UAE – American University in Dubai (AUD) and security and access solutions firm Dormakaba collaborated to invite students to contribute to EXPO 2020.
The spark to create this idea came from one of the AUD students Tania Mary George who collaborated with Simon Beckers of Dormakaba to create designs for EXPO 2020 Opportunity and Sustainability Pavilions. They wanted to translate the design philosophy of the pavilions to the lever handles. “The only object you touch in a building is the Lever Handle. The design concept of the building should be conveyed through touch and feel.”
Seeing the exciting results of this collaboration, Prof. Kristin Lee of AUD forwarded the proposal to Prof. Chadi El Tabbah. Prof. Kristin and Prof. Chadi saw the opportunity to involve their Interior Design Class and almost overnight merged the project into the curriculum. The objective was to create design proposals of lever handles for EXPO 2020 Mobility Pavilion. What followed was a series of interactions between dormakaba and the students, under the guiding leadership of Prof. Chadi. This inspired the students to create bespoke design proposals.
The hard work of long days and nights culminated in the exciting competition session on 29 May at the AUD campus. Each student was given five minutes for the pitch and time for open questions from the Jury. The Jury consisted of eminent personalities – Uros Markovic – Head of Architecture, MERAAS Holding, Mr. Ignacio Nieto De La Cal – Founder & Director of IN Architects and Adjunct faculty of AUD School of Architecture, Art & Design, Dr. Dolly Daou – Director of APID (Association of Professional Interior Designers) and Dr. Georges Kachaamy – The Chair and Associate Professor of Architecture AUD.
The student’s presentations mesmerised the audience with bold and out of the box design proposals of lever handles which reflected the design of the Mobility Pavilion involving defying gravity, essential tensions, fluid & dynamic and form follows function.
All proposals had to involve abstract research philosophy, design statement, ergonomics and anthropometrical considerations and specifications of the materials & finishes. dormakaba supported the students by printing the 3D samples of the proposals to make the presentations realistic with touch and feel. The Jury had a tough time in choosing the winners as all the designs were bespoke in design and challenging convention.
The first prize was won by Salwa Hassan who emphasized that design is not what it looks like, but design is what it makes you feel. Her design emphasized on organic form conveying the feel of a secure hand.
The second prize was won by Lena Kinj whose proposal resembled waves corresponding the position of the fingers when touching a door handle leaving memorable feelings.
The third prize was won Nour al Jaroudi. Taking a que out of her name ‘Nour’ which means light in Arabic – bringing happiness, light, joy and energy – she reflected this as the spirit of EXPO 2020 and brought this out well in her lever handle design.
Speaking on the occasion, Uros Markovic of MERAAS said: “It was a privilege to adjudicate the AUD/Dormakaba competition for design of the bespoke door handle for Expo 2020. The young men and women of 2017 class of AUD Interior design have shown great courage and determination in presenting their designs that epitomize the Dubai spirit of forever striving forward. Their presentations were well articulated, with confidence and professionalism beyond their years. It was truly both rewarding and humbling experience.
A great future awaits these students and I encourage them to be brave, to follow their dreams and always strive for excellence.”
Next generation of designers
Commenting on the upcoming competition, George Philip Vice President dormakaba Marketing Europe, Middle East & Africa said: “We at dormakaba are always looking at innovative ways to introduce designs that have a global benchmark and a local appeal. We are delighted to invite young minds to share with us some futuristic designs that we could propose for the upcoming Mobility Pavilion for Dubai Expo 2020. We would like to compliment the vision of EXPO 2020 Dubai by bringing in world class standards and inviting the youth to partner with us. We want them to contribute by adding the local flavour for a sustainable cultural identity in line with the design philosophy of the pavilions.”
Chadi El Tabbah, associate professor of interior design led this project said: “Product to serve the human behaviour” was our target, and our collaboration with dormakaba, the leading company on security solutions and products have challenged our students to balance the ergonomic and the practical applications, the result was a distinctive design, the process was intense research, statements, modelling and a lot of passion. During this journey, each student was a unique individual, they all learned how to be sensitive to how people experience products and recognize the emotional connection to their surroundings.
The project capitalized on some of the key strengths of AUD’s internationally recognized ID program: having a foot in the future, sensitivity to the human factor in design, integration of the ergonomic and technical, the need for differentiation through relevant distinctiveness… Student ability to analyze, conceive and express was challenged to the maximum, and their design education was furthered significantly by exposure to dormakaba, the leader in security solutions.”
AUD aims to present these students’ design proposals to EXPO 2020 Dubai.