Wednesday, January 13, 2010

'We learn everything from history - this doesn't mean we have to duplicate it'...




This fine dictum of the title above was stated by the Finnish architect Juha Leiviska a few decades back (similar statements have been made by others, but this is the only one I can recall the author of)... It formed as both the catalyst and a encapsulation of the spirit in which this project was pursued. For this final project the students, all Graphic Design majors, were asked to:

A) Explore a feature, tradition, design, ceremony etc. which they consider to be an inherent component of Kuwaiti or middle-eastern culture...

B) Define it, understand it, and...

C) ...Develop a contemporary, more updated, rendition of it which needed to include a text or presentation component as well as a 'designed' element...

Images of some of the results, accompanied by brief project descriptions, are shown above and below...


Top and above - An updated rendition of Sadu weaving, here appropriated into the format of Op-Art. The disc is made from a rigid plastic sheet roughly 30 cm in diameter...


Above and below - A dessert where 'gahwa' (Arabic coffee) is combined with an Italian pudding to form something unique and also, flavour-wise, quite delicious...



Above - A project exploring the key role formerly occupied by the 'Al-Kandary' - the 'water bearer', who used to deliver water to various residential quarters. Here the, now often forgotten, role and value of water in this region is reconfigured as a carry-with-you water bottle which precious content can only be accessed by unwinding a long paper strip containing a narrative explaining the extended effort that was required in the not too distant past to get sweet-water to Kuwait (it was usually imported by boat from Iraq)...


Above and below - A study which aims to update the three key forms of calligraphy into a more contemporary format, here realized by interpreting various 'pictorial' male and female names through the appropriated typographical mediums...



Above - An updated and novel use of henna as a natural means for cooling the body, along with it also functioning as a way to decorate the (now both male and) female extremities...


Above - A research project into the role of dates in regional culture. The cover is made out of dried leaves from a date tree...


Above and below - This project takes various both everyday practical as well as more celebratory outfits from Kuwait's past and reinterprets them in a contemporary context. Some of the outfits were modelled on small hand-made rag-dolls...



Above and below - A project that examined and documented traditions and uses of 'Bukhour' - middle-eastern incense, which can be used not only to change the ambiance of a space through a fragrance but also as a way to perfume one's body and clothes (achieved by letting the aromatic smoke pass through one's clothes). The final hand-in included a number of 'peel-and-smell' (seen below) samples of various bukhours and oudhs...


Unfortunately this was the last class I taught at KU... I wish all my students, both present and past, the best of luck with all their academic and other pursuits... Remember, focus, persevere and don't dilly-dally...

4 comments:

Zaydoun said...

Brillian stuff... where are they now?

Thomas said...

Who, the students or the work..?! The students are all still still at KU, as they have one more term to complete before graduation, and the class-work shown on the blog is currently with me, being reviewed for their final grades...

miti said...

incredibly inspiring. I have collected over the years (from an al-kandari ;)) different samples of Boukhoor and now have more from my trip! Incense always renews a place, cleanses of the past, brings fragrant reminders of the here and now. Thank you for your vision, as sen through your incredible students' work.

Thomas said...

They are a talented bunch, aren't they... Thank you for your vote of confidence...

Tom