Apr 18, 2012
Zelda Harrison

XCD Student Showcase: CAAD goes to Il Salone

The CAAD-AUS showcase at SaloneSatellite!

Graduation is in the air and in the spirit of the season, the XCD revisits its student showcase, featuring the work of aspiring professionals from the global design community. This post features the work of eight students and recent alumni from the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at the American University of Sharjah (AUS). Opening this week, CAAD will have the honour of being the first design school from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to exhibit at the prestigious SaloneSatellite in Milan, Italy (April 17 – 22, 2012).

Created in 1998 in Milan, SaloneSatellite counts as one of the most exciting gatherings of promising young designers. It’s the first international event to focus on young talent, attracting prominent design houses, manufacturers, the press and the general public. Many of the prototypes presented in previous editions have gone into production, launching successful careers in design.

CAAD was invited to join approximately 700 young designers and 18 international design schools. Eight furniture pieces designed and built by CAAD students will be on display; they issue from courses in Furniture Design Basics and the recently launched Furniture and Graphics taught by Professors Bill Sarnecky and Amir Berbic.

“After teaching beginning furniture design…, I teamed up this past semester with Amir Berbic to teach a new course entitled Form, Furniture and Graphics. Students in the course were encouraged to explore the potentially reciprocal relationship between two-dimensional graphics and three-dimensional form…” said Sarnecky.
Berbic adds, “In some examples of student work, typographic patterns became a skin for the piece of furniture, while in others, the form of letters was the shaping element. Students from both the architecture and design department enrolled in the course and the unique conditions of the course resulted in a hybrid between 2D and 3D design.”

Incidentally, the CAAD pieces on exhibit were designed by women (AUS is a co-educational institution) of Middle Eastern heritage. We share their thoughts and influences below:


Palestinian Rasha Dakkak, reflects a desire to shape visual culture in a way that best represents the Arab modern identity through her work entitled “Veto.” The table’s form is derived from a cross-sectional transformation of the Arabic word la (meaning refusal, denial or disbelief) into kalla (indicating strong disapproval, protest or objection). The concept is inspired by dissent expressed in the Arab world during the Arab Spring revolutions.



Emirati Sarah Alagroobi’s project “Amal’s Prayer Chair” originates from her desire to aid her late grandmother and mother who struggled to pray in the prostrate position. According to Islamic tradition, those who cannot physically endure prostration may pray in a sitting position. The typographic pattern on the skin of the chair is derived from the Arabic letter kaf and refers to the “The Throne” (Ayatul-Kirsi), a powerful verse in the Holy Quran. The verse states: “His Chair doth extend, Over the heavens And the Earth…” This chair rocks to aid in the act of praying.



Maha Habib’s “The Thinker’s Chair,” was inspired by Rodin’s masterpiece “The Thinker.” The arching support compels a person to sit in a similar fashion as The Thinker, whose uncomfortable and tortured pose suggests a difficult intellectual struggle. The weaving pattern of text on the surface responds to grid lines established by the wood laminations, and refers to Dante’s Divine Comedy, Rodin’s original theme for the sculpture.



In her entry entitled “Phoenician Reading Table,” Noor Jarrah’s is inspired by the Phoenician alphabet, one of the earliest forms of writing. The table surface engraved with Phoenician letterforms provides a base for Latin script emerging from a new, “modern” tablet. The tablet ultimately supports a book in the open reading position.



Syrian Ghenwa Soucar’s entry entitled “De-lamination Table” consists of four layers that appear to delaminate like a flexed deck of playing cards. Each of the four layers consist of three laminations of red oak that were steam bent, then glue laminated to lock in the final form.



The polycarbonate panels of Heba Hammad’s table entitled “Candelabra,” originally responded to the ritual of burning candles. The cells of the panels would define pathways for the resulting wax trails. During the design and construction process, the piece evolved into a celebration of its own existence as a minimalist and transparent object.



Danah Al Kubaisy, from Saudi Arabia, explores eruption as a formal quality in “D-Bench,” and the deregulation of a rational ordering system along its length. The piece consists of 36 3mm-thick hand-shaped aluminum bars fastened with machine screws to a welded aluminum tube frame. The piece was sandblasted after fabrication and assembly.



Starting with a triangular unit, Bahraini Marwa Abdulla Hasan’s “Mesh Table” gradually transforms from a 2D surface pattern toward relief and ultimately into 3D form. A combination of chiseling and hand-held routing with jig and template were used to achieve the pattern condition on the wood.

The selection reflects the academic vision and institutional goals of the College of Architecture, Art and Design at AUS; design faculty and students have a history of making that has contributed significantly to the regional and international material culture. As CAAD Dean Peter Di Sabatino notes, “It is very much an honor, and very gratifying, to be sharing the creative voice, and the creative energy, of the Middle East in such a significant, global venue.”

About AUS
American University of Sharjah (AUS) was founded in 1997 by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. AUS is a not-for-profit, independent, institution of higher education formed on the American model. It offers 25 majors and 52 minors at the undergraduate level, and 14 master’s degrees through the College of Architecture, Art and Design; the College of Arts and Sciences; the College of Engineering; and the School of Business and Management. These programs are designed to meet the challenges of a competitive and dynamic business and industrial environment.
For more information, please contact Nazzal Yousef, Director of Media Relations.
Check out previous XCD showcase student work at this link
If you are a student and would like to share your experiences or showcase your graduating work, email us.

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