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Global Innovation Design (MA/MSc)

Mir Ahad Mahmood

Ahad Mahmood is an interdisciplinary designer and filmmaker from Pakistan, Singapore and New York. Prior to enrolling at the RCA/Imperial College, he worked as a Director and Director of Photography in New York. Currently, much of his work focuses on two themes; food systems and the social and personal affects of technology. Ahad hopes to leverage his experience to help design for a more sustainable and humane future.


Experience:

Commercial Director & Director of Photography - Schrom & Co. - New York (2016 - 2020)

Director of Photography - Freelance (2015 - Ongoing)


Education:

Global Innovation Design MA/MSc - Imperial College & Royal College of Art (2020-2022)

Film and Television Production BFA - NYU Tisch School of the Arts (2012-2016)

Show Location: Kensington campus: Darwin Building, Lower ground floor

I came to GID with a desire to explore new ways of working, thinking and making. GID has been an exercise in exploration and deviation from my expertise in filmmaking. Every project over the last two years represents an experiment in alien waters; each medium was new and each subject approached for the first time. For the 2022 graduation online show, I have selected several projects that showcase some of the diverse of methodologies and subject areas I have been experimenting with.


About the Work:

From Cell to Fork is a speculative cookbook that engaged scientists and chefs to consider the future of cultivated meat through envisioning recipes and production processes of the future.

Technologies of Time Dilation & AirWave are a diptych that explores the power dynamics between user and object. With one taking the form of critical writing, and the other as critical-speculative design, the pieces aim to comment on how our technologies not only shape our societies, but ourselves.

Osa is an interaction design research project that looks to better understand how we may 'unhack' attention, and encourage the mind to wander.

Clear Card is a design probe that seeks to equip Asylum Seekers with tools to help evidence and organize their testimony and provide support during the 'dehumanizing' and 'degrading' process of claiming asylum in the UK.

From Cell to Fork is a speculative cookbook that tries to frame cultivated meat as food first, technology second. With the conversation being driven by scientists, technologists and venture capitalists, Chefs have been routinely excluded from the discourse on cultivated meat despite being the primary interface between science and customer. In order to try to bridge this gap, this project employs the DLX Design Lab’s Treasure Hunting methodology by working with researchers and different stakeholders to bring cutting edge science to life through design.

This cookbook was developed as a near future exploration that engaged both chefs and researchers to co-design dishes that are only possible through cultivating meat. I worked with various chefs to understand what some of the culinary limitations of conventional meat are, and then to envision a dish that goes beyond the currently possible. Following this, researchers were then consulted to advise how the piece of meat could be cultivated. The results of these explorations were codified as recipes in order to translate the science to the language of the kitchen. The objective was not only to make it easier for chefs to take part in the conversation, but to encourage them to drive the development of cultivated meat and prioritize culinary possibilities.

AirWaveAirWave is a speculative personal device that tries to make overt the power dynamics between user and object. By proposing a tracheostomy as a solution to impaired breathing, AirWave responds to research that demonstrates the impact smartphone usage can have on our respiration. Instead of trying to adapt the smartphone to suit human needs, AirWave suggests adapting the human body to suit the smartphone.
Technologies of Time DilationTechnologies of Time Dilation looks at how technologies that mediate our perception of time can be used to exert power over us. This dissertation examines the historical precedence of the social and political change created by the mechanical clock, artificial light and the smartphone. Pulling upon the corpus of media theorists such as Neil Postman and Marshall McLuhan, the argument presented suggests that we do not have the upper hand in the relationship with our personal technologies.
Construction ExperimentsUsing existing construction tools, I developed a series of activities to understand and encourage how the mind may wander. I found managing the cognitive load of the interaction to be key in freeing the mind.
PrimingInteractive drawing actives are being developed in an effort to prime the process of mind wandering. If we want to let our minds wander, I hoped to see if it was possible to create the garden to wander within.

Our minds are relentless. They think constantly, even when we wish they would just stop for a moment. Mind wandering, sometimes referred to as Task-Unrelated-Thought is a cognitive process that we are all intimately familiar with. However, until recently, only its disruptive or negative attributes have been formally studied. Recent science has unveiled the positive role mind wandering has in our lives; it can boost mood, creativity and help us with non-routine problem solving. Despite this growing body of research, little work has been done to understand how we might facilitate this state.

Osa is an interaction design study that explores how our minds wander. Instead of 'attention hacking' and focusing a user's cognitive process, this project looked at how we may free it. Through a series of surveys and experiments, I tried to unpack some of the factors that enable and structure mind wandering. With the results of each experiment informing the design of the next, the tasks in the experiments became prototypes and aided in the construction of a design framework.

Clear Card is a design probe and a case study on decolonizing oppression by design, with design. It is a toolkit for asylum applicants to improve their perceived credibility in the eyes of the UK Home Office and evidence their personal testimony.

At the end of 2020, there were upwards of 70,000 people navigating the UK’s asylum system. The UK has constructed an application system that is characterised by its hostility towards each individual. Many applications are rejected on the basis of a ‘lack of credibility’, a metric that relies on subjective case-worker’s perception of an applicant.

We designed two tools to tackle two key moments in the application process. The first is a digital platform that allows applicants to construct and narrate their story, and automatize the third party evidence collection. This sources data to support the testimony from credible sources.

The second tool is a storytelling aid to help applicants navigate the substantive interview, which is where the decision to grant or deny the asylum is often made. We designed a low-cost, standarized printable document that the asylum seeker can physically bring to the interview to visually cross-references their testimony and all the evidence collected on a timeline of events.

Clear Card was developed in collaboration with Arnau Donate Duch and Aura Murillo.