Parametric Dreams [Ep.6] – Maria Sfeir: Best Product Design Award 2019!

March 18, 2019 by ShapeDiver

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Last month we joined DesignMorphine during their Algorithmic Accessories v4.0 in our hometown of Vienna, Austria. It was a great event where students from all over the world learned how to use Rhino, Grasshopper and Keyshot in order to create fully parametric pieces of jewelry.

To give a little bit of extra motivation, at ShapeDiver we decided to give an award to the Best Product Design of the workshop. This year the winner was Maria Sfeir, a 24 year-old Architectural designer from Lebanon. In this blog post get to know what inspired her to become a designer and the thought process behind the ring that made her this year's winner. Enjoy!

1. Hello Maria! Thank you for joining us today. Before we get started, could you tell us a bit about your background?

Hello and thank you for this opportunity! As a young Architectural designer, I received a bachelor degree from Notre Dame University, Louaize, Lebanon two years ago and currently I am looking forward to pursue a Master’s Degree.

My love and passion for architecture as well as my curiosity to discover what lies behind this field in real life, made me start with internships from my first year of education. My internships and work experiences covered almost all the branches in architecture, from site construction with ERGA Group, Design process and competitions at RAA, Raed Abillama Architects, Urban planning with UN Habitat, Architecture and Art installations with Atelier Hapsitus and Nadim Karam, as well as Interior Design, Model Making and Product Design.

These various experiences taught and helped me a lot in deciding what track to choose for my future achievements.

2. What's your first memory regarding design?

From a very young age, I had a huge interest in everything related to creativity, specifically arts and design. I loved everything that enabled me to express my ideas and create them from drawing, handmade crafts and modeling tools.

Being a Scout member for almost ten years, I had several memories regarding design, creation and event planning, but my favorite memory regarding design was my very first architectural project at the university: I had a very complex volume resulting from an interesting concept back then.

It was a big challenge for me, because it wasn’t that easy to draw and model by hand the same exact volume without using any software or computer. The instructors said that it was an A or F project. I remember that I wanted to quit architecture back then, thinking that if I am not able to express, show my idea and present something new and different, then this was not my place.

Yet I decided to take the challenge one more time and give it a try. After several trials and errors, endless research and hard work on my own, I was able to make it. The end result was very satisfying and it was a successful one. That’s when I knew I was on the right track.

3. Why was Parametric Design interesting to you? Why did you decide to take this Algorithmic Accessories workshop?

During my academic years, parametric design was for me something very strange, hard to understand, yet very attractive. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough knowledge about it or how to use its software. But to be very honest, I had one person that changed this perspective. Dame Zaha Hadid, my idol, with her astonishing work, free design and unique signature made me so curious and interested to learn, read and discover more about parametric design.

I tried to teach myself through several tutorials and books, but it was due to my cousin’s motivation and support that I joined the Algorithmic Accessories workshop. He participated in one of the DesignMorphine’s workshops and told me about them and how beneficial they are.

Back then, I had to choose between Vertical Variable V3.0 and Algorithmic Accessories V4.0 workshops and the reason why I chose this one was my love for jewelry design and the interest in understanding the algorithmic-based methodology, to manipulate the design, customize it and fabricate it all at once. I want to thank DesignMorphine, my tutors Lidia Ratoi, Eva Blaskova and Georg Lobe and ShapeDiver for making it a memorable experience!

4. Tell us about your "Ballerina In Motion" design: what was your thought process behind it?

From the very start, I wanted to design a ring that related to me, something that I would love to wear and has great memories behind it. When I was young, ballet was a big part of my life, I practiced it for 8 years then I had to stop for several reasons and didn’t have the chance to start it again.

Design process behind "Ballerina In Motion"

"Ballerina In Motion" is an example reflecting the relation between the body movements of a ballet dancer with her spine, which translates into the main body posture in this type of dance. The challenge was to translate several ballet movements into lines, then surfaces, in order to have them in motion shaping the ring.

The circle of the ring represents the tutu of the dancer, where the surfaces, taking the shape of the spine, would loft around it representing the dance movements. The ring had several iterations, taking several forms.

Due to the short, intensive time that we had, I stopped at this final shape, but I do believe that Ballerina In Motion could have an endless number of options based on the same structure and same concept. Therefore, I would definitely work on several options representing several ballet movements and maybe some of them would be smoother, lighter based on the movements only. Also, I look forward to designing the whole set, earrings, bracelets and necklaces in the future.

Final render of "Ballerina in Motion"

5. What are the challenges that young people around the world face when getting started with design/parametric design?

Design is a tool that sets you free, where creativity has no limitations. As a beginner, I think that Parametric Design can be overwhelming since it is a very wide platform filled with plenty of information and methods to learn in order to be able to reach a specific outcome. Therefore, the challenge, in my opinion, would be the ability to learn fast and the amount of time one puts in practicing everything related to the software and their plugins.

6. What recommendations would you give to someone struggling with the decision of which major to study?

First, and the most important advice, is to do something that they love and they’re passionate about. If you’re passionate about it, you will give everything it takes to succeed. Also, if that person has many options, I think the best way to decide is to try and learn more about each option and how each major is related to our daily life so time wouldn’t be wasted trying and changing majors.

Orientation might help students but not that much in my opinion, because not everyone has the same experience to tell. Therefore, the best way would be to explore it through workshops, short term courses, online courses, internships, asking professionals in the field of work and of course research.

7. Excellent! Thank you very much for your time. We wish you all the success and maybe we'll see you next year again?

Thank you ShapeDiver for this opportunity! Certainly! I'll be looking forward to participating in more events like this.

That’s it for our sixth episode of Parametric Dreams!  Would you like to be featured in this space? Make sure to contact us! Just send an email to and tell us about your work!

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