Interactive & Inclusive Spatial Experiences

How might we foster intercultural communication skills in the interaction design classroom? How might we support productive design collaborations between students in North America and the Middle East? These questions were the driving force behind a project that brought together students at VCUarts Qatar with students enrolled in Kelly Murdoch-Kitt’s design course at the University of Michigan. Organized into cross-cultural teams, students participated in a seven-week intensive dedicated to considering audiences, physical spaces, and interactions in a contrasting culture.

The project brief asked teams to reimagine existing spaces in order to foster dialogue, encourage play between strangers, promote cultural awareness, or celebrate cultural diversity. Brainstorming, visual documentation, and prototyping are just some of the project’s design-based methods. The findings indicate that creative cross-cultural co-production holds great promise for students in terms of learning to constructively deal with conflict, thrive in ambiguous situations, and value diversity.

The results of the intercultural design teams’ collaboration were recently featured on the Stamps School of Art and Design Website. Read the article to learn about student perceptions of this intercultural experience, and check out some of the video prototypes below.

Wishing Upon A Star is a multilingual platform that highlights similarities between two people from completely different walks of life. We hope to make people take a moment to think about their personal aspirations and to share them with the universe while being inspired by the thoughts and dreams of others.

VCUQ: Maha Al-Sulaiti, Sarah Aweida, Kamla Al-Sulaiti, Latifa Alkuwari, Bothaina Al-Qaisi

UM: Andrew Hwang

Luminous Connection’s mission is to promote awareness and connectivity between the people of Ann Arbor and Doha through projections of light and color. Our site-specific installations will explore aspects of our audience’s essence and existence— both of which comprise a people’s identity.

VCUQ: Aaquifa Altaf, Sarah Al-Afifi, Hind Al-Kuwari, Sarah Elawad

UM: Rachel Krasnick, Andrew Lopes

Creative Union aims to bridge gaps between Christianity and Islam through an installation incorporating Arabic and English religious verses and poetry within Qatar Foundation’s Ceremonial Court. While this place is beautiful, it looks hard and doesn’t encourage visitors to sit and enjoy it. This space should encourage people to interact, spend time there, and bridge cultures.

VCUQ: Maha Al-Naemi, Alanoud Al-Khater

UM: Sara Ciaramella

Bioluminescence gives stressed-out students a playful and accessible place to unwind. The proposed interactive environments will also link Qatar Foundation with the University of Michigan via technological activities that promote enjoyable experiences for both groups of students, such as interactive silhouettes and an integrated responsive sound feature.

VCUQ: Maryam Al-Mudahka, Hissa Albaker, Wadha Alhassan

UM: Minjee Kim