The mind behind the design – Lujain Abulfaraj

A future industry giant is born! Creative Director Lujain Abulfaraj and the Bin WTD family, as they would like to call themselves, have made waves in the Middle East by stripping away the glossy facade of contemporary architecture and exposed what has been long forgotten. WTD Magazine is an interactive architecture and design magazine launched in the UAE in aims of becoming the number one architectural and design publication in the region. With an interactive and innovative layout and design scheme the magazine has caught the eye of many. So much so that the mind behind the layout, Abulfaraj was asked by Al Riwaq Art Space in Bahrain to conduct a beginners magazine layout workshop during the galleries Market 338. Sketchbook Magazine caught up with the young creative at the workshop to learn more about her, her journey and the magazine.

 

Tell us about your beginnings as a Visual Communication students at the American University of Sharjah. What was your college experience like, and did you think at any time during your college years you would launch a publication of your own that is on the fast track of becoming a reference for everything architectural and design-related in the Middle East Region?

Being a Visual Communication Student at the American University of Sharjah, was the beginning of it all. It shaped the designer and professional that I am today. The stimulating and challenging environment that we grew up in taught us the importance of hard worker and perseverance. Necessary qualities when starting a new venture, especially in such a competitive business. I always dreamed of working in a magazine but would have never dreamed to be one of the leaders in a magazine that is truly inspiring to me! It would not have been possible without the commitment and love of all of the Bin WTDs and contributors.

 What was it like to emerge into the real world as a bright-eyed graduate? and what work experiences have you had since graduation and co-founding WTD Magazine?

I’ve worked on a few freelance projects after graduating and it was sad that I could not apply what I have learned during my university years. WTD Magazine is what I needed to keep my creative juices running – and my sanity.

Where did the idea for WTD Magazine come from? Tell us more about the team, Meitha Al Mazrooei and WTD’s beginnings?

The Idea of WTD comes from the Arabic word “Watad” which is the anchor that holds the tent to the ground. In some ways WTD Magazine hopes to become the anchor of all things architectural and design in the Middle East. Being a non-glossy publication we hope to call attention to the non-glossy spaces in the Middle East. Meitha Al-Mazrooei is WTD’s founder, editor and visionary! She came up with the idea and together we were able to make WTD a reality. Just like the tent, WTD would truly not stand without its fundamental watads (anchors) Petra Matar, Khaled Sadiyyah, Ayah Halawani and Tracy Gray.

What does your magazine content focus on? 

The magazine focuses on spaces – architecture and design in the Middle East – specifically the forgotten the spaces that are outshined by the glossy spaces. We like to question the surrounding environment, find problems, propose solutions and interact with our readers!

Your innovative magazine layout has caught the attention of many. What is your artistic process, where do you draw inspiration from and do you have your own theory on editorial design?

We are people that appreciate space! So it was important to us to have a lot of negative space in the layout. Not only is it more comforting to the eye, but it also gives readers space to doodle, sketch, and write notes all over the magazine! We are individuals who are attached to our sketchbooks so we decided to create a magazine that acts like one.

Who else is involved in the art direction of the magazine? 

Our Art Director, Petra Matar, is responsible for the art direction of the magazine. She has endless talent and can doodle in her sleep!

One of your magazine features is being interactive, which is why you use matt recyclable papers that you can easily doodle and scribble on. Explain how you get your readers to interact within your pages. Again, the white spaces are important. Also we try to post questions so people can answer, share their thoughts and counter argue the ideas proposed.

You’ve launched your first issue and have recently launched the second. What feedback have you received from the first issue and are you at all nervous about peoples reaction to your second issue?

We actually love our readers’ feedback and critique. Our magazine grows organically as we love process! However time shapes WTD and we are happy to share that process with the people around us as the community shapes WTD.

As for issue 02 we are all so proud of it, the feedback has been rewarding! Alhamd lel allah!

What advice do you have for aspiring young designers who want to embark on the career of print design or editorial design?

Believe in your vision, accept criticism, don’t try to please everyone and never give up!

WORDS & ILLUSTRATION: BADRIYA AL MAHMEED

IMAGES: LUJAIN ABULFARAJ & WTD MAGAZINE  PAGE  http://www.facebook.com/WTDMAG