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Designing for social impact with MA Interior and Spatial Design

Image is a digital design of the Oval Office. There is a white ceiling, 8 doors all open and the walls are designed using thin metal piping manipulated into shapes, there are large gaps between each piping, where a view of the gardens outside are in view. The carpet is grass, and twigs and trees are growing from the outside in. The furniture is also grass and blends into the carpet.
  • Written byGina Lampen
  • Published date23 October 2021
Image is a digital design of the Oval Office. There is a white ceiling, 8 doors all open and the walls are designed using thin metal piping manipulated into shapes, there are large gaps between each piping, where a view of the gardens outside are in view. The carpet is grass, and twigs and trees are growing from the outside in. The furniture is also grass and blends into the carpet.
nterior Shot, Oval Office 2021
MA Interior and Spatial Design, Camberwell College of Arts, UAL | Photograph: Meyyadah Hameed

Aia Sakr and Mayyadah Hameed graduated from MA Interior and Spatial Design this summer.

Their final Showcase submissions are both politically inspired: Aia’s project The Pledge is motivated by the ongoing crisis in Beirut and Mayyadah’s project The Democratic Room seeks spatial solutions to bring democracy into the US Oval office.

We interviewed Aia and Mayyadah, who reflected on their year amidst a pandemic and their future plans.

MA interior and Spatial Design
Pen and Ink Well 2021
MA Interior and Spatial Design, Camberwell College of Arts, UAL | Photograph: Aia Sakr

Aia Sakr

Tell us about your showcase submission, The Pledge.

The Pledge is informed and motivated by the socio-economic, political and social climate of Beirut.

More than a year after the devastating port explosion on 4 August 2020, Beirut has far from recovered. The victims’ families have not been met with reparations, and investigations into the explosion have yielded no answers. The situation in the country has rapidly deteriorated as the economy plummets, reaching what the World Bank has referred to as one of the world’s worst economical collapses since 1850.

The city, once renowned through history for its rich and lively culture, has now become eponymous with chaos.

This project stands as a pledge for Beirut's inhabitants to engage with the city in time and to heal the destroyed spaces and begin a better future.

This research explores the complex landscape of Beirut to address the ruin and decay of spaces as the result of direct and intentional human action and renew the connection between the city and its inhabitants.

Image is of a wooden structure; the structure is made up of components which slot together. The structure sits against a plain white background.
Building Blocks 2021
MA Interior and Spatial Design, Camberwell College of Arts, UAL | Photograph: Aia Sakr

How has your practice developed and adapted during the pandemic?

Designing during this pandemic has been quite a challenging process. The experience has helped me readjust the scale of my work, pushing me to focus on smaller scales of intervention. I allowed myself to embrace the human desire to connect and looked to create spatial modifiers that would invite and encourage human interaction in these strange and lonely times.

During COVID times, it is undeniable that social media has been an important resource in feeling connected to the rest of the world. It has also become an important tool in the learning of and fighting injustices. This has inspired my work to take on a more socio-political approach, matching my own personal values and bringing me closer to the kind of designer I want to be.

Image is a digital design of different components being created to make the finished objects for the project. 20 different components can be seen in total floating against a dark blue background.
Collection 2021
MA Interior and Spatial Design, Camberwell College of Arts, UAL | Photograph: Aia Sakr

What did you enjoy most about studying MA Interior and Spatial Design?

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about MA Interior and Spatial Design has been the wide range of interdisciplinary collaboration and the different backgrounds within our cohort. Being surrounded by so many different cultures, design aesthetics and paths of life have led to well-rounded and in-depth discussions on the directions of our respective projects.


We have also had the opportunity to take on outside competitions and projects, which have exposed us to fieldwork and the process of designing competition proposals and creating exhibitions. These experiences have given us the opportunity to gain exposure and practice within possible future fields of work.

Image is a digital design of 3 sets of joints. There is a grey boarder, which divides the image into 3 sections. Inside each section is an example of a joints. The joints are black against a white background.
Building Blocks: Joints 2021
MA Interior and Spatial Design, Camberwell College of Arts, UAL | Photograph: Aia Sakr

What are your future plans now you have graduated?

I am looking forward to continuing my exploration of the relationship between socio-politics and design and creating socially engaged designs to address injustices.

In September, I produced and exhibited a collaborative installation titled “Of Hestia” examining the different domestic roles at play within the home, a project which was the recipient of the Julia Dwyer Award

In the future I would like to work further in urbanism and be a part of a collaborative design studio with a wide reach to try my hand at different types of design, such as stage and set design, public space interventions, and furniture design.

Digital design of an interior room. The outline of the room is curved, there are 4 windows, whilst 6 people dressed in suits sit on grass chairs.
The Democratic Room 2021
MA Interior and Spatial Design, Camberwell College of Arts, UAL | Photograph: Meyyadah Hameed

Mayyadah Hameed

Tell us about your showcase submission, The Democratic Room

The Democratic Room is a conceptual project that reconstructed the power dynamics in the famous Oval Office (the formal working office space of the president of the United States, the White House, in Washington DC).

The purpose of the project is to make the Oval Office more democratic by its spatial and furniture design through achieving specific qualities which are: connectivity, transparency, modernity and equality by nature. I also aim to make the office visible to the people not only through media but physically as well.

The digital image shows a part exterior of a curved building. The outside area is surrounded by greenery which also flows through the open doors and into the building. There is a curved path taking you around the building and the sun is shining down causing shadows on the pathway. In the distance you can see more greenery and trees.
Exterior Shot – The Democratic Room 2021
MA Interior and Spatial Design, Camberwell College of Arts, UAL | Photograph: Meyyadah Hameed

Each element and furniture piece in the room offers an equal opportunity for all - the President, advisors, politicians, guests, and the public - to interact and inhabit the space.

Democracy was achieved in the room by letting the surrounding nature freely enter the room by bringing the outside in and the inside out in a physical and conceptual way.

Each element and piece of furniture in the room offers an equal opportunity for all: the presidents, advisors, politicians, guests, and the public to interact and inhabit the space. This democratic design aims to be the unspoken domination and hierarchy that are made by furniture and encourage more transparency in the workplace and political institutions.

The digital image shows an interior of a curved building. The floor is made of grass which flows through the external doors and outside into the gardens. There are chairs made of grass which match the floor. Centred and against the wall is a fireplace with logs in and unlit. There are some bottles sitting on the fireplace.
Interior Shot – The Democratic Room 2021
MA Interior and Spatial Design, Camberwell College of Arts, UAL | Photograph: Meyyadah Hameed

How has your practice adapted and developed through the pandemic?

Working during the pandemic was not easy but it was enjoyable. It has helped me be more organised, more focused and has pushed me to be more independent in finding my sources and inspirations.

What have you enjoyed most about studying MA Interior and Spatial Design at Camberwell College of Arts?

The study environment at Camberwell College of Arts is so liberal that you can always think outside of the box. It offers tutors with different backgrounds and a diverse student community.

Image is a digital design of the exterior of a curved building. The building is white, with two sets of patio doors. One set of doors are open. The doors lead to a brown path and the building and path are surrounded by greenery with trees in the distance. The sun is peeping through the trees.
Exterior Shot – The Democratic House
MA Interior and Spatial Design, Camberwell College of Arts, UAL | Photograph: Meyyadah Hameed

What are your future plans now you have graduated?

Currently, I am working on different sized architectural and interior design projects in Baghdad, Iraq and Egypt.

I am also hoping to work within the product and furniture design industry as this field has started to be a passion of mine too.