For humanity.



{Before reading, just a fair warning that this post is a little different from the rest.}

You see, I said this blog would be about "simply everything and more," but there's so much I don't cover. So many thoughts, so many rants, so many dreams, so many questions...that I just don't write about. Is it because some topics are sensitive and I'm not sure how people will react? Is it because this blog is professional and somethings just don't belong here? Is it because somethings are better left unsaid?

The truth is, I don't know. I just stick to my comfortable areas of discussion and I think that's fine, but one thing has been bugging me. It isn't about design, fashion, photography, or my usual blog post subjects.

It's about humanity.

I don't know why I haven't written about how much my heart aches every time I log on to Facebook and see posts about the number of children/women/men/people dying around the world everyday. Have I no heart? Have I no soul? Or is it because maybe I just don't know how to put these thoughts into words.

Here it goes.

See, when I first checked the "Bachelor of Architecture" box on my college application for my degree, I'm not going to lie, I thought I was going to save the world through design. Then, slowly, I realized that I could help people live BETTER through design, but I might not be able to SAVE the whole world. I could be a little PIECE of that dream, because the truth is, my part won't do ALL the work. Other people are needed. People with fresh skills and talents. People with dreams and ambitions. But most importantly, people with hearts that ache when they see the state of the world.

People who take a second to reflect.

I am so very far from being perfect and I'm really not doing enough of my part for that dream of saving the world, but I wish I could tell everyone around the world from whatever religion and ethnicity suffering from pain, hunger, fear, danger, sorrow, and loss...that I look up to you.

I look up to you for your patience, for your endurance, for your faith, and for your hope. Everyday I wonder how you're able to live in such fear and stress, when I just have the stress of a person with food, shelter, and a good education. I wonder how we sit here wasting food, when you search for our leftovers to eat amid the strife that keeps you from eating proper food. I wonder how it must feel to raise your children among the dangerous circumstances you live in, when we sit here wondering which private school is better for our future kids. I wonder how you still manage to pray while you're experiencing such hardships, when we sit here missing or delaying prayer since we're so lost in all the wonderful things we have. I wonder how God will reward you immensely for all you have endured and how we will have no reason for being as ungrateful as we are.

For those who don't know, I'm known to be overly empathetic by my friends and family sometimes. They say it can be unhealthy if you get so lost in the negative aspects of the world we live in and ignore the positives. This is true, but I really think we need to put ourselves in other people's shoes sometimes to realize how fortunate we really are.

Am I ranting? Maybe. But really, it doesn't matter what religion you follow. It doesn't matter what your ethnicity is. I don't care if you donated money to the many good causes around the world or not, but at least donate your time to reflect, to ponder about how grateful we should be for the food and water, for the safety, for our education, for our loved ones, for our health, for the ability to even read this post wherever we're sitting right now.

Some of you might be wondering where this random rant is coming from. It's coming from reading the news, from seeing the videos, from hearing first-hand experiences of people both near and far, from just realizing that I feel extremely blessed right now. Yes, I'm Muslim and yes, it's Ramadan, which is intended to be a month of reflection, but you don't need to be a part of a certain religion or ethnicity or political background to reflect.

You just need to be human.

{This post was featured on Brown Girl Magazine.}

Palette for the evening.


Bold and simple.

Top _Agaci
Sweater _Target
Necklace _Forever21

Follow your intuition.


During the school year, I started interning at The Art Institute of Chicago, Department of Architecture and Design. The first exhibition I worked on was "Architecture to Scale: Stanley Tigerman and Zago Architecture." The curator of the exhibition, Karen Kice, had me work on the digital model of the gallery space to figure out where to place the models and how to design the space so that it reflects both architects' work. I mainly worked on the portion that focused on Mr. Tigerman. It was an extremely beneficial experience for me, because I usually looked at an architect's work from the outside. I never went so deeply into it as I did when trying to tell a story with his models, drawings, and the design of the gallery walls. When I found out I was going to work on an exhibition for Stanley Tigerman, I realized I didn't know enough about him, so I went to the library and checked out every book I could find about him.

While many people (especially IIT folks), have various views about Mr. Tigerman and his work, I enjoyed learning about his approach to the built environment. What stood out to me when I was looking through photographs of his work, was the pattern of using a pop of color, simple geometric forms, and humor to design his buildings. I especially love his doodles and sketches, which tell stories about the buildings he designs.

One of my most memorable experiences while working at the museum has been the opportunity to have lunch with Mr. Tigerman and my co-workers. He was cracking jokes and sharing many words of wisdom, which I really enjoyed. He shared his memories of East and West Pakistan (which soon became just Pakistan and Bangladesh). He told us stories about the many buildings he has designed all around the world and his experiences as a student at Yale. Even though many people told me he could be pretty intimidating and harsh sometimes, I just appreciated how funny and kind he was in that moment. One thing I took from the conversation was his words on intuition. He said, "Follow your intuition and good will come of it." He mentioned that sometimes, that's the only reason you have to go on and do something you want to do and there is no better reason at that moment.

The next day I took Afroz to see the exhibition. Mr. Tigerman was sitting in a chair in the gallery speaking to Karen as we walked in. I introduced him to Afroz and Mr. Tigerman mentioned how much he enjoyed having lunch with me. I was happy that he enjoyed it just as much as I did. When a tour group came in, he spoke to them about the exhibition and expressed gratitude to the museum for curating a show that truly reflected his work as an architect. He also recognized and thanked me as "this young lady from Pakistan," which I thought was hilarious, but awesome :-)

Afroz and I were invited to the short reception afterward and I was able to get a picture with Stanley Tigerman. I am so grateful for the Department of Architecture and Design's curators, Zoƫ Ryan and Karen Kice for allowing me to work so deeply in the process of curating this exhibition. Alhamdulilah for all of these wonderful experiences.

Stanley Tigerman drew these doodles on the wall and every time a child came an interacted with the drawing,
he loved it so much. "This is who I design for," he said.
The pink and purple walls with the doodles reflect Mr. Tigerman's use of color and drawings to tell a story.
Various models sit in the gallery, along with some sketches to show his process.
Mr. Tigerman sometimes uses mirrors in his buildings, so this wall has a little square opening lined with mirrors.
Afroz checking out the exhibition :)
Stanley Tigerman's models are built with great precision and care.
I worked with Karen to design the two trusses, which reflect his use of similar shapes and forms in his projects.
The color and shape on the walls really brought the exhibition together and made it more fun. 
I had fun modeling the trusses and the walls digitally. Being able to see them in full scale was nice.
Mr. Tigerman spoke to the AIA Convention tour group. His wife Margaret stood next to him, along
with Karen and Zoe on the right. 
Me and Stanley Tigerman after the reception :-)

The exhibition will be open until September 14, 2014. For more information, click here.

Woodblock Print Scarves


I took a furniture class this semester. Along with designing and building a piece of furniture, I had to design a mass-produced object. My professor, Paul Pettigrew, called this the "Five in a Weekend Object," with the idea that five of the same object could be created to sell after a weekend's worth of work. 

As a person who practices hijab, I have a special connection to scarves. I own many prints and colors, but sometimes I wish I could find scarves with specific patterns that I cannot find at H&M, Forever 21, and Target (my favorite stores for purchasing scarves). Way back in high school, I took a printmaking class at Marwen. I had no idea what it was when I signed up for the class, so I just jumped into it and decided to learn something new. I learned how to carve linoleum to create prints on paper. This semester, I started printmaking again. I bought some small pre-made linoleum blocks from the art store, along with carving tools and ink and had some fun with it.

After experimenting on paper, I decided to create woodblock printed scarves. The idea behind these scarves was to use a contemporary technique for a traditional practice. Rather than spending hours carving wood to create a design to print on the scarves, I used a laser cutter. I created an intricate pattern on AutoCAD. Then, I planed the white oak wood that was provided as a part of the class until it was thin enough to fit a laser cutter bed. Then, with the press of a button, I had a delicate lace-like sheet, which I glued onto a heavier, thicker piece of white oak. I then rolled on ink to the block and pressed it to a scarf. The result was beautiful and many people have asked me to create scarves for them Alhamdulilah! I am now working on perfecting some aspects of the printing process before I sell them inshaAllah. I truly enjoyed making these scarves and I look forward to sharing them soon! Here are some images of the process:

Some visuals I presented during my review

Test print with a smaller woodblock
[Left] Laser cutting the pattern [Right] Woodblock and scarf ready for printing
Roller used to put ink on the block
Lace pattern, which was cut on a laser cutter
I had to press the scarf down onto the block for the ink to transfer evenly.
I then pulled the scarf off the block carefully.
The wood allowed a fade-like effect on the scarf since it wasn't completely smooth.
And there it is! Behind me is the final wood block used to create the scarf I wore to my presentation.

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