ENCODE (Egyptian Node for Collaborative DEsign ) is a “design research studio” that was founded in 2011 by a group of architects, Ebtissam Farid, Mohamed Zaghloul, and Ahmed Abouelkheir. They are challenging the conventional model of design production by cutting edge technologies, research, and collaboration between college tube education, practice, and manufacturers to AMATES create an international hub of design that can thrive in today’s economy. The team adopted new digitally-driven design processes, characterized by dynamic, open-ended, and unpredictable but consistent transformations of three-dimensional ideas, which are giving rise to new design possibilities, undertaking a unique strategy based on cutting edge technologies of CAD & CAM (Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing). Centered based upon the mathematical and material logic of Natural systems, Encode also investigates various digital and physical computational tools to explore innovative designs.

There is a real sense of urgency for a kind of critical design in the Middle East where they need to move from imitation to innovation. The design industry in the Middle East should be developed to be in front of the global market, especially that its communities are nowadays consuming design more than ever. For Encode design is not a noun, or synonym to ‘style, but rather a verb of production, problem-solving, and added value, and a holistic business process. The long-term aim of Encode is to establish an international private Academy of Design for education and production based on the local human capital and resources along with international collaboration. In addition encode challenges a critical design business agenda. Through collaboration with universities, factories, and clients, Encode offers to its clients; Architectural, interior, and furniture design services, educational workshops, and industrial prototypes.

During 18 months of intensive research and collaboration, Encode has established a new system of design and production in Egypt. The production has been tested through a number of venues including fabrication prototypes, architecture and interior design proposals, workshops, conference papers, publications, seminars, and Exhibitions. They presented their work for the first time within the framework of the exhibition ‘Design is a verb, organized by the Library of Alexandria’s Arts Centre; August 2012 where they presented a new design line “Ornamatics to develop new ways of presenting traditional Islamic patterns, through using mathematics and digital tools through a range of everyday objects. They also won the gold award at the Design + Industry competition hosted at the Furneaux Furniture Fair: Nov 2012, Cairo. And finally a very strong ending with a solo exhibition that summarizes Encode’s work and experiments at British Council Elagouza: Nov 2012. Encode also organized a series of seminars at the studio to promote the culture of computational design and to share ideas with peers and the public.

There is a huge opportunity for innovations where it lies in the evolution of design from individual working into a collaborative process of discovering what is next and make it happens. This attempt would have an enormous impact on the educational field where the emergence of a creative generation that will shape the future of the design industry as Encode hosts intensive workshops where the participants are exposed to a new learning environment emphasizing the concept of learning through making, collaboration and practical research instead of the dominant education patterns in the Middle East that lies on theoretical issues and individuality.
The emergence of a new kind of collaborative practices based on teamwork, collaborative intelligence, and interdisciplinary will inevitably depend upon reconfigurations of design production through collaborative practices more than individual masters. The collective intelligence of collaborators with the advent of digital and
telecommunication technologies; media; and economies of globalization will undoubtedly be more innovative than individual-based practices. Through collaborative research with students, practices, and manufacturers, design is conceived as a quantitative scientific strategy to solve community problems rather than mere qualitative luxury.

Ebtissam Mohamed Farid, PhD
Associate professor
Faculty of Fine Arts
Department of Architecture
Alexandria University