Hirumi Nanayakkara joined us in July 2011 as a design & technology intern. During her two months stay at Karaj, she worked closely with Ayah on her neon light installation piece and participated in the SPF research project with Ramsey (resident) and Sherif (member). Hirumi also was responsible for advertising and fixing our website. And thanks to her hard work, we now have a trailer for Karaj ! We asked Hirumi to tell us more about her project and here’s what she said about her work and how Karaj helped her in implementing it.
As a graduate student who was teetering on the brink of despair as I entered my thesis year at Parsons The New School for Design, working at KARAJ was an opportunity to break away from the hustle and bustle of New York City, and plunge into an environment in need of thoughtful urban design strategies.
My time at KARAJ was an experiment in interdisciplinary, collaborative, DIY approaches to Lebanon’s broken infrastructure. Armed with a bountiful supply of hommos, shish tawouk, and Nescafe, I spent my summer working on:
1. SPF (Solar Powered Fan): a collaborative research project exploring the electricity problem in Lebanon. We completed previously undocumented field research, interviews, video and picture documentation. This work was edited into a package that includes a series of documentary webisodes, plexiglass light installation, solar-powered LED T-shirt, and a research compendium to promote social awareness and invite members of the community to take action.
2. Research Assistant to Ayah Bdeir on her neon light installation piece, IJIT IJIT. “Ijit, Ijit” is a phrase frequently uttered by the Lebanese when determining whether or not the electricity has gone out. Rigged with a motion sensor and some seriously complicated circuitry, this sign symbolizes Lebanon’s inability to have sustaining power by shorting out anytime a person walks passed the light.
3. Maintenance and upkeep of KARAJ’s website, resources wiki, light blogging + social media, and creation of KARAJ’s video trailer.
Though the projects were exciting, my favorite part about KARAJ were the people. Working in a collaborative space with other interns and inventors was inspiring and motivating. The workspace never lacked a plethora of creative projects and ideas, and a helping hand was never more then steps away from my desk. There was always someone to bounce ideas off of, help debug code, or to snack and drink coffee with. We collectively counseled each other through accidental self-inflicted electric shocks, smoking circuits, multiple laptop suicides, and one million error messages, while utilizing the garden and well-stocked kitchen to celebrate our victories.
I’ve gained valuable experience working with innovative leaders in the world of Design + Technology. My hands-on training in physical computation and transdisciplinary collaborations will come in very handy this year as I work on my thesis project that explores the intersection of people, technology, and sustainable practices in urban cities.
Merci kteer Ayah, Sima, Adriana, Adib, Bassam, Ramsey, Sherif, & Hind, for one very unforgettable summer!