Dezeen Magazine

Glass jars with flowers mounted on a white wall with a silver bracket

Virginia Commonwealth University presents 10 interior and design projects

Dezeen School Shows: a printmaking project exploring the artist's Qatari heritage and a multi-sensory flower installation are included in Dezeen's latest school show by students at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar.

Also included is a design for a future city informed by traditional housing and an interactive library that immerses young people in Arabic.

Virginia Commonwealth University

School: Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar)
Course: BFA and MFA 2023 Exhibition

School statement:

"How are today's young artists and designers in the Middle East expressing themselves and their experiences? What influences and inspires them? How do they represent the future of art and design in the region?

"VCUart Qatar's graduating class of 2023 answers these questions and more through the university's latest BFA and MFA Exhibition.

"Collectively titled Raw Talent, the exhibition offers thought-provoking snapshots of those habits, customs, rituals, concerns and issues that define our everyday and ordinary.

"The projects include spaces that promote animal rescue, social inclusion and immersive entertainment, as well as projects that explore indigenous rituals, dance forms and language.

"Also included are artworks that focus on clay cookware as a way for families to come together and the recreation of the traditional Islamic Mesbah prayer beads into a modern incarnation.

"The line-up of work produced by the senior BFA and MFA classes of 2023 was a stimulating and profound study of humanity and human behaviour."

An exhibition of student design work in a white gallery by Virginia Commonwealth University

Common Thread by Noof Al-Attaya

"Noof Al-Attaya's work expresses the aspirations and feelings entangled in her thoughts and releases them into the world as ideas on a material.

"She prefers to place everything from start to finish on a single canvas so one can observe the motion, time, marks, process, ink placement and intention.

"For her final show, she presented several works titled Common Thread that revolve around the colour blue, the ocean and her cultural identity as a Qatari artist."

Student: Noof Al-Attaya
Course: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking

A Virginia Commonwealth University student holding small H-shaped wooden models

The Living Legends of Sholoukh by Ayah Elnour

"Sholoukh, ritual face-scarring, is a dying art form in Sudan. In the past, sholoukh was seen as a 'passport' for a tribe member but it was not always applied by choice.

"Using just a razor blade, the most senior tribal elder would scar a person's face, initiating them into the tribe for life. As this tribal art form fades, the dwindling sholoukh bearers have become living legends in Sudan.

"To honour them, Elnour created a collage of images of scarred individuals. She also created a set of facial tools that enable a temporary experience of sholoukh, thereby preserving this Sudanese cultural treasure."

Student: Ayah Elnour
Course: Master of Fine Arts in Design

A wooden cabinet with three shelves filled with shoes and clothing

A Constructed Memoir: The History and Heritage of the Baloch Community in Qatar by Somaia Dorzadeh

"Dorzadeh's father was only a boy when he undertook a perilous journey from Iran to Qatar, looking for a better life. In Doha, he lived in the worker's camp on the outskirts of the city, Al Baluche.

"Camp residents were required to use only three materials – plywood, construction-grade lumber, and corrugated metal sheet – to build their houses, which were officially designated as temporary.

"Dorzadeh's work highlights the permanent-temporariness and hiddenness of the Baluchis in Qatar by constructing a series of cabinets using the same three basic materials used to build their 'temporary' homes."

Student: Somaia Dorzadeh
Course: Master of Fine Arts in Design

A white-walled booth with a wooden shelf as part of a student exhibition by Virginia Commonwealth University

Dhikir by Maha Al Mari

"Muslims practice three types of prayer – active prayer (Salah), spiritual prayer, and verbal prayer (Dhikir) – usually by reciting significant words to extol Allah.

"Over the years, products have been created for practising daily Dhikir, such as the traditional Mesbah made of beads and a plastic clicker ring that helps the user keep count of their daily Dhikir.

"Al Mari designed an innovative product that promotes and appreciates the value of daily Dhikr, a fidget object designed to be used by religious or non-religious people to meditate and practice their daily prayers."

Student: Maha Al Mari
Course: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

Five small engraved cubes on a silver chain worn by a person in black clothing

"Letter by Letter" Harf Harf by Latifa Al-Ali

"Highlighting the unique form and connectivity of Arabic, the Arabic letter beads (Harf Harf) provide a tangible and interactive tool for exploring the intricacies of Arabic script.

"The product responds to the limited availability of learning tools in the Arabic language. The wearable beads provide a new way for children and adults alike to play with the building blocks of the language.

"Through a rigorous process of material exploration and prototyping, Al-Ali developed the beads to allow users to see and feel the individual letterforms, explore the different ways of connection and unlock poetic potential."

Student: Latifa Al-Ali
Course: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

A wooden model of a dome-like building on a white shelf by a Virginia Commonwealth University student

Desert Metropolis by Mahnoor Tahir

"Tahir takes a speculative approach to a fictitious city in the Middle East. The city is set in the distant future and incorporates traditional housing and survival techniques of the past.

"Drawing from the rich cultural history of the region, the city reimagines and adapts these traditions to address contemporary challenges such as climate change and rapid urbanisation.

"By exploring how past generations have solved housing and survival problems with limited resources, this approach seeks to create a sustainable and resilient city that honours the past while embracing the future."

Student: Mahnoor Tahir
Course: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

Virginia Commonwealth University student display on technology and cinema

The Film House: Independent Art House Cinema in Qatar by Noora Al-Henzeb

"Al-Henzeb is a dreamer of endless possibilities when it comes to experiences and her ultimate goal as an interior designer is to not limit her design to functionality and aesthetics but to incorporate a special experience within it.

"Incorporating top technology, fluid spaces, vibrant colour and comfortable customised film-viewing spaces, her imagining of an innovative independent cinematic film house in Qatar is an inspiration for the film community in Qatar."

Student: Noora Al-Henzeb
Course: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design

Architectural model of a tilted white cube with Arabic lettering on the surface presented on a plinth at Virginia Commonwealth University

Kashkul: Multi-sensory Arab Language Centre for Arab Youth by Noor Alabdulmalik

"Alabdulmalik has created a template for an interactive library space for Arab youth to explore and immerse themselves in the Arab language.

"Her design incorporates a soothing neutral colour palette, curved walls and shelving, and ultra-modern seating. According to Alabdulmalik, it's not only about the destination, but it is largely about the ride.

"As an interior designer, she is keen that her work carries a message, conveys emotions that are relatable to a broader audience and is eager to experiment and push boundaries."

Student: Noor Alabdulmalik
Course: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design

A student installation display with fluffy white clouds and cartoon cut-out star characters

Above the Clouds by Aisha Al-Abdulla

"Aisha Al-Abdulla is a multidisciplinary artist who tells stories about her fictional characters and gets in touch with her inner child by using a combination of fantasy-narratives, world-building, Japanese animation, western cartoons and video games.

"Al-Abdulla's installation is based on her world, Above the Clouds, which exists beyond human reach and where creatures that look like women live.

"Al-Abdulla uses paper pulp to show how, despite her efforts to bring her fictional worlds into the material world, they could quickly disappear because of the fragility of the material."

Student: Aisha Al-Abdulla
Course: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking

Glass jars with flowers mounted on a white wall with a silver bracket

Happiness in the Air by AlMaha Al Mahmoud

"Al Mahmoud's work explores the concept of flowers and their specific meanings to the individual. Her installation includes flowers presented in various ways that encourage visitors to walk through to enjoy the scent.

"The installation also has mirrors that reflect space to make it seem larger than it is and also reflect the exhibition visitors walking through.

"She hopes to emit joy by inviting participants to see themselves reflected as flowers in the mirror. Hand-created perfumes that bring art and science together are also part of the experience."

Student: AlMaha Al Mahmoud
Course: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking

Partnership content

This school show is a partnership between Dezeen and Virginia Commonwealth University. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.