ATÖLYE Dubai is excited to announce a new discourse series called Negative Space, a fearless exploration into the conversations we are not having around Arab identity in contemporary design. In this 5-part feature, we challenge our roles as designers in shaping a collective cultural identity, paying close attention to what’s missing, and imagining what could be.
Hosted by Alya Al Noaimi and Farah Sabobeh, each episode invites a panel of regional creative leaders, scholars and thinkers to explore one of five design languages—visual, written, spatial, moving, and social. Together, we try to better understand where we have fallen short in telling our story to the world.
Episode 1: Visual Language
In the first episode, we’ll explore our visual language, from graphic design and illustration to the visual communication that surrounds us. How are we shaping the visual expression of the Arab world, and what legacy are we leaving behind? What are we afraid of not creating?
Join us alongside guest panelists Salem Al-Qassimi (founder, Fikra Design), Wael Morcos (founder, Morcos Key), and Hussa Al Humaidhi (founder, Nuqat) to dig deep into the themes of cliché imagery, representation, and cultural disdain.
In contrast with other formats, Negative Space is purposely designed to ignite interactive debate and deliberation between hosts, attendees and speakers alike – so bring your devil’s advocate and watch the sparks fly!
About the Hosts
Alya Alnoaimi is an innovation advisor and design strategist based in Abu Dhabi, and holds an MS in Strategic Design and Management from Parsons School of Design. Her interest lies in leading people to make impactful changes that transcend cultural, geographical and disciplinary barriers.
Farah Sabobeh is an architect specialized in developing projects in the fields of culture, design and diplomacy. She holds a Master in Strategic Design of Spaces from IE in Madrid and is passionate about design thinking and impacting communities through design. Farah believes in the power of design to boost transformation and provide sustainable solutions across sectors, locally and internationally.
About the Panelists
Wael Morcos is a graphic designer and type designer from Beirut, Lebanon and a partner at the Brooklyn based design studio Morcos Key. Upon receiving his BA in Graphic Design from Notre Dame University (Lebanon), he spent three years developing identities and Arabic-Latin bilingual typefaces, in addition to working in print and exhibition design. Wael received his MFA from RISD in 2013, before founding Morcos Key. Wael has been featured in Print Magazine’s 15 under 30, was named a Young Gun by the Art Directors Club and an Ascender by the Type Directors Club. The studio’s clients include the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, MoMA, Nike, The Public Theatre and the Sharjah Architecture Triennial.
Salem Al-Qassimi is the Founder and Principal of Fikra — a design-led educational platform that comprises Fikra Design Studio (est. 2006), Fikra Campus (est. 2017), and the Fikra Graphic Design Biennial (est. 2018). He is a multidisciplinary graphic designer, educator, and entrepreneur. He served as an instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design, an Assistant Professor of Design at the American University of Sharjah, and more recently Adjunct Assistant Professor of Design and Photography at the New York University Abu Dhabi. Salem has also won several international awards, namely the Type Directors Club (TDC), and protoType at Typecon2016, and participated in a number of exhibitions both in the UAE and abroad.
Hussa Al Humaidhi participated in the fields of civil activism, cultural activation, branding and music. She attained her bachelors from AUB (The American University of Beirut) in 2007. In 2009, she founded “Raw Design Studio” as a partner and brand strategist, focusing on brand strategy development, visual language & brand culture. She is also a co-founder and partner of “Nuqat” a non-profit organization for cultural development in the Middle East, and was leading the organization as Knowledge Director. In 2008 she co-founded a civil-society organization called “SoutAlkuwait” for constitutional awareness and civic rights. Recently, Hussa’s music & sound interests have routed her to explore sound studies and the exploration of Kuwaiti music and composing. www.instagram.com/hhumaidhi