MOUSHARAKA: ICOGRADA DESIGN WEEK IN QATAR WRAP UP

12 March 2009
Doha (Qatar) - Hosted in collaboration with Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, Mousharaka: Icograda Design Week in Qatar unfolded from 28 February – 5 March 2009.
Doha (Qatar) - Hosted in collaboration with Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, Mousharaka: Icograda Design Week in Qatar unfolded from 28 February - 5 March 2009. Bringing together practitioners, scholars, and students across design disciplines, cultures and regions to build bridges and raise awareness, the week-long event was an opportunity for dialogue and building connections necessary to achieve the full potential of design in the Gulf region, and to explore the importance of collaboration both within the region and on a global scale.

The Design Week opened with the Education Symposium. Eight accomplished design educators shared their perspectives on design and design collaboration during the course of the three-day conference. The topics varied as each presenter explored these concepts from their unique point of view and according to their own experiences. Brocket Horne, co-chair of graphic design at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, USA spoke about the value of design as a process. The objects we create, she expressed, are only as valuable as the process we use to create them. Ian Grout, who teaches Product Design at The Glasgow School of Art, talked about designing design education and its aspects as a collaborative activity.

Following the theme of the Design Week, students engaged in two-day workshops as part of the Education Symposium. These workshops which were facilitated by the speakers, allowing the students to work together and create projects, which were then presented to the audience at the end of the two-day symposium.

In the spirit of collaboration, VCU Qatar spearheaded a formative meeting of MEDEA - the Middle East Design Educators Association. Its objective was to gather perspectives on issues related to design and design education in the region and to discuss ways that an educators association could build capacity and collaboration within the design community.

The Professional Conference offered four keynote speakers and eight prominent presenters examining different facets of design and design collaborations. These presenters took the audience on a journey, mining cultural, geographic and historical contexts while consistently upholding the spirit of collaboration. The opening keynote by Qatari architect Ibrahim Jaidah presented Doha’s Sharq Village and Spa (which hosted many of the conference speakers and delegates) as a prime example of Mousharaka. Mario Gagliardi, CEO of the newly established Design Zone Qatar, discussed design as a conversation with a situation and offered the audience a glimpse of the Qatar Foundation's vision for the first global creative hub in the Gulf region. Mark Kingwell, a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, focused urban spaces and the evolving understanding of the city, using Paris (past), New York (present) and Shanghai (future) as examples.

On 3 March 2009, a highlight of the Professional Conference was the first ever Design Debate Doha, an opportunity for the design community to address an important global design issue in a debate format. The motion for consideration was, "This house believes 'Globalisation harmfully subverts culturally unique sensibilities,'" and the much anticipated event drew a full house for the evening.

Panelists for the motion included Rick Poynor, writer and design critic from the United Kingdom; Dr. Sami Angawi, Founder and General Director of the AMAR Center in Saudi Arabia, and Australian educator and designer, Russell Kennedy. Panelists against the motion were Qatari architect Ibrahim Jaidah; Roger Mandle, Head of the Qatar Museums Authority; and from the Netherlands, Petra Blaisse, founder of design studio Inside Outside.  Both sides put forward compelling arguments and the audience had a chance to challenge the speakers by expressing their concerns and asking difficult questions in relation to this international cultural phenomenon, both at present as well as in the future.

Indian filmmaker Mira Nair offered the closing keynote on 5 March, including a showing of her contribution to the feature film '8'. Nair's segment 'How Can it Be' is one of eight six-minute short films from internationally acclaimed directors each addressing a UN Millennium Development Goal. 'How can it Be' explores gender equality through the true story of a woman making difficult choices about marriage, family and independence.

The Icograda Design Week in Qatar was a successful endeavor on many levels. Delegates attending the Design Week were unanimous in commenting on the experiences of the six day event. The quality and diversity of all the presentations were consistently excellent, providing ample food for thought and a visual feast for the eye.  The event was also a significant accomplishment for Icograda since this was the first Design Week in an Arab speaking country. The unique regional dynamics of the event offered new insight into the region and opened the door to new connections and future opportunities for collaboration.



Read additional coverage
South Africa's DESIGN> magazine, a member of the IDMN, has published a detailed account of the Design Week's proceedings at designmagazine.co.za

Contribute your images
If you attended Mousharaka: Icograda Design Week in Qatar, upload and share your images on the event page on Facebook.