The assignment was to design a catalog of student projects for the VCUQatar bi-annual art and design conference called Tasmeem. The projects were based on the conference theme ‘playfulness’ as expressed by the Arabizi word 3ajeeb! (ahh-jhee-b) meaning “strange in a strange way, cool in a cool way, and slightly weird in a slightly weird way”. The projects were from both VCUarts Richmond USA, and VCUQatar campuses and included more than 400 participants. The goal of the catalog was to energize and inspire conference attendees.
The approach was to design a system that would allow all the student work to function on the same level of quality and visual interest. This process became a sort of "3ajeebifier" through which nearly any image could reach the level of 3ajeeb.The original project documentation, statements and information were all catalogued on the web which allowed the print publication to focus on visually inspirational graphics, asking participants to consider the "present and the potential of the future." By applying the conference theme to the process and final form of the catalog, this design attempts to "show not tell" the conference participants the true meaning of 3ajeeb!
The result was very well received, and the client could not have been happier. The conference attendees loved the publication and it generated many great conversations as a result. No copies were left behind by conference attendees, which is an indicator of a successful design. The biggest victory was the perforated mask that is in the cover. The die-cut section shows through to the screen printed neon vinyl publication title and when punched out becomes a traditional (but 3ajeebified) Islamic face covering called the batula. The batula is generally worn by older women in the gulf region. It is a style that is no longer popular, as it is not being carried forwards by younger generations. This 3ajeeb reinterpretation of the traditional form is a way to bring forward some Islamic cultural traditions of the past to a new, hip, international art and design audience.