARCH242 Building Construction I ARCH253 Analysis and Design of Structures II Term V (Spring) ARCH243 Building Construction II ARCH224 History of Art and Architecture IV ARCH203 Architecture Design III ARCH313 Computer Aided Design Term VII (Fall) ARCH304 Vertical Studio I ARCH261 Building Services CIVE109 Construction Management ARCH325 Contemporary Architecture Term VIII (Spring) 2 Distribution Electives ARCH305 Vertical Studio II ARCH331 Urbanism Term IX (Summer) ARCH474 Training in Execution Drawings Term X (Fall) ARCH406 Vertical Studio III 3 distribution electives Term XI (Spring) ARCH407 Vertical Studio IV 3 distribution electives Term XIII (Fall) 3 distribution electives ARCH508 Final Year Project Design & Research I Term XIV (Spring) ARCH509 Final Year Project Design & Research II academics/curriculum.aspx

Course Descriptions and Curriculums LAU: Bachelor Degree in Architecture Curriculum

Fall Semester: 13 credits ARC231 Design Studio I-A ARC232 Design Studio I-B ARC241 Technical Graphics I ARC271 History of Design 2 ART221 Drawing I

Spring Semester: 15 credits ARC432 Design Studio VI ARC422 Building Technology II ARC412 Building Systems IV — Professional Elective PED— Physical Education

Spring Semester: 14 credits ARC233 Design Studio II-A ARC234 Design Studio II-B ARC240 Sketching ARC251 Introduction to Computer Graphics ARC261 Introduction to Design ETH201 Moral Reasoning

Summer Modules I and II: 10 credits ARC481 Construction Documents — General University Requirement — General University Requirement

Summer Modules I and II: 9 credits PHO211 Photography I — Art Elective* — General University Requirement Fall Semester: 16 credits ARC331 Design Studio III ARC351 Computer Graphics I ARC341 Technical Graphics II ARC371 History of Architecture I ARC361 Theory I Spring Semester: 15 credits ARC332 Design Studio IV ARC352 Computer Graphics II ARC342 Technical Graphics III ARC372 History of Architecture II ARC363 Theory II

Fall Semester: 16 credits Number Course Cr ARC531 Design Studio VII ARC501 Design Workshop I ARC521 Building Technology III ARC523 Environmental Systems I ARC581 Urban Planning I ARC— History and Theory Elective Spring Semester: 15 credits ARC532 Design Studio VIII ARC502 Design Workshop II ARC522 Building Technology IV ARC524 Environmental Systems II ARC561 Seminar — Professional Elective Summer Modules I and II: 7 credits ARC538 Internship — Professional Elective — General University Requirement

Summer Modules I and II: 12 credits ARC311 Building Systems I ARC312 Building Systems II — General University Requirement — General University Requirement

Fall Semester: 9 credits ARC631 Design Studio IX ARC601 Final Project Research ARC584 Building Codes and Laws — Professional Elective

Fall Semester: 15 credits ARC431 Design Studio V ARC421 Building Technology I ARC411 Building Systems III PED101 Basic Health — General University Requirement

Spring Semester: 10 credits ARC632 Design Studio X — Professional Elective — General University Requirement

LAU: Bachelor Degree in Graphic Design Curriculum

LAU: Bachelor Degree in Graphic Design Curriculum

The Program curriculum consists of 34 credits for the Liberal Arts Curriculum Requirement, 30 credits for the Core, 32 credits for the Foundation Year requirements, and 19 credits for the Other Major requirements.

Fall Semester: 13 credits Number Course Cr DES231 Design Studio I-A DES232 Design Studio I-B DES241 Technical Graphics I DES271 History of Design ART221 Drawing I

ART222 Drawing II ART332 History of Art or Modern Art GRA301 Intermediate Computer Graphics GRA302 Advanced Computer Graphics GRA342 Art of Illustration GRA351 Graphic Design I GRA352 Graphic Design II GRA432 Visual Perception MKT201 Introduction to Marketing GRA — GRA Elective GRA231 Design Studio I-A GRA232 Design Studio I-B GRA233 Design Studio II-A GRA234 Design Studio II-B GRA240 Sketching GRA241 Technical Graphics I ART251 Introduction to Computer Graphics MKT261 Introduction to Design GRA271 History of Design ART221 Drawing I PHO211 Photography ART — Art Elective

CHOOSE ONE OF TWO: I. Print Design GRA312 Printing Variables GRA411 Advanced Typography GRA451 Graphic Design III GRA452 Graphic Design IV GRA455 Advertising Design GRA462 Graphic Design Seminar GRA490 Graphic Design Internship II. Digital Design GRA481 Degital Media Seminar GRA482 Motion Design GRA484 Web Design GRA486 Advanced Interactive Design GRA487 3D Animation Techniques GRA490 Graphic Design Internship GRA499 Digital Media/Senior Study*


Spring Semester: 14 credits DES233 Design Studio II-A DES234 Design Studio II-B DES240 Sketching DES251 Introduction to Computer Graphics DES261 Introduction to Design INF201 Learning Resources Techniques Summer Modules I and II: 10 credits PHO211 Photography I — Art Elective* PED— Physical Education — General University Requirement Fall Semester: 16 credits DES331 Design Studio III 6 DES351 Computer Graphics I DES341 Technical Graphics II DES371 History of Architecture I DES361 Theory I Spring Semester: 16 credits DES332 Design Studio IV 6 DES352 Computer Graphics II DES342 Technical Graphics III DES372 History of Architecture II — General University Requirement Summer Modules I and II: 10 credits PED101 Basic Health — General University Requirement — General University Requirement — General University Requirement Fall Semester: 17 credits DES431 Design Studio V DES421 Design Technology DES401 Interior Design Workshop I — Art Elective — General University Requirement — General University Requirement Spring Semester: 14 credits DES432 Design Studio VI 5 DES422 Design Technology II — General University Requirement — General University Requirement DES402 Interior Design Workshop II**

* ** programs/bs-interior-design.php

Course Descriptions and Curriculums NDU: Bachelor Degree in Graphic Design Curriculum

NDU: Bachelor Degree in Fashion Design Curriculum



Fall Semester (15 Credits) FAP 211 Drawing I GDP 212 Design Principles I GDP 217 Conceptual Communication GER GER

Fall Semester (15 Credits) FAP 211 Drawing I GDP 212 Design Principles I FTP 214 Textile Technology FTP 212 TFashion Illustration I GER

Spring Semester (15 Credits) FAP 221 Drawing II GDP 222 Design Principles II GDP 223 Funamentals of Typofraphy GDP 227 Digital Media I GER Summer Semester (6 credits) GER GER Year TWO Fall Semester (15 Credits) GDP 315 Color & Illustration GDP317 Digital Media II GDP 322 Applied Typographic Design GDP 324 Photography GER Spring Semester (15 Credits) GDP 321 Visual Communication I GDP 323 History of Graphic Design GDP 371 Type Design GDP 372 Experimental Typography GER Year THREE Fall Semester (15 Credits) GDP 412 Packaging GDP 413 Print Management & Production GDP 415 Applied Branding for Design GDP 473 Arabic Type Design GDP 474 Mapping Information Spring Semester (15 Credits) GDP 423 Professional Practice & Portfolio Preparation GDP 476 Senior Studio in Typographic Deisgn GER Free Elective Free Elective

Spring Semester (15 Credits) GDP 222 Design Principles II FTP 224 History of Fashion Design FTP 222 Funamentals of Typofraphy FTP 229 fashion Design I GER Summer Semester (6 credits) GER GER Year TWO Fall Semester (15 Credits) FTP 314 Contemporary issue in fashion FTP 315 Fashion Studio I FTP 318 Patternmaking I FTP 319 Fashion Design II GER Spring Semester (15 Credits) FTP 326 Fashion Trends and Concepts FTP 325 Fashion Studio II FTP 378 PatternmakingII FTP 329 Fashion Design III GER Year THREE Fall Semester (15 Credits) FTP 415 Fashion Studio III FTP 418 PatternmakingIII FTP 419 Fashion Design IV GER Free Elective Spring Semester (15 Credits) FTP 423 Professional Practice & Marketing FTP 425 Fashion Studio IV FTP 428 Patternmaking IV GER Free Elective faad/desdep/bagd.htm

Course Descriptions and Curriculums

ALBA: Diplome in Interior Architecture and Product Design

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ALBA: Diplome in Graphic Design



Chapter one

Ira M. Lapidus. 2002, A History of Islamic Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Josef Wiesehöfer ; Azizeh Azodi (translator) (2001). Ancient Persia. London, New York: I.B. Tauris, Chapter one. Martin Kramer, “Arab Nationalism: Mistaken Identity,” Daedalus, 1993. Peter Mansfield, A History of the Middle East, Penguin Books 1991 Yasser Elsheshtawy, The Evolving Arab City: Tadition Modernity and Urban Development, Routledge New York, 2008 - chapter one Pierre Abi Saab, “ Arab Culture was under Threat before Globalization”, interview in -Dialogue with the Islamic World- 12 March 2009 John Tomlinson, Globalization and Culture, Polity Press in association with Blackwell Ltd. 1999 UNDP Arab Youth and the Millenium Development Goals, executive summary, 2005 UNESCO (1998a). Arab States Telecommunications Indicators. Paris: UNESCO. World Bank (1999). Education in the Middle East & North Africa: A strategy towards learning for development. Washington, DC: The World Bank. Fergany, N. (1995a). Strategic Issues of Education and Employment in Egypt. Cairo: Al-Mishkat Center for Research and Training. UNICEF (2000). State of the World’s Children 2000. New York: UNICEF. World Bank (nd). Claiming the future. Choosing prosperity in the Middle East and North Africa. Washington, DC: The World Bank. Watkins, K. (1999). Education now: Break the cycle of poverty. London: OXFAM. Ahmad Al Issa, Global English: Issues of Lnaguage Culture, and Identity in the Arab World, Journal of Educational Sciences, 2009


Chapter two Arts Nafas Art Magazine, september 2004, Christina Lindholm, Interview By Haupt & Binder nafas Nafas Art Magazine, september 2004, Richard E. Toscan, Interview, Interview By Haupt & Binder nafas Design Studies: Theory and Research in Graphic Design, Audrey Bennett, Princeton Architectural Press, New York. Chapter 17, A Step Ahead of Praxis: The Role of Design Problem Definition in Cultural Ownership of Design, Peter Martin, p.256-258 Nafas Art Magazine, september 2004, Dr. Marin Giesen, Dean of American University of Sgarjah, Interview By Haupt & Binder nafas news/archive/new_lau_school_focuses_ on_arch/ archive/versatility_and_refinement_at/

Chapter three

Chapter four

Form magazine 224 issue January/ February 2010 p. 50 - 52

Chapter five

Design Studies: Theory and Research in Graphic Design, Audrey Bennett, Princeton Architectural Press, New York. Chapter 17, A Step Ahead of Praxis: The Role of Design Problem Definition in Cultural Ownership of Design, Peter Martin Time Conception and Consumer Behaviour: some cross cultural implications, Paula Hayes, Judy C. Nixon, Judy F. West, Journal of Consumer Studies and Home Economics (1990) 14, p.15 -27

Heart of Beirut: Recaliming the Bourj, Samir Khalaf, Saqi Books, London 2006 Quantum City, Ayssar Arida, Architectural Press, 2002 Geert Hofstede™ Cultural Dimensions, Culture and the Structure of the International Hyperlink Network, George A. Barnett Eunjung Sung, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11(1), article 11, html Hospitality in the Middle East, Friedel Rother travel/articles/hospitality-in-the-middle-east. shtm Transit Beirut: New Writings and Images, Malu Halasa and Roseanne Saad Khalaf, Saqi Books, London 2004 Affording Meaning: Design Oriented Research from the Humanities and Social sciences, Julia Almquist and Julia Lupton, Design issues Volume 26, Number 1, Winter 2010 The ancient virtue of hospitality imposes duties on host and guest, Miriam Schulman and Amal Barkouki-Winter, Santa Clara University, http:// hospitality.html Travelers and Strangers: Hospitality in the Biblical World Dennis Bratcher, The Voice, http://www. Now Lebanon, NewsArchiveDetails.aspx?ID=38511

Appendix fea/ard/academics/curriculum. aspx html



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