Artists, designers and innovators from across the local education sector and the wider community now have one more resource to turn to when inspiration strikes them – the TinkerLab, a new shared space at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar), a Qatar Foundation partner university.

Situated in an easily accessible location – in the university’s popular Material Library, just off the entrance to the main university building – the TinkerLab offers a variety of tools that may not be currently available or accessible at the university, or elsewhere, for creatives.

Aside from augmenting the Material Library’s scope, the fact that the TinkerLab is open – by appointment – to the general public in addition to VCUarts Qatar’s students, staff and faculty, further boosts the art and design university’s commitment to promote hands-on engagement, exploration and experimentation in creative practices among the local community, a press statement notes.

The inventory of tools and equipment supports work ranging from detailed, delicate work to more elaborate, experimental work.  Examples of tools and equipment include, but are not limited to, handheld digital microscopes, a sewing machine, a desktop vacuum former, as well as a wide variety of cutting blades, precision tools, modeling tools, etc. Additionally, equipment for papermaking, dyeing and biomaterial explorations will also be available to experiment with.

The TinkerLab further supports additional forms of learning, experimentation, and production that may be cross-disciplinary and multi-faceted in nature.

“There is no better way to learn about materials than by engaging with them,” says Yasmeen Nabeel Suleiman, Materials Library curator & assistant professor, VCUarts Qatar. “Our new space in the Materials Library with its well-stocked array of tools, means that the Materials Library expands beyond just showing off its incredible collection of material samples, to providing opportunities for designers to use those materials in creative research and experimentation.

“Furthermore, as a shared space, the TinkerLab will allow students from different departments and with varying skill levels to experiment and explore creative work beyond their disciplinary parameters, allowing for more nuanced and varied outcomes. For instance, graphic design students who want to explore patterns within weaving, or fashion design student who want to cast embellishments, can do so at the TinkerLab. It also provides an alternative ambience for VCUarts Qatar students, faculty, and staff who would want to work and create in a cool, inspiring environment,” she added.

Suleiman worked closely with Saga Elkabbash, a VCUarts Qatar Interior Design alumna, currently a Woodshop & Fabrication Lab technician at the university, and Abdul Rahman Anwar - assistant materials curator at the Materials Library – to conceive the design of the TinkerLab, from scratch.

According to Suleiman, future plans include a series of activities that will serve to broaden the exposure, knowledge and discussion of materials and making, among the VCUarts Qatar and wider communities.

These include workshops and talks that will catalyse the TinkerLab and Material Library as learning tools, helping attendees benefit from the expertise of guest speakers selected based on the relevance of their work to materials education, exploration, fabrication and expertise in the art and design world.

To book an appointment or to learn more about VCUarts Qatar’s new addition to its existing array of resources, one can contact [email protected]

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