Hello, my name is
Haider Ali Akmal—
Sometimes I design futures and other times I print pasts.** Would you rather prefer a more formal introduction, here’s my CV 📃.
I’m a Pakistani designer/artist living in Australia.
I’ve been associated with art and design since 2009. With roots in traditional art practice (primarily printmaking ❤️️) and training from the National College of Arts 🌈️ in Lahore, Pakistan. Though originally a visual artist it wasn’t until I started my MA in Design Management from Lancaster University 🦆️, UK, that my explorations shifted towards design! Since then I have been primarily involved with design research (with the occasional print), I have a PhD in Design 🎓 also from Lancaster where I discuss the presence of playfulness in design practice (PDF 📄 or read online 🌐). At Lancaster I’ve been lucky to work on some amazing projects with folks at Imagination, exploring my skills as a designer 📱, artist 🎨, programmer 👨🏾💻, and play enthusiast 🎲.
Currently I am an Education-Focused Lecturer at UNSW in Sydney, Australia. If you are interested in know more about the courses I convene/teach or my supervision areas I have them listed here, or we could schedule a chat. A large part of my work explores playful 👾 and sometimes philosophical 🧐 approaches towards understanding and solving design problems.
NB. The next part gets serious.
I design for both humans and more-than-humans. Curious?
Most design tends to take a human-centred approach towards problem solving, and rightly so. Most design tends to deal with humans after all. But many contemporary and future-focused technologies such as the Internet of Things or Artificial Intelligence don’t necessarily do.
Think about it, when you talk to Alexa are you talking to a human, or a representation of a human? Why should the design choices for Alexa be human-centred when they/she/her/it are not really human?
Did you just raise your eyebrow at my assigning possible gender representation to a smart assistant? It’s a convoluted discussion this more-than-human world which I explore in my work. I don’t say HCD is flawed or incorrect, in fact in the end you need to return to designing for humans. It’s about understanding conceptual models of reality that incorporate elements beyond humans. Simple or complex, we understand the world through experience. With more-than-human design perhaps we can look at the things around us from a different perspective. Perhaps even, their perspective.
More-than-humanness is an argument for looking beyond the veil of accepted reality, discussing the quantum, and approaching one’s humanness from an alternative angle.
But before I’m a designer, I’m a practicing visual artist and I co-founded the Inkster Print Studio in Lahore, Pakistan, with master printmaker Saad Ahmed. Artwork speaks a language we all understand but rarely communcate in. My works focus on the relationship one has with their past(s). Collective moments as trinkets gathered for their powers of attraction. These memories hold on to us such that the slightest shift of attention drifts one into elaborate reenactments of yester–days–years.
The meticulous nature of my works in charcoal, soot, and ink are a hommage to the love and devotion one gives to their past. But as these sickly sweet moments cling to us, they fester and bloat, taking on lives of their own. No longer the beautiful moments of before, they are haunting alien renactments of what were never achieved.
The sensational powers of these moments upon us are fermented experiences coming from our obsessions of hoarding these yester–days. Perhaps we intend them to empathise with ourselves in our most vulnerable of times. This unfathomable attachment with our fermented pasts, a reminder of our human natures.
My work envisions idealised spaces such as those seen in photographs but have been left to evolve in memoriam. The sickly sweetness of these fermented moments reverbrating over time to the point that they appear beautiful, yet unrecognisable alien extensions of ourselves.
NB. Enough serious talk.
Irrespective of how I approach a problem I bring these fundamental understandings of the world with me. Design problems or empty plates (i.e. printmaking plates) for me they are playgrounds where I can enact unique manners of play and objective observation. magical worlds where obscurities come together. You might be able to see this in my work drawing insect portraits 🐞, or trying to predict the supernatural lives of smart objects 🌌.
As an artist, I’m fascinated by human experiences.
As a designer, I’m fascinated by human/non-human interactions.
As a human, I’m fascinated by play in everyday experiences.
If you would like to discuss further or perhaps work with me in any capacity you may contact me 📧 (the link at the bottom works fine as well). Feel free to reach out to me as a content writer.