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NYUAD Commencement Torch

Designing the symbol of our education to be in and of our city

NYUAD Commencement Torch

Designing the symbol of our education to be in and of our city

A silver torch, designed by Tiffany & Co., has been lit and carried at every NYU graduation since 1911. Erin (Meekhof) Collins ('14), Mariko Kuroda ('16), and Arfa Rehman ('15) formed a design team to create a parallel NYU Abu Dhabi torch to be carried at the first commencement in 2014 and every one since, passed from one graduating class to the next. They proposed two designs to be voted on by the student body, inspired by cultural elements of the city of Abu Dhabi but remaining true to the structure of the NYU torch.

Team Members

From the designers: "We want the NYUAD torch, the physical symbol of the education and knowledge that we have been given and also shaped ourselves, to be born here in Abu Dhabi. We want the torch to be in and of this city that has hosted us, challenged us, and embraced us over these past four years. Our design will be a work of love for our school and our city, and it will leave a powerful legacy for centuries to come."

"New York University’s spirit of knowledge and academic purpose is distilled in the icon of the torch, which is emblazoned in its logo and carried in its seal. A physical version of this emblem is used in NYU graduation ceremonies, as the oldest faculty member passes a lit silver torch to the youngest graduate, symbolizing the transferrance of the light of education.

The city of New York has a strong presence in this original torch. It refers to the Statue of Liberty, Tiffany & Co. designed and created it, and the elements of its design reflect the most iconic ornamentations and architecture of New York. NYU has always been “in and of the city,” the city acting as a vessel, defining and shaping an NYU education. The New York torch appropriately symbolizes this New York education.

But although we at New York University Abu Dhabi carry the same flame of knowledge that NYU has for two centuries, it now burns in another container. True to the spirit of NYU, our education has taken a shape distinctly tied to the city we live in, Abu Dhabi. The torch that we carry at our graduation should celebrate this truth. NYU Abu Dhabi is not a transplant, but something entirely new, rooted in the academic legacy of NYU and in the city and culture of Abu Dhabi. It would be untruthful to pass a replica torch, just as it would be untruthful to call NYU Abu Dhabi a knockoff of NYU. Our torch should have a shape that draws on the two traditions that flow into our university.

The first graduating class of NYU Abu Dhabi, its only alumni, would like to design and present the NYUAD torch as a gift to commemorate the moment when we finally become a complete university. We, the students, are particularly capable of designing the torch that will become the symbol of an NYU Abu Dhabi education: we understand what the university has been and we share the hopes of what it will become. We know the context and content of our education better than anyone, and we understand what this torch means.

New York University Abu Dhabi’s 2014 Commencement is not just a culmination of its first four years or the beginning of the senior class’s journey into the world: it is the commencement of New York University Abu Dhabi itself. NYU has carried a flame of knowledge for 183 years.This year, that flame will light a second torch in Abu Dhabi."

(notes from the Student Design Proposal, October 2013)

NYUAD Commencement Torch

Designing the symbol of our education to be in and of our city

Designers
Erin Collins, Mariko Kuroda, Arfa Rehman
Discipline
Product Design
Year
2014

A silver torch, designed by Tiffany & Co., has been lit and carried at every NYU graduation since 1911. Erin (Meekhof) Collins ('14), Mariko Kuroda ('16), and Arfa Rehman ('15) formed a design team to create a parallel NYU Abu Dhabi torch to be carried at the first commencement in 2014 and every one since, passed from one graduating class to the next. They proposed two designs to be voted on by the student body, inspired by cultural elements of the city of Abu Dhabi but remaining true to the structure of the NYU torch.

From the designers: "We want the NYUAD torch, the physical symbol of the education and knowledge that we have been given and also shaped ourselves, to be born here in Abu Dhabi. We want the torch to be in and of this city that has hosted us, challenged us, and embraced us over these past four years. Our design will be a work of love for our school and our city, and it will leave a powerful legacy for centuries to come."

"New York University’s spirit of knowledge and academic purpose is distilled in the icon of the torch, which is emblazoned in its logo and carried in its seal. A physical version of this emblem is used in NYU graduation ceremonies, as the oldest faculty member passes a lit silver torch to the youngest graduate, symbolizing the transferrance of the light of education.

The city of New York has a strong presence in this original torch. It refers to the Statue of Liberty, Tiffany & Co. designed and created it, and the elements of its design reflect the most iconic ornamentations and architecture of New York. NYU has always been “in and of the city,” the city acting as a vessel, defining and shaping an NYU education. The New York torch appropriately symbolizes this New York education.

But although we at New York University Abu Dhabi carry the same flame of knowledge that NYU has for two centuries, it now burns in another container. True to the spirit of NYU, our education has taken a shape distinctly tied to the city we live in, Abu Dhabi. The torch that we carry at our graduation should celebrate this truth. NYU Abu Dhabi is not a transplant, but something entirely new, rooted in the academic legacy of NYU and in the city and culture of Abu Dhabi. It would be untruthful to pass a replica torch, just as it would be untruthful to call NYU Abu Dhabi a knockoff of NYU. Our torch should have a shape that draws on the two traditions that flow into our university.

The first graduating class of NYU Abu Dhabi, its only alumni, would like to design and present the NYUAD torch as a gift to commemorate the moment when we finally become a complete university. We, the students, are particularly capable of designing the torch that will become the symbol of an NYU Abu Dhabi education: we understand what the university has been and we share the hopes of what it will become. We know the context and content of our education better than anyone, and we understand what this torch means.

New York University Abu Dhabi’s 2014 Commencement is not just a culmination of its first four years or the beginning of the senior class’s journey into the world: it is the commencement of New York University Abu Dhabi itself. NYU has carried a flame of knowledge for 183 years.This year, that flame will light a second torch in Abu Dhabi."

(notes from the Student Design Proposal, October 2013)

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