Region’s first Graphic Design Biennial being launched by Sharjah-based Fikra

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Sharjah will be the venue of the region’s first Graphic Design Biennial, conceived and launched by Fikra Design, headed by Salem Al-Qassimi, Founder and Principal.

The Fikra Graphic Design Biennial 2018 is set to open in Sharjah on November 9, 2018, and run until the end of the month and will be held across several locations in the UAE.

Recently, the Biennial organizers announced that the inaugural edition will be held under the theme ‘Ministry of Design,’ proposing an exploration of graphic design’s influence in shaping the present and imagining the future.

The ‘Fikra Graphic Design Biennial 2018: Ministry of Graphic Design’ concept draws its inspiration from the innovative governmental structures within the UAE, such as the Ministry of State for Happiness and the Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence. The fictional yet familiar format of a ‘Ministry of State’ will facilitate innovative and nuanced thinking about graphic design and its influences on public opinion, entrepreneurship, culture, and society at large.

The Ministry will include several Departments, each curating their unique analytical focus within graphic design. These Departments include the Department of Graphic Optimism, Department of Dematerializing Language, Department of Non-Binaries, Department of Flying Saucers, and Department of Mapping Margins.

Departure point for dialogue

The Graphic Design Biennial creates a departure point for dialogue, research, and thinking within the field. Anchored in Sharjah, but with a reach into the wider region and beyond, the Biennial will offer a global platform to shed light on the role of graphic design in the 21st century.

The theme and departments centered around a Ministry for graphic design were chosen to help catalog and exhibit existing graphic design works; to workshop real-world problems and theoretical questions, and to create speculative designs that project future scenarios and solutions for the discipline.

“We are excited to launch this first-of-its-kind, international graphic design biennial in the region. We envisaged creating a graphic design biennial for both professionals and the general public alike,” said Salem Al-Qassimi, Founder and Principal of Fikra, and Director of the Fikra Graphic Design Biennial, speaking to the media.

“The event aims to communicate the importance of graphic design as a practice and help designers understand it better. More importantly, I think that it is crucial to have a representation of this region in the discourse related to graphic design practice across the globe. It is equally important for us to carry forward our ideas, culture, and narrative.”

Biennial team

The Biennial team consists of Salem Al-Qassimi, Founder, and Principal of Fikra and Director of Fikra Graphic Design Biennial; Maryam Al Qassimi, Principal of Fikra and Co-Director of the Fikra Graphic Design Biennial; Eleonora Cervellera, Head of Programming and Partnerships; as well as internationally renowned designers as Artistic Directors for the inaugural edition of the Biennial: Emily Smith, Na Kim, and Prem Krishnamurthy.

The trio of Artistic Directors will be supported by a team of curators.

Krishnamurthy, Smith, and Kim commented: “Fikra Graphic Design Biennial proposes graphic design as an integral part of contemporary public life. Although it forms nearly every medium, message, and communication we encounter, graphic design is often overlooked as the mere commercial production of visual surfaces for existing ideas. The Biennial looks at the expanded field of graphic design, in which designers play a crucial role in tasks as diverse as entrepreneurial development, content generation, image-making, strategic thinking, form-giving, project distribution, life-cycle planning, and policy creation. Today’s graphic designers are both artists and facilitators: through their sustained presence, expertise, intuition, and insight, they help to shape products and processes alike.”

The Fikra Graphic Design Biennial will take place in November 2018 and will be held across several locations in the UAE.

Additionally, the team includes an advisory committee of prominent and leading experts such as Dr. Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès, Pascal Zoghbi, Kiyonori Muroga, Catherine Ince, and Uzma Rizvi.