Monday, 20 December 2010

So you win a design award in Germany, you get some money, you move to Lebanon and get a job... so now what?

It's always like that isn't it? You work on something for a whole year, day in and day out, just striving to get to the top (but mostly to get through the day without a mental breakdown), and then to your surprise, you reach it. It's there. All for you. So you dwell in your own self-flattering glory for a while, you enjoy the frivolous surge of compliments you receive, and you feel like a winner. But how long before that becomes a thing of the past, and you suddenly feel like time is passing by and your not doing anything? Well for me, 2 months.

Don't get me wrong, Im not sitting at home eating ice cream out of a tub and watching RomComs all day. No, I have a great job, with an impressive title (design research consultant - ooooh). I have a great boss, who doesn't think that thinking all day about great ideas and writing about them is a waste of time. I have work colleagues who can bare me for 9 hours a day. I also have a plan.

As I got my current job due to my work on design in the Middle East, I am currently setting up, with Maya Karanouh- CEO of TAGbrands, the MENA Design Research Center -just as my master thesis proposed. So right now, Im writing for our new blog (which of course I will share with you my non-existent reader). We're also going to be working on some international projects, all for the sake of creating awareness about the power of design as a multidisciplinary agent of development and innovation. Although, currently we are a small team, I have high hopes for the work we will be doing, and looking forward to more collaboration with brilliant designers who believe in design research - a much needed field for the MENA region.

Eventually, I want to get into design education and further develop my own research, perhaps for a PhD? But thats's not happening anytime soon as I'd rather stick to my job for a while, it feels good not to be a student -finally :)


Sunday, 10 October 2010

Master Thesis Published

 After months of blogging abstinence, Im back at renewing this page on a weekly basis. The work on my master thesis 'Design Education in the Middle East' has paid off. I will be receiving an award for it in Cologne in 2 weeks. The book is now available upon request.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

A project for designers in Lebanon

I am currently organizing an independent underground project for all current and ex design students in Lebanon. There are already a few people involved, and i'm hoping for a few more. The brief is asking for each group or individual to make a statement about the change they want to see in their country through means of public design intervention. Those who are interested to know more can search for the name of this project on facebook, as it is the current communication platform for all participants.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Ethnographic Research Methodologies for Designers

Since the 1980's design educators have been trying to integrate concepts from other disciplines (literature, rhetorics, semantics, semiotics, sociology, psychology...) to form a design discourse which could push for design to be recognized as a field with a strong theoretic backbone; one that educates students to think of the intrinsic value of design in social context rather than just prepare them for the trade. In those terms, research takes center stage by backing up the design decisions and presenting them on solid ground instead of justifying them purely on a designer's creative intuition and aesthetic taste.

For my master thesis on Design Education in the Middle East, I have decided to base my research on qualitative ethnographic methodologies. Ethnography is an approach developed by the social sciences to aid the study of everyday culture through people, their behavior, and the ways in which they interact with the world. An ethnographer produces knowledge through observation of interactions. Most importantly, ethnography is a qualitative method of research, meaning that it does not rely on quantitative -numerical or statistical- data. 

Some examples of ethnographic techniques are participant observation (e.g. using a video camera in a certain setting), non-participant observation (e.g. using hidden cameras), interviews (preferably semi-structured open-ended questions and based on previous observation), and artefact studies (e.g. cultural probes).

I will employ some of these methods for my research with students and educators involved in design education in the Middle East. This will help assess more clearly where the problems in the system lie and how they could be dealt with. 

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Finally, the research proposal published online!

As i have not posted anything since the beginning of writing my research proposal, i thought it is about time my work so far could be viewed. Here you can find the research proposal that i presented to my professors in the Koeln International School of Design. Currently, I am working on my master thesis on this topic, i'll keep you all posted. For those of you who actually do read it, your comments would be most appreciated.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

where exactly is the Middle East??

I started writing my research proposal on Design Education in the Middle East and my first task was to define exactly where the borders of the Middle East region lie. I came across an article which caught my sarcasm, and I had to include it as the first paragraph.
In June 2006 at the height of the Anglo-American sponsored Israeli siege of Lebanon, the U.S. Secretary of State and the Israeli Prime Minister heralded the introduction and conceptualization of the term “New Middle East”, which was introduced by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in replacement of the older and more imposing term, the “Greater Middle East” -advocated earlier by the Bush administration. Indeed within the same month, Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters, a retired colonel of the U.S. National War Academy, drew an enlightening picture of this “New Middle East” and had it published in the Armed Forces Journal. The following map is his work, which was complemented with the sub title:

“Blood Borders: How a Better Middle East would Look”.

I think I will stick to the more traditional Eurocentric terminology- ‘the Middle East’, first published in September1902 in the National Review by Alfred Mahan, a United States Navy flag officer.

The Middle East is a territory covering 16 countries and states in northeastern Africa and southwestern Asia. The countries are: Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the West Bank/ Gaza Strip, and Yemen.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

I've been ill for the past few days, and haven't been able to do much reading or writing, so i thought of an initial design for a logo, if design education in the middle east were to have one. happy holidays...