In Collaboration with Denielle Emans.

This project was a collaboration between GDES students and MAHATAT, a public art organization located in the Middle East. During the collaboration, students worked to revive the magic of traditional ‘wonder-boxes’ by developing prototypes in English and Arabic, while considering the need for both functionality and portability.

The project methodology leveraged interactive and trans-media approaches for engaging the community in dynamic cultural and visual storytelling. Following the assembly of the boxes, students conducted ethnographic fieldwork to understand participatory tools for social inclusion. This project explores the implications of reviving traditional art forms through design practice that incorporates play and magic to support cultural preservation.


Following the success of the project a faculty research grant allowed the project to be expanded upon and presented at multiple conferences. Below is a list of publications and presentations relevant to this project:


Faculty Research Grant: 

“The 3ajeeb! Wonderbox: Interactive Storytelling for Cultural Preservation in Qatar” with Denielle Emans, VCUQatar. Grant $10,815, 2015


“Wonder-Filled Design: Reviving Dynamic Visual Storytelling and Cultural Narratives” (with Denielle Emans). Presentation at LearnxDesign, the 3rd International Conference for Design Education Researchers and PreK-16 Design Educators, Chicago, IL, June 28–30, 2015. 

“Culture in a Box: Reshaping Community–Based Narratives into Visual Constructs” (with Denielle Emans). Presentation at the AIGA Design Education Conference, Spaces of Learning: Inside Outside Graphic Design Education, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April 16–18, 2015.


“WonderBox: Storytelling and Emerging Technologies” (with Denielle Emans), Proceedings of LearnxDesign, the 3rd International Conference for Design Education Researchers, Edited by Robin VandeZande, Erik Bohemia, Ingvild Digranes. No.2. (604–622), Chicago, IL, June 28–30, 2015. 
[FORTHCOMING] “Collaborative Design Competencies (DESCO)” (with Denielle Emans) in FORMakademisk, Special Issue, 2016.