HoneyQueen, a little Bengali restaurant in Doha is getting a makeover thanks to VCUQatar GDES students winning 2nd place in the Wajha Project Competition! This regional honor and achievement was announced on March 25 during a live broadcast from Amman-Jordan, where Wajha founders Ali AlMasri and Hussein Alazaat announced the final results to a live and virtual audience.
‘Wajha’ is an independent social initiative that uses design and branding knowledge to help local communities in the Arab Region by offering design services for free. The Wajha competition was announced in December 2016 and invited designers from the Arab region to find a shop in need for a new design but that could not afford expenses.
Senior Graphic Design students Rabeya Khatoon, Alisha Saiyed, Aisha AlSaad and Muneera Al-Obaidan have won second place in this first regional competition of its kind. The top three winners will receive funding to implement the final design and will work with the shop-owner to introduce the new visual identity.
The project was part of graphic design faculty members Denielle Emans and Basma Hamdy’s collaboration in their two senior electives “Design for Social Innovation” and “Arabic Type Design” in the Fall of 2016. The course collaboration generated projects focused on social change in a bilingual context. One of the initiatives of the class was to redesign the shopfronts of the businesses outside of Gate 3 in Education City and one of the project requirements was submitting to the Wajha competition.
Colloquially known as a “cafeteria”, Honey Queen is a small “hole-in-the wall” restaurant that offers simple, wholesome Bangladeshi cuisine. Serving food from the kitchen just like at home, the restaurant is well known for its Nihari, a special meat stew, as well as its more homely dishes. Fresh ingredients and affordable prices ensure a daily crowd.
To rebrand this little restaurant, the students and faculty took a human-centered approach to create a dynamic brand identity that would reflect its authenticity and atmosphere. They hope this rebrand will cater not only to Honey Queen’s existing clientele, but also open the doors to a variety of customers.
Honey Queen is one of the myriad small businesses of Al Shagab Street in the Old Al Rayyan Area at the edge of Education City. Home to car washes, tailors, and juice shops, the neighborhood is a mute testimony to the area’s growth and transformation.
The students and faculty have been researching and documenting the shifting spaces and forgotten walls of Al Shagab Street, and an exhibition called “Shifting Spaces & Forgotten Walls” took place at Art29 at the W Doha Hotel from March 20 – 26 with photographs and videos of the people and places of the area.