Alumna brings service design to local market
Maryam Al-Semaitt, a Qatari entrepreneur and alumna of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q), has set up a new company, Makery, bringing the world of service design to the local market in Qatar. The start-up entrepreneur is coupling her business acumen and passion for design to offer local creatives the opportunity to bring their ideas to life by providing them with resources such as laser cutters and 3D printers.
Al-Semaitt’s passion for creativity and design began to flourish while she was a student at CMU-Q. Although she earned her degree in business administration, Al-Semaitt also had a deep interest in design and architecture.
“In a year, Makery has really evolved. I feel we are now heading in the direction we always wanted to go, which is service design. That is what drives us and was always the initial inspiration behind Makery. I look forward to what’s to come as people in Qatar are more familiar with service design and are seeking out our services. There is a higher demand for what we do now,” she explained.
“I had always been interested in the creative side of things, so I decided to take architecture minor along with a lot of design classes, which I really enjoyed. At that stage I really wasn’t sure how the design aspect would end up complementing my business major. I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to study towards both my passions at CMU-Q,” Al-Semaitt continued.
After graduating in May 2011, Al-Semaitt pursued a master’s degree in service design at the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London. “It was a good choice for me, as it is a good mix of design and business, both of which I’m passionate about,” she said. “We are definitely moving towards a multi-disciplinary global economy where people with multidisciplinary backgrounds are in demand across all industries.”
Spending two years in London introduced Al-Semaitt to an array of design methods and creative outlets she had not encountered in Qatar. Seeing the wealth of media readily available to artists and designers in the English capital inspired her to make the same creative opportunities available to creatives in Qatar. She and RCA classmate, Nawar Al-Mutlaq, returned home and started to make their dream a reality.
“After completing my master’s, my business partner and I were so inspired by the thriving creative scene in London. Returning home, we wanted to set something up that would give creatives a dedicated space and the tools to be able to bring their ideas to life. That’s how Makery was born,” she told. Al-Semaitt also works as a program development service designer at Qatar Foundation.
“We realized how challenging it is to make things in Qatar, whether it be through certain materials or digital tools. So we said, why not establish a fab lab – a place where you can have 3D printer, laser cutter and help materialize your ideas into something tangible. We pitched our idea to Qatar Business Incubation Centre and we were accepted to be incubated through their program,” said Al-Semaitt.
“After entering the incubation program, we soon realized the demand and knowledge of digital fabrication is still in its infancy in Qatar. It is a very niche market. So we decided to take a step back. Nawar and I are both service designers so we look at user-centric design and take that into account.”
In September, the pair was selected for the Doha Fire Station’s artists-in-residence program. The initiative, funded by Qatar Museums, gives local artists individual studio space and a monthly stipend, and culminates in an exhibition at the Fire Station.