The Mariam Dawood School of Visual Art and Design (SVAD) at Beaconhouse National University (BNU) brought together one week of sophisticated play wh

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The Mariam Dawood School of Visual Art and Design (SVAD) at Beaconhouse National University (BNU) brought together one week of sophisticated play where academic and practical aspects of art and design came together only to fusillade out to a bigger picture.


SVAD is known for its promising commitment to cross disciplinary arts and continued belief in the contribution artists and designers make to the world. Under the complex mesh of contemporary art and design practice, the academic philosophy at SVAD is a composite of an alternative palate of media magnetised by progressive world-views.


This year’s SVAD Degree show paralleled a Design Summit Prologue and the Nothing Festival – all three coming together to engage a vast array of audience to the pleasant decadence of the culmination of intellect, skill and emerging talent, all directed towards establishing ideas and addressing concerns of the zeitgeist of the 21st century.


The week long ordeal began with the opening of the Degree Show on April 21st, 2018, which was nothing less than a manifestation of seasoned ideas, developed over four years of extensively guided study and great instruction by advisors, where it was left to the students to add pizazz. With work of over sixty seven students of fine art, visual communication design, textile, fashion and jewellery collectively, SVAD successfully nursed its twelfth batch into their professional lives.


Displayed on two floors, the degree show was subjected to various lenses ranging from artists, designers, collectors, critics and academics. The space is simple, which allowed the viewers to immerse themselves in the artwork on display and to develop their own interpretations, as none of the works came with attached descriptions. The abstracts were clairvoyant but open-ended. The layout orchestrated audience movement around the building with the same flow and fluidity that could be seen in the work. The fine art and visual communication design theses transcended traditional media and ideologies and appropriated them towards a more contemporary approach were space was made to perform, hybridity was highlighted and advanced technology was incorporated; with students experimenting with light, mobile aps, augmented and virtual realities and common objects in ostranenie. These elements made the art work more relevant and key to comprehension of the need to produce artwork of such tastes. The textile, fashion and jewelry design works also blew the trumpet on the intricacies of production, giving outstanding end results.


While there was a lot of emphasis on taking the unconventional route to art production, there were elements with hints of reminiscence, where textile and jewelry design students tackled into craft and skill revival. It is natural for one to express surprise, but not bafflement. However, with fine art addressing architectural concerns, fashion design voicing personal constructs and communication design defamiliarising regular audiences, the big debate of purpose, definition and dynamics sparks to whether this was a deliberate attempt meant to break down the barriers between disciplines, underscoring the importance of collaboration or whether students organically set their own perimeters too far by taking up a nouvelle vague approach leading to alternate resolutions, or lack thereof in some cases.


In either case, it is important at this point to take pride in the event of the phenomenal outcome but also realize the importance of striking a balance between the endless possibilities and considering the dynamics of the Pakistani context and the restriction of practical life. Needless to say, this experimental approach has successfully broken boundaries and set superior standards to show statements can happen in any media and that SVAD, as in institution, has set grounds for providing a great platform to equip students to experiment and prepare for more evolved interests.


Following the thesis display was the Design summit 01 – Prologue, hosted on April 22nd, 2018 in collaboration with Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), aimed at not just exposing but also connecting an assortment of multidiciplinary professionals and new talent to bridge gaps relying on the generosity of the pre-empitive wisdom of connoisseurs and nuance practitioners. The prologue was presented as a whollistic approach intended towards synergizing the design industry with the academia for a more open-minded and liberated dialogue, featuring a cross-disciplinary mindset to set new cultures in light of the larger contexts and relative global scenarios, with excelling professionals and their insight and awareness of its juxtaposition with the local context.


The prologue embarked with an exordium on “Design and Planetarity”, a concept note by Dr. Ijlal Muzaffar, a veteran theorist and critic. The note brought to light the understanding of the term planetarity as the step ahead of globalization where the dynamics of the world coming together go beyond the realm of design limitations, despite their endless possibilities. The note commented on the need to humbly orient, continuously progress and deliberately expand with the growing demands and changing requirements of the trend. This set the premise for the exchange of dialogue, voicing fundamental questions and design concerns to instigate thought processes and critical analysis fueling further contribution to a scholarly conversation in in any possible field of practice.


The lineup of over sixty highly qualified speakers, randomly sprinkled four rooms, tickled the curiosity and fascination of many individuals who are not only aware of the social sensibilities of exposing themselves to multi-disciplinary parallels but are also staggering for collaborative resolution. Many, in light of their own fields, spoke about how this is not the time for a one man show approach and how this had to be perceived as a collective effort. Most presentations, coming from computer science, architecture, academia, information technology, research, entrepreneurship, art and related design and filmmaking backgrounds broadly, could faintly be concluded to the idea that collaboration may ipso facto be the biggest problem, whilst being the only solution to deal with the current angle of the design framework. It may be the most ideal gimmick for planetarity and the design context relationship to find a natural point of convergence.


While the Design Summit Prologue remained very lucrative and forward in orienting future design concerns and sparking the interest and knack for serious measures, SVAD decided to wring the tendency to a more candid tone with Nothing Festival, from the 23rd – 17th April, 2018, After its success last year, the second edition of the festival sought to a more nonchalant slant on the idea of “without”, building up on the notion of not using existing stimuli as starting points, or points of reference in a discourse. The concept spans out of understanding that the need for the other arises when we are without one – that is to say approaching concepts of routine with newer, alternate and dynamic awareness when put in the design equation. With another similarly successful and qualified lineup of speakers, the interactive sessions burst for idea generation without social commentary, political motivations, philosophical energies, industrial influences and personal association.


While, to many, the idea sounded fancy on an intellectual level, others didn’t merit it as constructive. But in the irony of the situation where learning is made more experiential, reflective, balanced and enhanced, it is ultimately “without” realizing the undertone of the derivative understanding that soo many creative minds came together to redefine, construct and resolve design representations to put forward without consciously knowing it is happening. It is not the end result that measures the success, it is the process that leads to it.



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