American University of Sharjah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 5485-5490
ISBN: 978-84-608-5617-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2016.0318
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
Students entering their first year of design education at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) in the United Arab Emirates come from as many as 20 different high school curriculums and represent well over 30 different nationalities. Their exposure to art and design range from having no exposure at all to having two or more years of drawing and art experience throughout high school. The effort of getting everyone to a unified understanding of the material and equivalent technical abilities necessary for them to excel in their major is a daunting task. Through a carefully orchestrated repertoire of project based design exercises, students begin to uncover their talent and creativity in a common language that aims to produce proficiency and build bridges across cultures.

This paper explores ways in which beginning design education can challenge preconceived ideas and transform familiar objects into a complex network of line, shape, pattern and texture. Design education begins with uncovering hidden relationships that exist in everyday objects and environments. Depending on one’s culture, previous experience or education, designed objects and environments can often mean or represent different things. This paper will examine how a diversity of ideas can resonate in a single composition and inform a process of discovery. Through a common agenda, students participate in discussions and create visual narratives that challenge the literal and explore ideas in unexpected and playful ways.

The process of analyzing and transforming the familiar is critical to the success of creative discovery and learning. It is the first step to looking beyond the surface of things to uncover broader meanings and associations. The introduction and exploration of the various media and tools of representation along with idea development necessitates continual reassessment and modification. The iterative nature of exploration starts with abstraction and interpretation and conclude through some form of reconfiguration. The necessity to maintain a level of consistency and quality of outcomes throughout the process requires a serious commitment of time and energy. Questioning and critique among peers is encouraged. The importance of sharing outcomes as ideas develop is an essential part the process of group and self-assessment. The paper will conclude by addressing the expectations of a common experience that celebrates the diversity of intentions to produce a thriving design culture.