“They say you’re incredibly lucky if you get to pursue all your passions in a single lifetime; I for one, have been fortunate in that regard.” – Anabia Hassan
Here at the National Design Academy, we are so proud of our global community. The beauty of offering online courses is the accessibility; anyone, around the world, can study and learn with us. A perfect example of this is Anabia Hassan, one of our brilliant students based in Abu Dhabi. We have a second studio space out in Dubai where we can not only offer studio courses to those in the surrounding UAE, but have since explored the amazing art and design community that is thriving there. Anabia completed her Diploma in Professional Interior Design with us and is very close to finishing her Master’s Degree in Interior Design, again with the National Design Academy. We caught up with her just before she completes her course.
Can you please tell us what you were doing before you started your course with the National Design Academy?
We had just moved to the UAE. I had been teaching undergraduates ‘strategic management’ back home after completing MSc Management from Imperial College London. However, with the vast array of opportunities that UAE had to offer, I decided it was finally time to pursue my passion for Interior Design. With no formal academic background in the subject, I thought it best to go for a diploma first.
Why did you choose to study with the National Design Academy?
At the time I took it upon myself to pursue the Diploma in Professional Interior Design, I was a full-time mom to a two-year-old and the flexible studying option/distance based learning that NDA offered suited me perfectly. Also, the National Design Academy is one of the very few institutions offering distance-based learning diplomas and degrees which are accredited by the AIM awards and globally recognized.
In your opinion what were the most valuable skills, you learnt whilst on the course?
I feel both the diploma and degree courses are extremely well rounded; in that not only do they focus on the academic content but alongside, students are also trained about industry requirements and client dealing. An example is how in our master’s course we were taught about the importance of social media and blogging to maintain a presence in the industry. For me, it was quite a journey as I never saw myself as a writer/blogger before this. However, I realized that when it came to a subject I was most passionate about, it actually brought out the ‘blogger/writer’ in me under the mentorship of my personal tutor. Of course it being an art/design degree, I had to write uncountable reports and design proposals for our projects which anyways brushed up my writing skills to a great extent.
Another extremely pleasant takeaway from the degree program for me has been ‘conditioning oneself to pick up design inspiration from the surroundings at any point in time’ – after undertaking design proposal projects as part of the degree, it almost becomes an innate tendency.
What have you gone on to do since you finished your course?
I now have my own website – a humble attempt on my part to try and reach out to fellow design enthusiasts, whether as a profession, academic discipline, hobby, zeal or passion. I also recently got the opportunity to be the featured blogger for Surface Design Middle East.
I have also just started an artsy découpage craft collection; in the beginning, it was more of a source of rejuvenation and a way to unwind, up until I decided to test the markets at the Ripe Market Dubai and I received an immaculate response! I make my pieces 100% waterproof, embellish with acrylic paints, wax pastes finally coating with thick water proof varnish layers – subsequently making them potential heirlooms! The best part was that through the Ripe Market I received many requests for one-on-one projects and also got hold of an online platform which has agreed to take on my crafty products for selling through their website Artezaar – due to launch this month. They have also asked me to write weekly blog articles for their website.
Would you recommend someone to study with the National Design Academy, if so, why?
I would totally recommend NDA and there are many reasons for that. Not only does it provide flexible study options, accredited and globally recognized qualifications, but you also get the option of doing part of your course in studio which I feel is very important for any art and design study program. Particularly for the Diploma, where you’re taught all the interior design basic skills and practical knowledge. It really makes a difference to get hands on experience in a studio.
Another really important factor to consider is that each student has a personal tutor assigned to him/her maintaining constant contact in real time. I feel that is extremely beneficial in distance learning; both my tutors (during the Diploma and the Master’s program) have extended their utmost support at all times. Having absolutely no background studying interior design as a discipline before, I cannot remember a single instance where I was stuck and did not receive timely help and assistance. The continuous and much needed constructive criticism was of course equally important. Even though the Masters programme is many notches up in difficulty when compared to the Diploma, despite struggling at the start in the first module, my tutor really pulled me up at the level required.
Also, the entire study program is designed in a way that it keeps you updated with all the latest industry trends, and introduces you to important design fairs and trade exhibitions (such as the INDEX and the Arabian International Home Show). Interior design as an industry is heavily reliant on technology and innovation and with such changes coming about at an increasingly fast pace, it is of utmost necessity to keep abreast of all the latest developments.
Lastly, unlike what intuitively come to mind when you think about distance based learning, during my study a NDA I made friends with fellow students as we are encouraged to keep in touch through online communities as well as participation at trade fairs. We have benefitted greatly from each other’s experiences and support during our times of study. I am truly grateful to NDA for enabling us to reach out to our kindred spirits.
What are your plans for the future?
I intend to sustain my blogging efforts and reach out to an even greater audience in the industry, further build upon my découpage craft business and eventually start my own freelance interior design business as well.
You can see more of Anabia’s work on her Instagram and her website. To find out more about our Diploma in Professional Interior Design, our Master’s in Interior Design and our other courses, you can visit our website.