CU LT I VAT I N G C R E AT I V E T H I N K I N G
“Soul Maker” at the Salone del Mobile MFA graduate work is presented at top international design fair. 2015 MFA in Design graduate Malaz Elgemiabby was invited to show her work as part of Wallpaper* magazine’s second edition of “Middle East Revealed“—an exhibition at this year’s Salone del Mobile in Milan, Italy. The magazine’s yearly exhibition was initiated in 2014 and aims to highlight the work of creatives hailing from across the Arab world. As the premiere international furniture and design fair, Salone del Mobile offered Elgemiabby’s project broad exposure in the company of some of today’s most innovative and interesting work in contemporary design. Her short video “Soul Maker” was screened in the Wallpaper* space. Filmed in Souq Waqif, the video features Elgemiabby fabricating concrete spheres that are filled with her own breath—the spheres themselves were also displayed at the fair. Her project was one of several outcomes comprising “Souvenirs”—a collaboration between two graduate-level design courses at VCUQatar led by Professors Paolo Cardini and Simone Muscolino in 2014.
Leading with LEED Interior Design pilots a course in sustainability with sponsorship from Qatar Green Building Council. When Dr. Cherif Amor first conceived of establishing an advisory
Aside from the Sustainability course, another valuable offshoot of
council for the Interior Design Department at VCUQatar, he believed it
the Advisory Board’s creation was the establishment of a direct
would provide a link between real world insight and pedagogical goals.
connection to the Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC). The goal
His vision came to fruition when a Sustainability course was taught by
of the QGBC is to drive “sustainable growth in Qatar through
an Advisory Board member during Summer 2015. This course provided
education and networking programs, demonstrating commitment
interior design students the opportunity to prepare for the Leadership
to a prosperous and sustainable future through cost-efficient and
in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Associate (GA)
environment-friendly building practices.” The partnership between the
exam. Following course completion, a total of ten students qualified
Interior Design Department and the QGBC has been exceptional, as
for this internationally-recognized certification.
was made evident when the Council offered sponsorship by providing
The Sustainability course found its impetus in what Dr. Amor calls a “trilogy” of goals—it began to address aspects of the Qatar
a 70% discount on course-related expenses. “The LEED certification is such a wonderful program,” says
National Vision (QNV) 2030 by focusing on the needs of today without
Dr. Amor, citing its focus on a variety of physical criteria from site
jeopardizing the needs of future generations, while it also met two
assessment to lighting. “It forces students to think not from a
of VCUQatar’s strategic goals—specifically, to offer more courses on
theoretical perspective, but from the perspective of application.
sustainability and to offer students learning opportunities that reach
The LEED program forces students to think not only as designers,
into the professional sphere.
but as human beings,” he adds.
Taught as a practicum, the course also enabled students to learn firsthand about the current construction industry, while it helped them to prepare for their future careers. Students simultaneously learned theoretical principles while they worked on actual projects. According to Dr. Amor, the experience “bridged the gap between theory and application, between academia and industry.”
Issue 4 — 33
Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar's annual magazine