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Furniture Design and Making for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

A 16 week intensive professional design and making course in Abu Dhabi

2024 registrations are now open


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MAKE, in collaboration with the American University of Sharjah, invites aspiring furniture designers from the region and internationally to participate in this unique professional programme in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

The Athath Fellowship is a 16-week intensive professional furniture design and making programme for aspiring entrepreneurs. Delivered in three phases, the programme consists of two complementary modules: furniture design and commercial strategy. Final outcomes include the creation of a commercially viable furniture prototype at full scale, and a foundational knowledge to develop preliminary commercial plans for the design. Fellows will be introduced to a range of topics from design thinking, fabrication techniques, detailing, and material selection, to material sourcing strategies, cost analysis, marketing and sales, target audience analysis, and pricing.

The call is open to individuals with a creative portfolio, not limited to furniture or construction art forms.

From 7th September 2024 to 14th December 2024
An end of programme showcase is planned during February 2025

A 16 week taught course with unlimited access to the fabrication workshop. 

Programme cost is 9,950 AED inclusive of VAT. 


MAKE’s facility in Mina Zayed, Abu Dhabi

Places on the Athath Fellowship are limited. To find out more about the participants we’re looking for, please read carefully the selection criteria here

Fellows will receive a certificate of completion issued jointly by American University Sharjah and MAKE.

Key Outcomes of this Programme

Participants in the Athath Fellowship will:

Acquire skills in commercial strategies, learning to design market-ready products that have a competitive edge.

Join a committed creative network and community of makers through the Fellowship.

Develop, design, and fabricate a key furniture piece that is commercially viable.

Gain technical, digital and analog skills for production, manufacturing and, assembly.

Learn how to design products for manufacturing and retail.

Acquire knowledge in material sourcing and engaging with local suppliers and fabricators.

Director of Studies
Ammar Kalo

The Director of Studies is Award Winning international Furniture Designer and Architect Ammar Kalo, with guest lectures from critically acclaimed international brands and product designers.

Ammar Kalo is a designer, researcher, and educator based in the UAE. His work interrogates the relationship between digital technology and traditional craft and has received multiple international and local awards, including the ‘Emerging Designer’ award from Harper’s Bazaar Interiors.

Ammar is an Associate Professor and the Director of Labs at the College of Architecture Art and Design, American University of Sharjah. His research and teaching focuses on robotic fabrication, furniture design, and design-build courses. Learn more

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Commercial Strategy Mentor
Kiran Sajwani

Kiran Sajwani is a senior design strategist and researcher, focusing on design-led innovation for strategy, services, and experiences.


She merges design methodology with business strategy to help clients explore creative challenges, build design capabilities, and reimagine user experiences. She has served as a consultant for clients in various industries, including government, transportation, education, sports, and hospitality, advising senior leadership on strategic innovation and digital transformation projects.


Kiran has an MBA in Strategy and Innovation from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Science in Business from Champlain College. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the College of Architecture, Art and Design at the American University of Sharjah. Learn more

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Appl. Requ.

Programme Structure


Before the program begins, a one-day intensive, hands-on training session on the basic use of selected equipment and tools at MAKE is scheduled.

Seminars (1.5 hours)

Throughout these phases, seminars are scheduled every other week, insights are gained from local design entrepreneurs, furniture makers and professionals from the creative industry.

Phase I: Intro & Concept 

4 weeks in duration

Week 1
Programme Introduction
2-day intensive design workshop that introduces the fellows to a series of exercises in design thinking and sketching.

Weeks 2-4
From Concept to Product
Studio sessions* (Saturdays, 6 hours)
Concept and design development
with Director of Studies. Business session is scheduled on week 4.

*Design review concluding Phase

Phase II: Detailing & Prototyping

3 weeks in duration

Weeks 5-7

Development, Details and Fabrication

Studio sessions* (Saturdays, 6 hours)
With the focus on fabrication methods, manufacturing and material potential, the production of to scale prototypes and working towards a 1:1 scale.

Group and one-on-one business and Marketing strategy sessions are planned to take part on studio days and scheduled separately.

*Design review concluding Phase

Phase III: Production

8 weeks in duration

Weeks 8-15


Studio sessions* (Saturdays, 6 hours)
Transitioning ideas and partial details into a fully developed 1:1 final prototype, in addition to one-on-one sessions that provide guidance on business plans.

*Design review concluding Phase


1 week in duration

A showcase is scheduled to conclude the programme, where all fellows present their final prototypes.

The programme will take place in MAKE, Port Zayed, Abu Dhabi, UAE


The Athath Fellowship is one of the excellent initiatives from MAKE that aims to inject new design business talent into the global industry of furniture design and manufacturing.

Dr Pradeep Sharma

Director of Arts, Culture and Heritage

Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation

Do you need help or additional information?

Do you need help or additional information?

The Athath Fellowship is delivered by

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MAKE is part workshop, part lab, part studio and part garage. Our wide range of professional-grade machinery, tools and software include 2D and 3D design software, laser-cutters, large-format printers, wood and metal-working equipment, milling and fabricating machines, and more. 

We welcome makers of all ages and capabilities, from absolute beginners to professional designers.

Learn more


American University of Sharjah (AUS) was founded in 1997 by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi. It has come to represent the very best in teaching and research, accredited internationally and recognized by employers the world over for creating graduates equipped with the knowledge, skills and drive to lead in the 21st century.

Learn more

The Athath Fellowship is supported by


The Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation’s mission is “to invest in the future of the United Arab Emirates by investing in its people.” To that end, it develops and supports strategic initiatives in the areas of Art, Culture and Heritage; Early Childhood Development; and Health. Established in 2010, the SHF is the family foundation of Her Highness Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan.

Learn more



Copenhagen design house Fritz Hansen is recognised as one of the pioneers in modern furniture design and the ‘scandi aesthetic’. Established in 1872, the brand collaborates with acclaimed designers such as Arne Jacobsen, Hans J. Wegner and Verner Panton, continuing the philosophy that ‘a single piece of furniture can beautify an entire room or building’.

Learn more

* Supporters of classes 2021 and 2022

* Supported classes o

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