srb | eng

Form Follows Culture, Nada Elkharashi, Turkey

photo credits: Nebojša Babić

A new set of everyday drinking objects examines cultural understandings and makes them part of its essential qualities to guide a new, improved, and healthier daily routine. Each triggers an embedded meaning, causing the user to react and respond to cultural traditions and values principles. Each re-imagines a healthier, more mindful everyday world, advancing the quality of life and increasing the overall well-being of individuals and communities for better cultural development. The design approach draws attention to the relationship between how we drink water and the effect of water on our bodies. The form of drinking in a sitting posture in which water is consumed has a massive effect on the human body, as it helps absorb most of the benefits of water as it passes through our body. Following cultural traditions, it is advised to drink water in a slow manner; have one sip, then breathe, then sip, then breathe, then sip, then breathe. This drinking technique in pauses allows the water to be slowly absorbed by the body, move through the body’s natural passages, and ensure all of the water’s benefits are delivered to the organs and flushing out impurities. If we drink too quickly, the body produces a protective response. It detects a sudden expansion and anticipates an increase in blood volume, and then protects itself by sending the excess volume directly to the kidneys to be excreted, even if the body has not yet reached full hydration. It is also advised not to breathe into the vessel. The breathing pauses are prompted to be taken outside the drinking object. The wisdom behind this principle is that it lessens the possibility of exhaled carbon dioxide being dissolved back into the water, where it forms carbonic acid. Over time, an increased level of carbonic acid can damage tissues and imbalance the metabolic system. Each slow gulp is an opportunity to refocus our consciousness and positively impact our mental and physical health. It denotes that everyday drinking objects should not be thought of as detached things stored up in an outside world but should be seen as stimuli whose character and distinguishing features are determined by their meanings. 

The project has been developed during Masters of Fine Arts in Design Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University of the Arts in Qatar, academic year 2020/2021,under the advisory of Marco Bruno and Yasmeen Suleiman / Reader: Rab McClure.


Nada Elkharashi is an Interdisciplinary Designer, and a Design Researcher focused on creating thought-provoking experiences and realities. Her work lies at the intersection of materiality, cultural philosophy, and human ecology. In particular, her current research— published in VCU Scholars, employs natural materials and handmade techniques to imbue everyday objects with cultural insight that, in turn, stimulate and inform behavioral culture advancements.

She is skilled in understanding biological data to inform digital production, interactive visualizations, storytelling sensorial exhibitions, circular everyday furniture, and products.
Her past research has explored the charging experience of devices through Geobacter sulphureousness, a bacterium that builds electrically conductive protein nanowires, through assembled layers that provide the environment and surface area necessary to generate electricity from the ambient humidity in the air. Thus, promote social mindfulness towards ewaste, particularly in areas often characterized as highly employable matter in technology-based hardware.

Her other work intends to address the post-revolution disenfranchised population’s informality and fragmentation issues through testing the feasibility of reclaimed materials as a tool to advocate for vocational narratives and emotional responses. Her other projects tackled various interdisciplinary topics in bioplastics waste formation, cultural authenticity, habitual behavior, and urban behaviorist  research, exhibiting her works around Qatar.

Nada holds a Bachelor’s degree in Interior Architecture Honors— BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Arts with a full scholarship from Hamad Bin Khalifa for academic merit and excellence, and a Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Design Studies—MFA, from Virginia Commonwealth University with a received graduate fellowship from the Dean of the Graduate School for academic achievements.


Instagram: @by.nadak