Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation announces top appointments ahead of October 2017 admissions

Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI) has announced the appointment of Sass Brown as the institution’s Founding Dean, and Lebanese architect Hani Asfour as Associate Dean.

The first design school of its kind in the region will open its doors to students in the fall of 2018, with admissions opening this October.

Sass Brown joins DIDI from the School of Art and Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York, where she served as Interim Dean, overlooking 17 diverse majors. Prior to this position, she was Acting Associate Dean and Resident Director of the FIT campus in Florence, Italy.

UK-born educator’s primary area of research expertise is in ethical fashion – from slow design and heritage craft skills, to recycling, reusing and disruptive business models. She has also authored two books – Eco Fashion and ReFashioned, as well as being an established fashion designer with a portfolio of her own signature collections.

Sass Brown, Founding Dean of DIDI

Hani Asfour, who has been appointed to the role of Associate Dean, is an award-winning architect with a career spanning 20 years.

Asfour is the co-founder of Polypod, a multi-disciplinary collaborative design studio in Beirut, Lebanon. He has served as President of Beirut Creative Cluster and joins DIDI from the Lebanese American University (LAU).

Hani Asfour, Associate Dean at DIDI

“I am truly excited about coming to Dubai and contributing to what, in my view, is quickly emerging as one of the most dynamic markets for design education in the world,” said Sass.

“We essentially have a blank canvas to create something really special – a unique curriculum that combines global best practices from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and The New School’s Parsons School of Design with fresh and innovative teaching methods.”

Asfour added: “We believe there is a wealth of talent in the region. We are establishing DIDI as a design education innovator to create a platform to empower our youth with the necessary tools, resources and inspiration to compete on an international level.”

The Institute has also appointed Leigh Ann Jones-Khosla, former Business Development Director of TECOM’s Education Cluster, as Chief Operating Officer.

Having been part of the initial project development team working with the Dubai Design and Fashion Council (DDFC) to establish the Dubai-based design school, she is set to lead the team that manages all key professional service functions at DIDI.

At present, the region accounts for US$100 billion of the global design market, valued at about US$2.3 trillion.

According to the MENA Design Education Outlook 2016, a report produced by Monitor Deloitte for DDFC and Dubai Design District (d3), the region will require 30,000 new design graduates by 2019. Read further results from the report here. 

DIDI is designed by UK giants Foster + Partners

DIDI was established by TECOM Group in partnership with Dubai Creative Clusters Authority and is located in Dubai Design District, offering the region’s first Bachelor of Design degree with a curriculum developed in collaboration with MIT and Parsons.

DIDI has been designed by UK giants Foster + Partners as part of Phase II – the Creative Community, which has recently opened its office in D3.

designMENA spoke to Gerard Evenden, head of Studio 5 at Foster + Partners, who explained that the idea of creating an affordable environment for artists and start-up firms, as well as, tenants was an intriguing opportunity for the practice, which has already established a growing portfolio of projects in the region. Read full interview here. 

Aspiring design professionals can choose a combination of two out of five areas of concentration: Product Design, Strategic Design Management, Visual Arts, Media and Fashion Design. DIDI will welcome its first intake of students in the fall of 2018.

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