Final-year graphic design students unveiled their senior projects to the public in an exhibition that showcased their talent, design skills, and creativity. Hosted by the Department of Art & Design on both Beirut and Byblos campuses, GEN- represented the culmination of the students’ journey at LAU, during which they were challenged in their final year to create socially conscious work in diverse media.
This year’s exhibition was exceptional in that it combined two promotions of students –graduates of 2018 and 2019 – due to the shift of the degree from a BS to a BFA.
While the projects varied in approach and perspective, they all reflected the students’ acute social awareness, and their incentive to highlight contemporary, humanitarian, psychological and environmental issues. The result was a vibrant assortment ranging from a board game that helps children deal with grief and death, a 3D animation on Arabic literature intended to kindle the youth’s interest in their culture and identity, and a website raising awareness among young adults about the life of a 19-year-old, Leila, in occupied Palestine, among many others.
“In addition to the design output students are also critically involved in conveying an experience and a message to the public,” said Art and Design Chairperson and Associate Professor Randa Abdel Baki. “They are challenged to examine and unravel complexities, and communicate a unique visual experience that draws on everything they have learned, from publication, animation, typography, web design, to app and responsive design.”
To achieve this, during their entire senior year, the students immerse themselves in introspection and investigation, research and analyze their concepts, and interview experts in their chosen topic. At the mid- and end-review stages of their project, external jurors, consisting of specialists in the relevant fields – social workers, psychologists, doctors, educators – are brought in to give them feedback. Through these open channels with professionals, in addition to the requisite internships, the students get to hone their “research, critical thinking, and practical skills, and graduate as practitioners,” said Abdel Baki.
For the students, the exhibition is both “a celebration and an opportunity to reflect on their experience,” remarked Associate Professor Melissa Plourde Khoury, a time when they also receive recognition for their hard work.
Accordingly, the Certificate of Excellence in Graphic Design was granted to three high-achieving graduates: Georges Hanna, Aya Hassoun and Sara Nassar. Hanna, along with five other peers – Riwan Eid, Nour Hraiby, Karine Soubra, Sarah Abdel Jalil and Michele Sabty – had also completed the ‘Adopt a Creative’ internship program at advertising agency Leo Burnett and each received recognition for their work while there. The awards for excellence were supplied by Information Technology Group Lebanon.
Aptly named GEN-, for “generating ideas, concepts and outcomes, which then led to generating words that could be linked to the field and the students,” according to Practice Lecturer Maria Bahous, the exhibit also benefited from the contribution of the publication class to the catalog, from its conception to execution.
Innovation through technology and vision, in fact, are what distinguish the Graphic Design program at LAU, which was among the first to answer to “the need for effective branding, contemporary publications and new media. It was, and remains, a leading model for design education in the region,” as mentioned by Dean Elie Haddad.
Testament to that are the awards alumni and current students of the program have received time and time again at regional and international forums, and the regular selection of student work, as well as the program itself, as one of the best in the region at the Dubai Lynx Awards.