Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar in partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Qatar Foundation hosted the last day of its biennial design conference Tasmeem Doha 2011 on Thursday, 24 March.
Tasmeem Doha 2011 – ‘Synapse: Designer as Link’ was open to the public and took place at VCUQatar from 21 to 24 March, 2011.
The afternoon session on the last day of Tasmeem began with a short presentation by ROTA (Reach Out to Asia) spokesperson on a project they had recently supported – a vocational school based in the town of Bayat in the Klaten District of Indonesia in their use of use the traditional art of batik and ceramics production to help preserve the region’s heritage and create opportunities for students and their families to contribute to the development of their community.
Bowman Heiden, innovation director of Qatar Science and Technology Park talked about designing innovation in the knowledge economy is his presentation. He offered a few perspectives to make better designers that he categorized under three groups – The Trees, The Forest of the Trees and The Value in the Unseen (where did the trees go?). In the Trees he talked about the industrial revolution and the changes it brought, but at the same time how it was difficult for developed nations who had been doing this for so long to see things in a different way. The Forest focused on how to do things and define what they are. “You have to be a little paranoid to be a design thinking person, wondering what could we have left out, but it’s also about learning by doing and thinking you can do better.” In the Value, Heiden said to understand a knowledge economy one needs to understand how value is created by intangible assets. He said the value of tangible assets in 1975 of the top 500 companies in the US stood at 83% and in 2005 the value of intangible assets was at 80%. “All physical things have intellectual dimensions and that has the value” he said. “In a knowledge economy the value of things is up to us, we breathe value into it.”
The four designers collaborating in TasmeemLab presented their designs, the ones they had worked on individually in live demonstrations and the one they came up with collectively on the last day, which combined design elements of each designer. This manifested in a landmark for students, their own design space, for them to go into to think quietly, that was not part of their daily classroom, library, cafeteria route. Product designer Younes Duret’s lamp design structure formed the model of the design as each unit could be taken apart. Graphic designers Richard Kahwagi and Manar al Mufta’s selection of the Arabic alphabet ‘Ain’ linked typography to functionality and formed the skeleton or shell of the space. Interior designer Khalid Shafar thought about the exit, entrance, accessories and furniture for the space formed from the same alphabet, that would create a structure that could be moved and didn’t look like an exhibition stand.
Alice Twemlow in her closing keynote address thanked everybody and said she had got much out of the experience of moderating the conference. “The positive attitude I see here in work, encounters and how issued are grappled with will leave a lasting impression.” The conference model works she said bringing together what goes on, on stage and in the workshops, which she listed into four categories – identifying issues, research and approaches, making and testing and display, and illustrated upon with various quotes and work examples from the Tasmeem speakers.
Muneera Spence and Pornprapha Phatanateacha made the closing remarks thanking Alice Twemlow for “tying it up really well indeed” and thanking faculty, staff, students and participants for their contribution in making the conference a success.