Design Disco x CAS Trips Spring Camp

20 May 2018
Interview by Kevin Loo

This Spring, Design Disco partnered with CAS Trips to host students from schools all over the world. As part of the trip, these schools participated in team-building, community engagement and city tour activities for 10 days. It was an immersive opportunity for the high schoolers to meet other students from all over the world, make new friends, and learn new skills.

As DD, we hosted Instagram walks around the centre of Prague and design workshops using 'Puzzle Furniture' designed by our very own Bachir Benkirane and Ani Bojadžjan. These products were designed to be modular and encourage students to think about innovative designs to address various problems around the household/their environment. It was also made of MDF to emphasise the importance of using recyclable materials for sustainable practice in design. The question was, " What if we were able to assemble and customize furniture with a smaller footprint to our environment?" It was a hands-on, team experience and we had heaps of fun teaching these enthusiastic students about design!

We asked one student, Amen Fasil, to give us more of his thoughts about the whole CAS x Design Disco experience! Here's what he had to say about it.

Tell us about yourself! Where do you come from? What’s your school like?
Hey! My name is Amen and I am 17 years old. For the majority of my life I have been learning, living and eating in Uganda but i am originally Ethiopian, like the rest of my family. The school I go to is called Aga Khan High School Kampala and it’s an amazing ball of excitement and a generally motivating place to learn and make friends with. My school is open to new ideas and the students there are mostly innovative and curious, making everyday school life very interesting.

How did you get involved with CAS Trips? What kind of activities were involved?
It was actually my school which brought up Spring CAS Trips during our orientation for the introduction to our IB diploma years. It was something new the school was trying to introduce to us: a kind of new approach to look at CAS and to learn from our trip so we could be inspired from it and implement it in what we do back home. Some examples of the activities we did were cooking for a homeless shelter, touring Prague, creating innovative designs for a kindergarten, gardening at a local farm and so many more!

Which did you enjoy most?
I have to say I enjoyed the tour of the city the most. History was something that I had loved ever since I was a child and to walk through streets where, at some point, great things, things that changed the perspective of the world happened brought a kind of joy and rush to me that can’t really be explained. I also equally enjoyed the magazine-selling activity because it was a very new experience for me in the sense that i had to look at a perspective I could not see before, which was to look at it from a person suffering through poverty. The main reason this was such a huge activity was that I would take what I learnt here wherever i go, and it would motivate me to help people who aren't as privileged as I am.

What did you learn in the Design Disco workshop?
The Design Disco was one of the more unique activities I undertook. I learnt so much from the teachers there! I learnt the significance of simplicity and that it carries a beauty of its own, and for a complex and overthinking mind like that the idea was very… hard to understand until I saw it for myself.

What did you build?
My team built a multi-purpose bookshelf called “elf on a shelf” (the bad name was my idea) where we used two elements to create a bookshelf suitable for  kindergarten to use.

Had you thought about design and architecture before?
I did when I was younger but the idea kind of drifted away when I shifted my focus from art. I've always had a love for building and innovating things so with my experience talking to the people at Design Disco made me remember how amazing and diverse this area could be. Design Disco brought back something that I loved and for that I will never forget.

How can you see these ideas applied in your school/city?
Well, in my country there is a sense of bland architecture and a fear of expression through art for the majority. I remember someone in my class saying the buildings in Uganda were built by engineers, not architects. My city could really need some more expression and a feeling of history through many aspects such as the buildings the same way Prague brings out history in its architecture. Also, my new perspective on art and design would allow me to look at and work on my school projects as well as any new idea that pops up in my head with a completely new outlook and passion. With a network of friends I had made within the workshop and at CAS trips I definitely will try to implement the design and structure of pieces of art to express themselves in a stronger and more beautiful sort of way.

Did you enjoy the workshops? Why (or why not)?
It's almost impossible to say no to that! (To make it clear, I loved the workshops!) The workshops that we went through have given me experiences i've had with my friends and as an individual an outlook on the completely diverse and fresh way of thinking that they gave us is a gift i can never truly repay the people at CAS trips and the people behind the Workshops. I can never truly forget anything that i had done here because the workshops showed me a sides of me that i thought never existed. Some skills and talents were hidden and undeveloped until I went there. The workshops gave me a drive for adventure and the confidence to try new things because who knows? Maybe I might like them!