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AOD unveils the future n Explore the next generation design pioneers as AOD introduces its new graduates in BA and MA exhibitions

Thursday, 23rd of November 2023

AOD is opening its doors to the general public with its much-anticipated graduate exhibitions. It’s a display of design that goes beyond aesthetics, offering innovation addressing societal challenges and creative responses to human needs. As the curtains rise on the latest graduate exhibitions, both for Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes, After A/L and O/L students and parents are invited to witness the culmination of years of relentless work stemming from diverse talents and groundbreaking ideas. It’s an opportunity to see how AOD has nurtured not just skillful designers but visionary thinkers who are ready to shape the future of businesses with design.

For parents of children considering future career paths, these exhibitions are a great way to understand how these design students evolve from conceptual thinkers to future-ready designers meeting industry standards for powerful career paths. AOD takes pride in nurturing the visionaries of tomorrow. From the first day of their journey, AOD grooms students with a global perspective. Expert faculty members, industry professionals, and live industry projects provide a real-world experience. As Professor Thomass Atkinson, Director of Academic Affairs, emphasizes, “I have always believed from the very beginning of the student academic journey that we need to demonstrate daily to our students our dedication and commitment as an educator and mentor.

Specifically, the best faculty teachers treat teaching, as a serious academic endeavor, they expect more from their students, with a focus on the type of thinking and actions that will be expected in life, and they share their own intellectual curiosity and journey. Thus, trying to instill in students the gravity of stimulating their own intellectual curiosity and being reflective of their life experiences. Successfully striving for these attributes requires time and dedication to work towards a vision framed with a goal for excellence. We focus on inspiring our students to dream more so that they can envision their success, engendering that success is a journey, and not a destination when they come to the end of their course.

Finally, we are always expecting more of our students, as we enhance their personal and professional life to think critically and innovatively. The industry opening night is not only a platform where students proudly showcase their work but also an employment opportunity. AOD invites top design employers across its five sectors, offering degrees in Interior, Visual Communication, Motion Graphics and animation, Fashion Design and Textile, and Fashion Marketing, allowing students to meet and choose prospective employers. Three graduates, Lihini Samarasinghe, Sandali Fernando, and Koojana Weligamage, shared their journeys. Lihini, a Visual Communication graduate, defied expectations to pursue design, finding her true language at AOD: “Being the daughter of two doctors, I was always expected to study medicine or similar subjects in academia but in true designerly fashion, I decided to challenge the norm and pursue design.

Design was where I felt I truly belonged and AOD was the catalyst in making this come to fruition. AOD didn’t just teach me; it showed me a world where I thrived. A world where design became my language. Today I’m able to look back and be grateful to AOD and to all those who supported me by giving me the power and the means to discover my true purpose.” Sandali Fernando, a graduate from the Fashion Design and Textile stream shared her story “I was able to achieve the highest score in the fashion department this year and I’m very thankful for my family, all of my lecturers, and my best friends who supported me and guided me through out all these three years.

From the first year till the end, I worked really hard and focused on my design journey and learned a lot of things from my lecturers to come to this stage. I was able to develop my skills and get the best outcome. It was a great opportunity for me to study at AOD and I’m forever grateful for that” Koojana, specializing in Interior Design, explored his passion for AI, creating a project that addresses future challenges. In the words of Koojana, “Coming from an artistic family background, I always felt a deep connection to the world of creativity, and pursuing interior design as a career was an instinctive choice. AOD was easily the best option to realize my dreams. The curriculum has not only equipped me with the technical skills required for the professional world but has also nurtured and honed my innate artistic sensibilities. I dived into my interest in AI and based my final major project E.Utopia which is a research and legal facility that helps humans battle against AI Crimes in the future.

The blend of theory and hands-on experience has been instrumental in shaping my understanding of design principles and their practical applications. The freedom and guidance to explore my passion at AOD has also been invaluable to me.” This year, AOD’s first-ever batch of MA graduates is presenting groundbreaking work in Design Innovation Design Management, and Entrepreneurship. Their projects delve into deep, purposeful topics such as inclusivity, social change, sustainable manufacturing, deforestation, and the revival of local crafts.

Carol Holdsworth, Lead Mentor at AOD Grad School, who led a group of young visionaries determined to shape a brighter future, commends AOD for creating an environment that fosters impactful learning and personal development; “I had the honour of walking this path with them for the past 2 years, with their studies, final dissertations, as well as with the Start-Up School, a startup incubator by AOD, specifically aimed at helping their master's students transition their ideas into businesses. What I observed was a group of youngsters who see the world differently, despite its challenges and uncertainty, focused on the future and making it brighter, for themselves, their community, and country.

With their passion and determination, I cannot help but believe they will achieve their goals. Many of them already have. AOD created a wonderful environment for these students, recruiting international mentors and lecturers, and combining that with local expertise and hands-on support, to create truly impactful learning that allowed the students to develop not only their professional and entrepreneurial skill sets but also their personal journey as citizens and human beings.” MA Graduates Hash Bandara and Chani Perera share their transformative experience over the two years of their journey. Hash from MA Design Management and Entrepreneurship says “Following the MA design management and entrepreneurship at AOD GS helped me discover my purpose for this season, with the help of Lucy Vittrup during personal development sessions.

It laid the foundation for Proud Co. Lab, an inclusive and diverse recruitment marketplace for the LGBTIQ+ community globally. Since I have been an LGBTIQ+ rights advocate for the past 12 years seeing the discrimination faced by this community at work, drove me to find a technological solution for this issue. Being mentored at a startup school, by Carol, Mevan, and Linda, I was able to transform my idea into a viable business model that can empower millions of LGBTIQ+ lives globally. The journey at AOD grad school has helped me transform my life and fuelled me to chase my dreams.” Chani from the MA Design Innovation shares “The Design Innovation MA programme really helped me dissect and reflect on my skills and abilities accumulated in my career journey so far and formulate a new path for myself.

I’m now going into the next year with a new trajectory in my design journey that I trust will contribute to the design landscape in Sri Lanka very differently. It’s thrilling and also nerve-wracking at the same time. All signs of Design Innovation in the making I suppose! I’m very grateful to AOD grad school and especially the amazing tutors we met in our academic journey, especially Diana Criswell, Rashika Abeyawardana, Noud Sleumer, and Carol Holdsworth whose guidance took down a whole new wormhole in design” Witness this young brilliance from

December 1st to 3rd, 2023, from 10 am to 5 pm, at the Colombo Innovation Tower, 477 R. A. De Mel Mawatha, Colombo 04. Entrance is free, and the exhibition is open to the public. Register now by calling or WhatsApp at 0775727772 or visit https://www. srilankadesignfestival.lk/.

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