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Welcome to my process page, where I will take you through the step-by-step journey of how I approach my thesis project as a graphic design major. It is my goal to demystify this process and show you how I bring my ideas to life. Here, you will find a breakdown of each stage of my process, including the tools and techniques I use. By the end of this page, I hope to give you a better understanding of my creative process.

Process

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Fall 2022

As a graphic designer, I am interested in Islamic dawah because it presents an opportunity to use my skills to spread a message that is important to me. Islamic dawah is the act of inviting people to Islam and sharing the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad. Graphic design can be a powerful tool for communicating these messages visually and effectively to a wide audience. By creating visual content that promotes Islamic dawah, I can help to raise awareness about Islam, and inspire others to learn more about the religion. Additionally, working on Islamic dawah projects can be a meaningful and fulfilling way to use my creative skills to make a positive impact in the world.

During the fall 2022 semester we were required to create a dictionary that is focused on our main interest of the thesis topic. My dictionary book aimed to provide a comprehensive Islamic terminology and concepts. Throughout my research and writing process, I consulted a range of authoritative sources, including the Quran, hadith, and classical Islamic texts, to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information presented. The book includes definitions, explanations, and examples of key Islamic terms and concepts.

The Goal

For this project I am interested in the act of verbal prayer (Al Dhikr) and its impact on muslims daily life. Also, the importance of remembering the purpose of those prayers in order for muslims to practice them spiritually. Dhikr is a practice of remembrance of Allah (God) in Islam. It involves the repetition of certain phrases or prayers that praise Allah and seek His forgiveness and mercy. Dhikr is considered an important act of worship in Islam and is encouraged in the Quran and Hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad). There are many forms of Dhikir, including reciting specific verses from the Quran, repeating the name of Allah or other Islamic phrases, and performing certain physical actions such as prostration or raising the hands. Dhikr can be performed individually or in a group, and can be done at any time of the day or night. The purpose of Dhikr is to purify the heart, strengthen faith, and draw closer to Allah. It is also believed Dhikir have a calming effect on the mind and soul, and can help to alleviate stress and anxiety. It is also considered a way to seek forgiveness for sins and to increase blessings and rewards from Allah. Therefore my goal is to design a new product designed to help enhance meditation and prayer experience. This product must be crafted to provide an immersive and peaceful feel that should help people to focus their minds, relax their bodies, and deepen their spiritual practices.

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Data Collecting

I have also been interested in human behaviors in my daily life. I was introduced to Dear Data, two friends shared their daily life to each other through visual data put together in creative drawings. And this is when I thought it would be fun for the purpose of my research to do the same, which is collecting data. I spent a month during last winter break focusing on 4 words that have a great impact on a muslims life. Which are, Subhan Allah, Al-Hamdulillah, La elah ela allah and Allahu Akbar. A word for each week. The purpose is to collect as many words I hear as possible and write them down and also write down the purpose of use. Were they happy when they used it? Sad? Grateful? The intentions of those sayings were important to me. I then noticed those prayers have become a habitual act instead of spiritual. I want to focus on the importance of reciting and repeating, a habitual act of faith.

Precedent

After doing a lot of research and looking at precedents who worked around almost the same topic, to finally picking a project to work with, I have thought of inventing a meditation tool that is modern, and playful. Not necessarily for only Islamic practices. I was looking at different types of materials and forms. Should it be a board? Should I use sand?

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Panter & Tourron

I was also introduced to the Swiss studio of Panter & Tourron who work at the intersection of technology, design and society, material and technological innovation. They combined technology and religion to create five holy objects. By combining technology and religion to create holy objects, the studio demonstrates the potential of merging seemingly disparate fields to create unique and meaningful products. This approach inspired me to explore unconventional combinations of materials, technologies, and cultural elements in my own product design.

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Books

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Arts & Crafts of the Islamic Lands: Principles Materials Practice

The book Arts and Crafts of the Islamic Lands was a valuable resource for my thesis project in my graphic design major, which focused on creating an Islamic visual identity. The book provided a detailed overview of the history and aesthetics of Islamic art and design, as well as the cultural and religious contexts in which they were created. Through the book's rich illustrations and examples, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of the patterns, motifs, and calligraphy that are characteristic of Islamic art and design. This knowledge allowed me to create a visual identity that was authentic and respectful of Islamic tradition, while also incorporating contemporary design principles and techniques. Overall, the book was instrumental in helping me to develop a visual language that effectively communicated the values and ideals of Islam, and I am grateful for its contributions to my thesis project.

The book explores the history, techniques, and cultural significance of the arts and crafts produced in the Islamic world. The book covers a wide range of artistic disciplines, including calligraphy, ceramics, textiles, metalwork, and architecture. The book is organized chronologically, tracing the development of Islamic art and craft from its origins in the seventh century to the modern era. Each chapter focuses on a particular time period or region and provides a detailed overview of the artistic styles, techniques, and cultural contexts of the period. The book also explores the Islamic artistic traditions and their connections to other cultural traditions, such as Byzantine, Persian, and Indian art. It highlights the importance of Islamic art in the wider context of world art history and its influence on later artistic movements.

Brainstorming
and Sketching

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I then went back and looked at the existing Mesbah. We have the traditional Mesbah made of beads which is an icon for islam and also other religions. And also looked at the new clicker and the newest one which is a combination of both the traditional and the clicker because there's a little screen where you can see the numbers while counting. I don’t mind the traditional Mesbah, but the clicker, although it serves its purpose, the design and material used made it lose its value. 

In Multi studio we explored existing products that existed in order to study their characteristics, each group member brought their own objects that seemed to fit the criteria of a “Meditative” object or its presence was heavy in Muslim culture (i.e, the Misbah & Counter). The group brought different “Meditative” objects that had a common factor of being soothing and repetitive. We observed the objects and recorded their different characteristics and how they helped them achieve their purpose.

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After studying and analyzing the various different products that I found were either variations related to the Mesbah or products related to meditation, I started to narrow down some key features that I wanted to be part of my design.

 

My approach was to have a product that was sleek and minimalistic, but at the same time portable and ergonomic. I also was confident with the concept of my product being based on one of the simple shapes (Cube, Cylinder, Sphere etc.)

 

I then started to create designs with the basic shapes as the base foundation for my design concepts. Ultimately, I was left with various design approaches and through comparison & contrast and practicality checks, I was convinced that the two square concept was the most viable approach to tackle the task at hand. 

Most importantly It has to be Ergonomic

A list was created with the requirements I wanted for our product including:

 

  • Portable

  • Compact

  • Ergonomic

  • Simple

  • Affordable

  • recognizable form

  • Repetitive (Loop)

  • Start and an end

  • Ambidextrous (ambdekstris) friendly (used by both hands)

  • helps with counting

  • Multi purposes

  • Rewarding

Final Sketch

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In Islamic culture, the square shape holds significant importance and has been a key influence in the design of this product. Inspired by geometric Islamic patterns, a geometric form was chosen as the design foundation. This approach has been employed throughout history, as traditional civilizations have utilized geometric ratios and proportions in the construction of sacred and ceremonial sites. These structures were typically built with specific dimensions that incorporated mathematical numbers, constants, and ratios, such as the "golden/sacred mean."

According to Ardalan and Bakhtiar (2000), every geometric shape or figure in Islamic art has a symbolic meaning that reflects the values and principles of universal unity. This unity is the core of Islamic doctrine, as explained by Seyyid Hossein Nasr, and is embodied through geometry and rhythm. Islamic art is based on mathematical ratios and proportions, which are believed to represent the essence of Islam. These ratios and proportions are a fundamental aspect of Islamic art and reflect the importance of unity within the culture.

The square shape represents justice, stability, perfection, and constancy due to the equality of its sides. The Kaaba as an inspiration to this project, is a square structure, and it symbolizes balance, perfection, and firmness and was the first house built for people established by God's command. 

By rotating two squares, an eight-pointed star called The Rub El Hizb is created, which is used in the Quran to represent each quarter of a Hizb, a section in the holy book. The symbol was used to aid in the recitation and memorization of the Quran, dividing the verses into quantifiable passages to keep track of the Hizbs. The symbol's name, Rub3 and Hizb, means grouped into quarters, reflecting its use in dividing the Quran. The Rub El Hizb is also used in Arabic calligraphy to mark the end of a chapter.

Why did I choose a circular motion? I selected a circular motion because it replicates the orbit motion of the pilgrimage (Hajj), which is a crucial ritual performed by Muslims during Al Hajj and Alumrah. This ritual is significant since it allows Muslims to perform all five pillars of Islam in a single act. In Islamic pattern-making, the circle holds a significant role as well. Islamic artists utilized the circle of unity as a basis for creating geometric proportions in Islamic patterns. The circle is one of the most prevalent shapes in nature and symbolically represented the signs of creation, similar to how the sun is viewed as one of the symbols of divinity (the universal symbol).

Planning and Prototyping

I have been doing rapid prototyping where I have been making, 3D printing and testing different materials to see what fits the criteria of my product. Many have failed. It took me a month to figure the mechanism out. 

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Size

Prototyping with different sizes for your fidget toy can be a crucial step in the product design process. By testing different sizes, I gathered valuable feedback on how the object feels in the user's hand and how comfortable it is to use. It also helped me identify any potential issues with ergonomics, such as whether the object is too small or too large for certain hand sizes or if it's difficult to manipulate with one hand.

It also allowed me to compare and contrast the different versions to determine which size performs best overall. It helped me refine the design and make any necessary adjustments before moving forward with the next step, potentially saving time and material.

Color

For color I have chosen black and white because, white has a distinctive position in Islam. This table showed that the word ‘white’ is used positively ten times (10 out of 12) . That means white mainly reflects tranquility and it gives psychological comfort as well as they have good and positive impacts on the psyche.

For black I have chosen to use ink because it has a very significant symbol in the Quran. Pen is one of Allah's signs, it is worthy to note that the Quran and Hadith all are recorded by the pen. We muslims also believe that the pen is Allah’s first creations. 

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Materials

Prototyping with different materials for your fidget object can be an essential step in the product design process. By testing various materials, you can evaluate the toy's durability, texture, weight, and overall feel. It can also help you identify any potential issues with the toy's construction, such as whether the materials are too brittle or too flexible.

I have thought of many different materials for this product but what I really want to explore is wood. There is a great significant symbolism of Trees in Islamic Scripture. Also there are many kinds of trees that were mentioned in the Quran. They are mostly described positively like it's a given reward from Allah in heaven. 

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Mechanism

It took time and effort to figure out the mechanism that made the clicking sound work effectively. However, with the help of professor Levi it was incredibly rewarding and fulfilling to finally hear the desired sound. We used a bicycle ratchet and embed it inside the Mesbah for it to click. It required a deep understanding of mechanics and engineering principles, as well as creativity and innovation, to develop a mechanism that is both effective and unique. It is not uncommon for to encounter obstacles and setbacks during this process, and it required so many iterations and testing to arrive at the optimal mechanism. But once the mechanism is finalized, it felt a great pride and satisfaction, knowing that the effort and hard work put into the design have paid off.

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