MFA in Design, Class Marshal
There’s a lot on my plate, but it’s a very tasty plate.
Who are you, and where are you from?
When people ask me that question, I usually reply –– from Wakra, because I was born and raised here, so I see Wakra as my homeplace. But my roots are in Bangladesh and although we do travel back and forth, it is not so much as to mention it as a part of my identity.
How did you end up in VCUarts Qatar and what direction did you choose once here?
I’ve had a creative flair throughout my school years, I took part in a lot of painting competitions and that’s pretty much what I knew about art for almost 12 years of my schooling. When it came time to apply for colleges, I faced family pressure to follow my brothers’ footsteps into engineering and accountancy. But my brother encouraged me to and helped me apply to VCU because I was creative.
During my art foundation year, I realized there’s so much more about art and design, it’s not just painting. After much research and educated contemplation, I picked graphic design because it offered the opportunity to branch out and figure myself out and decide which aspect of graphic design I wanted to focus on. If I had to go back and change my decision, I would still pick graphic design because the range is so broad.
My senior year I took a course with Maryam Al-Homaid about 3D printing and 3D prototyping and I realized that I really want to go into making physical stuff, like industrial design. I didn’t have the funding opportunities to pursue options abroad, but I knew the MFA offered a multi-disciplinary program and that a lot of what MFA does could be considered a smaller scale industrial design, and also Covid happened, so I decided that I might as well make the best out of my life and go for MFA here.
Innovation in design doesn’t really happen much in Islam because it is such a sensitive topic. And, I wouldn’t say I’m a religious designer, I just observed a problem with my dad and that’s what I wanted to really solve, so it started as a chair design, then a prosthetic, then the idea evolved as I worked to solve the problem, and I focused on the process of ablution.
The Prophet PBUH (Peace Be Upon Him) would use about 650ml of water to perform ablution, which is basically, in terms of scale, 2 Pepsi cans. People now use about 5–7 liters – a massive shift and a really staggering number. Wastage is prohibited in Islam. But, if you go to the washroom, you see people performing ablution, there’s a pool of water all around and its really messy. And, I thought why not make a device that can help people use the same amount of water as the Prophet PBUH (Peace Be Upon Him) used, because at the end of the day, we’re supposed to follow The Prophet PBUH (Peace Be Upon Him) and the things He was doing. This topic not only goes into Islam and connecting people back into its roots, but also sustainability.
And that is one of my proudest achievements, that I can give back to VCU for helping me — now I’m helping them back.
Final thoughts for peers
To the students I’d say, don’t wait until you graduate to start applying your design skills professionally. Design is constantly changing, and this is one of the only fields where it changes and it gets applied and it changes again. What you learn in your freshman year isn’t the same anymore by the end of your senior year. So, as soon as you’re doing your design start applying it in the real world, as a client or as a hobby project, so that you’re constantly polishing your skillset. And, by the time you graduate, you already know how to use what you’ve studied.
To faculty, I’d say, sometimes work on the projects you assign to students so that you understand how hard it is.
The RAW Talent