Rabia Wasi || Zehra Abidi
On 15th of March 2010, Dubai opened its doors to the Bastakia art fair (BAF), an annual art event now in its fourth year. Organized by the XVA Gallery and held in the houses of Bastakia, BAF is the only fringe art fair of Dubai, and focuses on promoting emerging Middle Eastern contemporary art.
The art event saw 17 traditional houses within the Bastakia open up for the public. Amongst the many exhibits at the BAF is TASMENAstudio. Tasmena is an interdisciplinary platform for people to connect, discuss, collaborate, learn and contribute to society through design and aims to explore designing changes. Its brainchild MENAlab consisted of a series of 8 individual labs where participants got hands-on experience by top design professionals from around the world. The topic “Designing Change” saw both designers and non designers come together for an intensive 5 day program.
This year saw Manipal’s own, Professor Indira Barve, of the Interior Design Department take part in the workshop. As part of Lab 6, called “Scripts for 5 days of site analysis,” Ms. Indira comments that participants were required to incorporate in their design, “changes through the traces that people leave behind.” They used waste materials such as wood, bricks, nails, etc. from construction sites and tried to capture the essence of change through not only sights, but also sounds and smells.
MENAlab also saw large student participation from different disciplines of design. Alia Abdulla, a 3rd year student of graphic design at Zayed University, recounts, “I was a part of Lab 2. We tried to show changes through the concept of space. We compared Satwa and Shiekh Zayed Road. Satwa is very crowded, whereas, Sheikh Zayed is more relaxed with lots of coffee shops.”
Danya Ibrahim, a multimedia design graduate was a part of Lab1, whose topic was ‘Global Citizenship through Design’. Recollecting the experience of working on the project, Danya says, “The experience was great working for this lab because it works directly with society, humans and their needs. Things we start to neglect but because of this lab we start to think. So over all it was quite eye opening, it was a great experience.
MENAlab encourages not only designers but non designers as well. Saif Bin Adhed, a Finance student at Wollongong University, was a part of Lab 8. “Tasmena’s main aim was to make anyone participate in designing. It is about any kind of art. It does not matter if you are professional or not.”
Yunsun Chung-shin, Director of Tasmena and a professor of Graphic Design at Zayed University, explains that Tasmena is a platform for “incubating, nurturing the next generation who can eventually lead this with their own ideas.”