a translated symbol for a young university
A silver torch, designed by Tiffany & Co., has been lit and carried at every NYU graduation since 1911. I led the design team who created the 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. We proposed two designs to be voted on by the student body, both inspired by cultural elements of the city of Abu Dhabi but remaining true to the structure of the NYU torch.
I also created technical renderings for the chosen design and worked with suppliers to have the silver torch created in time for NYUAD's inaugural commencement ceremony.
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.
I also designed the stand that holds the torch onstage.