Aala Sharfi

We chat with Masters of Design candidate, Aala Sharfi about the impact her first design internship had on her life; her aim to explore language and place-making and their relationship to design, and how she applies the Marie Kondo method to life & social media.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

I studied Architecture at the University of Nottingham in the UK. While I was looking for a job in Architecture when I first graduated in 2015, I did a graphic design internship at Fikra Design Studio which played a massive role in where I am now. After that, I went on to work at an Architecture practice for a year and then I went back to school for a masters in design at York University in Toronto, most recently I did a short internship at Saul Studio during the summer.

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

Much of my work lies within the intersections of design and culture. I’ve moved around a lot but I think the one thing that stays with me is my relationship to my cultural identity. I look at ways of exploring language and place-making and their relationship to design. My creative practice is a way to unpack issues surrounding cultural identity, politics, and the creation of narratives in the diaspora.

Design work by Aala Sharfi The Design Kids interviews Aala Sharfi work-2

What are your three must-read design books, blogs or podcasts and why?

‘Are We Human? Notes on an Archaeology of Design’ by Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley. An easy read, it's a multi-dimensional exploration that really puts everything design - and society into perspective, it’s an open-minded overview that widens the boundaries by looking both at the past and the future.

"Insert Complicated Title Here" by Virgil Abloh is incredibly inspiring.

E-Flux’s website is a good place to read about current cultural and political dialogues and discourses influencing art, architecture and design practices.

What’s your take on internships? (do you take interns now?)

Internships played a massive role in helping me figure out what I wanted to do, I started out in architecture and slowly made the transition into graphic design. You find mentors along the way and meet some great people. Being at work will really help you see what your discipline is like in practice, which is very different from what it’s like in academia. They also helped me get a sense of what sorts of work cultures I thrive in and what is important to look for in a workplace.

Design work by Aala Sharfi The Design Kids interviews Aala Sharfi work-4
Design work by Aala Sharfi The Design Kids interviews Aala Sharfi work-4

What's the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

To always be forward thinking in my design work.

2019 for you in a sentence.

If it doesn’t “bring you joy”, unfollow it or get rid of it.

Design work by Aala Sharfi The Design Kids interviews Aala Sharfi work-6
Design work by Aala Sharfi The Design Kids interviews Aala Sharfi work-6

Where to find Aala Sharfi online.

Website: aalasharfi.com

Instagram: @aalasharfi

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