Engineer Fatima Al Asaad: My designs in metaverse reflect peace and tranquility

The young Saudi woman, Fatima Al-Asaad, known as “SATTOM” was sent to study architecture in the United States of America. She completed her university studies in 2017, with a bachelor’s degree in engineering, and settled in Los Angeles , where she worked, and is still in the framework of an engineering company that undertakes projects Especially for hospitalization and research centers. Since the epidemic hit the world, Stom, the descendant of the eastern region, in addition to his work, has undertaken the interior design of commercial, entertainment and artistic projects in the virtual world (metaverse and other virtual world platforms), where he harnesses his knowledge in the field of engineering, in the preparation of spaces that are safe For users to rest, while they play, shop or even relax… On the differences between design for our world, virtual reality, its style, how architecture formed has his way of thinking, and future projects, engineer “Dumb” talks to “Ma’am”.
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Saudi engineer Fatima Al-Assad, better known as ‘Dumb’ (Photo: Christina Marie Rivera)

Tell us about your first steps in designing in the virtual world…
Through my studies and my work, in the field of architecture, I developed my interest in electronic design and virtual architecture; Initially, it was limited to the preparation of three-dimensional designs, in the context of artistic expression (Digital Art), and the design of various things from spaces to pieces of furniture in a virtual image. However, after a while of sharing my work online, I started collaborating with artists and companies in different fields to create virtual experiences for users. The media in which my design works appeared in the virtual world were advertisements for products, short lyrical “video clips” or electronic exhibitions of artworks, etc…

Is the design process of any project for the virtual world limited to making 3D graphics for it?
In terms of how it works, whether in reality or in the virtual world, the starting point is to find an idea to solve a specific problem. In fact, for example, the client may need a house to live in, and in the virtual world, the client may request the design of a space to host a digital conference… From the idea, whatever it is is, I draw the design plan first, and then build the 3D model in both cases; In real construction I have to work with contractors and engineers to transfer my plans to reality, but in the virtual world it is possible to work with programmers or specialists in 3D programs in a certain way, in accordance with the metaverse platform that will receive the project.

Women’s art creations

What kind of projects have you designed in the virtual world?

From the project of the virtual exhibition hall inspired by the Japanese style
  • A virtual exhibition hall, the decor of which is inspired by the Japanese style of design; It used abundant wood in the aforementioned project and used the material in a section of the floors outside the doors, imitating the “engawa” in traditional Japanese rooms… The aim of the project was to create a display area for home accessories from different companies, with the aim of selling “online”. The pieces included: a lamp designed by an artist based in Philadelphia, a mirror by a New York company, and a mural painted by a Dutch artist; She created a place within the design for the said lighting unit in the living room, and also used the crystal accessories in the bedroom, in addition to installing the artwork on one of the walls…
  • a (real) company that sells household goods, on the occasion of the launch of its first product in the virtual world; After discussions with the client, I decided to use the white color in the project with a simple design, and materials such as glass and concrete, with the absence of separations between the internal and external spaces through the use of elements of nature, like water, rocks and plants inside, in order to evoke a comfortable feeling in the ranks of the visitors of the place in the world.
    Designed by a company that sells household goods
  • A virtual exhibition of women’s art creations; My design idea was to arrange the artists’ works on a series of undulating figures, arranged in the shape of a flower and in the presence of a reflecting pool, in order to show the contributions of women in society in general, and in the artistic community in particular, in an abstract way.
    Designed by the virtual exhibition of women’s art creations

The foregoing represents some of the virtual spaces I have worked on, in the virtual world.

Does the design in the virtual world take into account the psychology of users, for example the effect of colors on them?
My goal in designing virtual spaces has been to transport viewers to places that evoke feelings of peace and tranquility in them, since I focused on working in this field in 2020, when the world population was concerned about the dire health situation due to of the epidemic. To achieve the goal, I often follow the rules of the “minimalist” school, with its straight lines and “clean” curved shapes, and away from excessive decoration, with the rationing in the use of materials and colors to the extent of three of them.

plaster and concrete

What are your favorite design materials and colors?
In terms of materials, I am drawn to plaster and concrete (raw), and the warmth of the space is added by wood. In terms of colors, I like to work with white, gray, earth tones and monochrome in general. Of course, it is necessary to take into account the customer’s taste, the identity of the project that designed and the heritage of the brand. Another important factor in creating a peaceful design is to eliminate the margins between the indoor and outdoor spaces and strengthen the visual connection with nature, by looking inside out, and green touches on the inside to add.

Do you follow the trends in the (realistic) design world, in terms of decorations, furniture and accessories, when designing for the virtual world?
Not necessarily, each project is unique in terms of the sources of inspiration that move me, while I work, and therefore the use of any element to fill the architectural space, as well as the furniture if any, is due to the story what I want to tell throughout the place. For example, in the aforementioned Japanese-inspired virtual exhibition hall, the seating was set low, similar to traditional Saudi seating, in the main living area. In the bedroom there was a post bed, a few inches off the floor, and stretched up to the walls, in the form of wooden planks that covered the bare concrete. At other times, the design may follow the trend, although this factor is not a major design factor.

human experience

How did your studies at the College of Architecture help you design for the virtual world?
Architecture developed my interest in design, and my understanding of interior architecture and its effects on the human experience, knowing that the user experience takes an important part of design, also in virtual worlds. Additionally, architecture taught me to carefully research any project, study precedents, and perform several design iterations before arriving at the final solution. Currently, I follow this path of design in the virtual world. I also had to learn how to use a lot of 3D software, both in college and in the work field, and note that I currently use many of these tools in the production of my virtual worlds.

What are your future projects, in the real and virtual world?

I did not announce it before this interview with “Madam”; I am in the process of working on a series of new virtual projects, spaces for gathering and healing, the designs of which are inspired by the historic bathrooms of the Middle East, North Africa and Andalusia. Footage will be released regularly throughout the summer; The visuals will be available for purchase in the form of non-flippable digital assets (NFTs) or physical prints. In terms of actual projects, I have been very excited since construction began on the new Salk Institute for Biological Studies Center (located in La Jolla, California, USA) on a new science and technology center that I was involved in designing with ‘ a small team of architects. Inside the HDR company I work for. It is worth noting that the building of the main institute, which is located near the new building under construction, was designed by the famous American architect Louis Kahn in the sixties of the last century, and is considered one of the most famous buildings of the twentieth century . My dream to be part of the design team for this landmark project has come true!

I often follow the rules of the “minimalist” school in designing spaces in the metaphysical world

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