Life Style

Life Style: DIDI’s debut graduate exhibition displays innovative MENA minds

DUBAI: The Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI) launched its first graduate exhibition as its first intake of undergrad students from 2018 head into the world with their bachelor’s of design this summer. From fashion targeting children with tactile sensory disorders to virtual reality goggles that offer stressed users a meditative digital escape, the projects on show are nothing less than impressive.

The institute, which is found in the Dubai Design district in a 100,000-sq-ft facility, was launched in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Parsons School of Design. 

The school’s curriculum was conceived by MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, offering design-focused courses and others in fashion, multimedia, strategy, management and art. 

Ahead of the class of 2022’s graduation ceremony, the institute’s exhibition is being held in Building 7 at Design District 3 until June 5, showcasing next-level projects by 32 senior students.

The institute’s exhibition is being held in Building 7 at Design District 3. Supplied

“We are immensely proud of the caliber of our students and the thought-provoking works that are on public view,” said Mohammad Abdullah, president of DIDI, adding: “As the first intake of students to join our program and now the first to graduate, we have seen them undertake a remarkable and enlightening journey over the last four years to develop a heightened design and innovation driven mindset.”

Abdullah said: “The demand for bright, courageous, innovative, and empathetic minds has never been stronger, as we head to the fifth industrial revolution and see the working relationship between increasingly smart technologies and humans evolve yet further. Our students represent that future-focused cadre of thinkers, innovators and disruptors who will define the world of tomorrow and make an impact.”

From a fashion collection designed for children with tactile sensory disorders to an application which aims to support early to mid-stage dementia patients with reminiscence therapy using artificial intelligence and augmented reality, there is no shortage of mindblowing creations.

The school’s curriculum was conceived by MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning. Supplied

Jeddah-born design student Abdulaziz Zamil Alzamil, 22, is one of the two Saudi students graduating from DIDI this year. For his senior project, “The Application of Universal Laws Into the Design Process,” he dreamed up his very own methodology to better understand the relationship between universal law and design.

“The universal law is believed to be a set of principles that govern our universe mostly found in ancient books and teachings as well as philosophies. There are many books that portrayed their own principles. During my research, I looked at the different books and picked one in order to translate their principles into a design language that can positively impact design practices,” said Alzamil, who added that his project took nine months to complete.

The student came up with a unique design methodology, which he translated into a set of educational cards to aid him in the creation of two furniture pieces.

The two sets of cards, one for designers working on a completely new project and the second for designers working on an existing project, come enclosed in a black box and ask helpful questions that aim to streamline the design process. Along with the set of cards is a pack of sticky notes to attach to the back of each card after the designer narrows down their answers.

“It’s important for us as designers to refine our thoughts and set our intentions and goals for each project,” said the student. “As creators, whatever we’re going to produce is going to have certain effects on the environment or to the user. So it’s important to ask ourselves what causes or effects we want our product or service to have before we create something.”

Alzamil and his professor plan to publish the methodology and create a business model out of his strategy.

Other standout projects include “MindPlay” designed by Sana Mohamed, which is described as a product-service system for remotely monitoring and treating children diagnosed with ADHD by utilizing Brain-Computer Interface and eye-tracking technology to help the child to self-regulate their abnormal brain activity signals, improving attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms.

Also showcasing his work is Emirati student Nayef K. Al-Bastaki, who programmed his own virtual world in the metaverse accessible by VR goggles that serves as an idyllic and meditative digital escape for those seeking a sense of calm.

There was also a handful of projects that showed a myriad of perspectives on where fashion could go next. Supplied

In addition to the programs, applications, tools and prototypes trying to address pressing global issues, there was also a handful of projects that showed a myriad of perspectives on where fashion could go next, from a charitable NFT fashion collection to a sustainable clothing brand made from upcycled materials and second-hand garments designed to reduce fast fashion’s environmental impact.

“Label Unknown” by Lebanese student Tamara Samir Naoura hopes to eliminate the labeling imposed on people by allowing the wearer to decide what they want to write on their clothing tag.

“I wanted to create a brand that is inclusive and that everyone can resonate with,” explained the graduate student.

Additionally, all garments are customized to the user’s body rendering standardized sizing obsolete.

“The process began from observing how people feel like they can’t express their identity due to social expectations, and ‘Label Unknown’ aims to encourage people to deviate from that.”

Nouara added: “The outcome was heartwarming, especially seeing people wearing the garments and observing their reactions. The most important thing for me as a designer was to capture people’s confidence through my garments and that will be my main driving point for all the future collections.”

Hani Asfour, the institute’s dean, said: “This graduate exhibition is testimony to the hard work of our students and represents DIDI’s rich DNA for design-driven innovation. All the student projects seamlessly integrate design, technology and strategy, combining visuality with digitization and business methodologies.”

He added: “DIDI is fully aligned with the UAE’s recent educational reforms. We seek to further empower our youth as creative, independent thinkers and makers, and we are proud to be a part of this transformation as we prepare the next generation of changemakers.

“Our vision at DIDI is simple: to prepare students for a world where today’s jobs may not exist in the future.” But if the graduate exhibition is any indication, our future is in good hands.

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