Sheikha Latifa honours region’s first batch of design graduates

Students from Dubai Institute of Design & Innovation put forth projects that span the health and fashion industries

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In 2018, when the Dubai Institute of Design & Innovation opened its doors, its dean at the time, Sass Brown, told The National: “Design has a much more important role in business, and designers are becoming part of the research and development process.”

This week, DIDI celebrates its first crop of graduates, who received their bachelor of design (also the first degree of its kind in the region) at a ceremony held at the Museum of the Future on Monday. Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and member of the Dubai Council, was on hand to confer the certificates and interact with the aspiring designers.

Hailing from all over the Mena region, as well as India, Pakistan and South Africa, the student-designers have dreamt up, worked on and realised some ground-breaking ideas over the past four years.

Ayesha Abdulla Al Suwaidi and Shamma Ibrahim Al Mulla, for instance, created MiFloof, a cheery yellow phygital companion, which assists children in developing emotional regulation skills.

Improving the quality of children’s lives was also top of mind for Nikhilesh Mohan, Sana Elmardi Mohamed, Maha Khalid Baseed and Vaidehi Pal.

Mohan built a visual stimulation device to assist teachers and therapists to engage better with children who suffer from low vision, in a bid to boost participation, while Mohamed’s MindPlay is a headset and app that explore how the gamification of neurofeedback therapy can support the treatment of ADHD.

Baseed and Pal worked together to explore the behavioural patterns and choices of children with autism when they are exposed to different textures of clothing. The results of the study showed that most experienced fabric sensitivity, embellishment issues and fastening difficulties.

Accordingly, the duo created a collection of garments with Velcro fastening, QR code tags, magnetic buttons and elastic waistbands.

Another fashion-forward idea, called the Customisation of High Heels using 3D Printing Technology, was put forth by Sara Nael Alnajadawi. The project uses a three-step process that includes pressure identification tests, scanning and 3D-printing to redesign a woman’s pre-existing pair of high heels or create new, more comfortable ones.

Finally, with the metaverse on everyone’s mind, DIDI design student Nayef Faisal Albastaki took it a step forward and proposed a metaverse space that will promote feelings of comfort and safety in virtual worlds, for those still not comfortable or savvy with this parallel universe.

“The graduation of the first bachelor's of design class from DIDI represents another milestone in our progress towards a vibrant creative economy [for which] we need to make sure the infrastructure and the right programmes and institutions are in place for creatives to develop, grow and flourish. This is not only for our community in Dubai, but for the region and beyond," Sheikha Latifa said.

The ceremony was also attended by Malek Al Malek, director general of the Dubai Development Authority and chairman of DIDI; Hala Badri, director general of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority; Mohammad Abdullah, president of DIDI; Rachel Schreiber, executive dean of Parsons School of Design; Hani Asfour, dean of DIDI.

Updated: June 08, 2022, 7:18 AM