KARACHI: Aqsa Ajmal, an industrial design graduate from the NUST School of Art, Design & Architecture (SADA), made headlines by securing a slot amongst six global finalists for the prestigious Lexus Design Award in January this year.
She has earned the honour of being the first Pakistani to achieve the milestone with her novel project ‘Pursewit,’ a sewing machine for the visually-impaired.
Lexus announced its finalists for the 2020 edition in the last week of January, from a record-setting 2042 entries from around 79 countries. The proposals were selected on the basis of their expression of three key principles of the automobile brand: Anticipate, Innovate and Captivate, with an emphasis on design that leads to a better tomorrow.
Ajmal’s ‘Pursewit’ is ergonomically designed – being developed with specially- embedded features that allow the differently-abled from a lower economic background to operate it without any hassle.
Ajmal provided a lowdown of her journey from uncertainty to success – which was certainly not earned overnight. “Honestly, I knew very little about industrial design before joining NUST. I explored a few fields and was unsure about which programme to pursue,” she confessed. “Initially, I struggled with my grades a lot and at numerous occasions, I considered giving up. But gradually, I found my pace and began to settle. As time progressed and with thorough determination, I found myself constantly vested in various domains of my degree.”
Ajmal then recalled a neighbour and friend that, after a devastating accident, had lost her eyesight. “It was very difficult for her to come to terms with how she couldn’t pursue her studies anymore. Not to mention, special education and equipment such as braille in Pakistan are quite expensive.”
This gave rise to the young engineer’s desire to build a machine that could empower not only her neighbour but every visually-impaired person out there. “I wanted to make her feel valuable, and that inspired me to create a concept which would help generate employment opportunities for her and individuals liker her.”
Ajmal then went on to explain how her intentions led her to Lexus. “After my graduation, I went to Egypt for an internship. When I returned, I came across the Lexus Design Award and applied for it. Lexus announced its six finalists in the middle of December, and from a record-setting group, I was among them! Following this, I got a chance to attend an exclusive mentorship programme in New York from world class designers.”
The youngster also been invited to the Milan Design Week 2020, where she will be presenting her concept to even more people. “My aim is to create a functional prototype for the design week and attract individuals or companies who’d provide the necessary resources in making this a plausible phenomenon – which is easily accessible in the market.”
Ajmal concluded that doing this would also provide her with the opportunity of highlighting the demographic that can benefit from such initiatives. “This could affect communities at large. Involvement at a general level may lead to increased awareness at a political level, spur financial support for the projects and help advancement.”
She reinstated that the government and non-profit organisations are investing in projects like these to create more employment opportunities. Thus, more people should come forward with similar ideas and empower the nation as a whole.