Next Big Design: Fuse U Spotlight: Mo Saad, Chairman, FUSE University

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fuse U Spotlight: Mo Saad, Chairman, FUSE University

As we continue to grow the "Fuse Family," one of our endeavors is to help to prepare the next generation of brand strategists and designers. With this in mind, Fuse University was created.

Designed specifically for students of brand and design, this co-located event provides a sampling of the FUSE experience. A taste of some of the worlds' leading designers and branding experts share their story modified to fit the needs of today's brand and design students. This curriculum is designed to showcase the business value of Design & Brands and is a real-world complement to the student's rigorous academic work - all for a student friendly tuition.

Last year, Fuse welcomed students from the masters in branding program at the School of Visual Arts as the inaugural class of Fuse University. Mo Saad was one of those students and will be returning this year as chair of the program.

For a peek into what we can expect at the event, we interviewed Mo about the Fuse University experience, designing the Fuse U logo, signing "Glee"-style with Debbie Millman (video below), and what he has been up to in the past year. Read a transcript of the interview here.

Next Big Design: To start off, you first got involved with Fuse University when you designed our logo last year – can you tell us about that process?

Considering that the SVA Masters in Branding students were to become the inaugural class of FUSE University, we were given the privilege to have input in the identity design. A few of us designers thought up some initial ideas and we later presented them to FUSE organizers Kim Rivielle and Krista Vazquez. My approach was chosen to become the identity of FUSE University.

Next Big Design: And you were part of our “inaugural class” at Fuse U –what was the Fuse experience like for you?

FUSE was definitely a very satisfying experience. My first thought when I got there was “Wow! I get to play with the big boys now!” There was opportunity to network and connect with pretty amazing people and a chance to casually converse with designers and strategists whom I look up to. I have to admit that I was fearful at first of being stereotyped as a student, but that soon changed as I realized an overwhelming interest in FUSE University from the attendees. Over lunch one day we shared a fresh perspective on how branding is shaping our culture today and that resulted in many business cards being traded back and forth! FUSE University is an outlet for fresh thought and what better place to do it than at the FUSE conference?

And I must add that there were plenty of great moments at FUSE last year from the after parties to exploring Chicago and making new friends, but of course, my most memorable moment of all was definitely our participation in Debbie Millman’s GLEE intro.

Next Big Design: In the year since, what have you been working on? Did you hear or experience anything at Fuse 2011 that inspired you?

Since FUSE, I went on to graduate with a Masters Degree in Branding from the School of Visual Arts and co-authored and published a book titled “Brand Bible: The Complete Guide to Building, Designing and Sustaining Brands” alongside my fellow SVA classmates and FUSE University alumni.

As for my time at FUSE, I guess it might be cliché to say, but every moment is truly a learning experience and this conference was no exception. Luke Williams really ingrained the idea of disruptive thinking into my mind and I now challenge myself on every project to push the boundaries. Michio Kaku opened my eyes to the reality of technological advances and assured me that the sky is no longer a limit. Ian Schrager, Karim Rashid, Jonathan Harris and Marco Beghin all showed me how important the “human” touch is in creating meaningful brand experiences and I carry that with me always now.

Next Big Design: Can you tell us about any projects you’re working on now?

I can’t get into details really, but I just finished working on a naming project for NIVEA as well as a little project for OREO cookies in celebration of it’s 100th anniversary.

On a more personal note though, I’ve just joined Pinterest, even though I swore I wouldn’t, considering how much time social media consumes out of my workday! But I caved! I’m creating a collection of “No Parking” signs that are scattered around my home country of Lebanon. I recently developed a fascination with these signs that are beautifully hand painted in Arabic script on almost every nook and cranky. What can I say? I picked up a weird hobby.

Next Big Design: Where do you look for creative inspiration?

Inspiration is everywhere, but I mostly find it in people. Art can inspire. Cities can inspire. Design can inspire. But it’s mostly the way people talk about their experiences and how they form stories out of these experiences that inspires me the most. One of the best advices given to me recently is to surround myself with interesting and diverse people.... and I’m not just talking about intellectual people. It’s more about being around those who’ve seen and done things; people who have stories to share. It’s priceless.



Are you a branding or design student? There's still time to join us at Fuse University 2012, Register here.

Plus, become a fan of Fuse University on Facebook for event updates, photos and more or watch the #FuseUni hashtag on twitter for live tweets from the event.

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