Every once in a while you meet one of those people who can just do it all, and do it well. It took me about 3 seconds to discover this in Eman after she joined us on the digital marketing team at Roots.
Behind her remarkable talent is a world's worth of kindness nestled away into her single being, affecting everything and everyone she comes into contact with. Whether it be through conversation about creative work, the complexities of life, or the latest episode of The Good Wife, Eman always leaves me inspired. Read on, you'll see.


Describe what brought you to what you're doing now.
Like most kids, I wanted to be a million different things growing up. However, I was always interested in computer science. This was mostly because I grew up seeing my dad flourish in that industry, and through spending time with him, I found programming really fascinating. I was 10 years old when my dad gave me my first HTML book, and I've been making websites ever since. For the longest time I also wanted to be a filmmaker. Any chance I'd get I was making movies. Ultimately, that was a big factor in my deciding to major in graphic design at York University. Design encompassed all my interests, but I was still able to do a minor in film so I could learn the practical elements. Upon finishing my undergraduate degree, I knew I wasn't finished with school just yet, so I decided to jump into a Masters of Design, specializing in Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCAD. In terms of work, I've been with Roots Canada for a little over a year now as one of their web designers. I've also spent the past two years working with the 2015 Pan Am Games as a part of the Toronto Organizing Committee providing preliminary feedback on events and strategies for some of their future marketing campaigns. It's been amazing seeing that work come to life around the city! Otherwise, I've enjoyed taking on freelance work with the National Film Board of Canada, the David Suzuki Foundation, and the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Before we dive deep, what exactly is multidisciplinary design?
Not entirely easy to explain, but a good comparison to what a multidisciplinary designer does is similar to that of a bumble bee. Bees cross-pollinate, covering a lot of ground, transferring pollen from one flower to another (usually within the same species of flower). Designers who are multidisciplinary in their process essentially jump from one area of practice to another, ranging from anywhere in technology to science, or the arts, and combine them all together under the same umbrella in order to take in the "bigger picture" of an entire system. This helps ensure that the final result, whatever it is, has explored more than one outcome or output.


What about multidisciplinary design makes you so passionate?
I believe that we all have a responsibility. Everyone has the potential to be a force for good in one way or another. I've always had an appreciation for having the ability to tell really powerful stories and moving people to take some kind of action for the better. Eventually, the deeper I got into learning about design, the more I realized that in it's simplest form - design is a vehicle for communication. Whatever shape it takes in the end, design is all about establishing the process of sharing that story. Embedded in design lies the great potential for powerful advocacy and meaningful action. The multidisciplinary nature of my work allows me to combine a bunch of different specializations, skills, and practices, before achieving an all encompassing result.

"Think globally, act locally." Where did you find that phrase and what does it mean to you?
I am constantly inspired by people. Growing up, I had a lot of exposure to different cultures due to extensive moving around Canada and abroad - 33 times to date. No matter where I went, I always felt a sense of empathy towards understanding people. It doesn't take long for the injustices others feel to weigh heavily on my own perceptions. The biggest driver for what I do is simply helping people. And while we are extremely fortunate to live in one of the best countries in the world, I also believe it is for the same reason that vulnerable issues can go undetected for so long beneath the disguise of living in Canada. I believe we have a duty as citizens of Canada to do what we can to strengthen the nation from the inside out. The concept of thinking globally and acting locally is not new. Documented evidence suggests that it's been around for at least a century. I wanted to take it a step further, fully adopting it as my motto for everything in life. It's a central component in the thesis work I'm currently conducting. The intended goal is for every country to progressively commit to addressing, evaluating, and improving upon their own needs first.



What are some of the projects you're currently working on?
My biggest undertaking right now is my thesis project, to be completed by December of this year (hopefully!). I'll be focusing on the concept that "charity starts at home". The foundation of my thesis is about defining the barriers that prevent our empowerment as a community, and providing the education needed to raise engagement levels and create change. Economic, social, and political factors interact in the perpetuation of poverty, marginalization, and oppression. And while these are all multi-dimensional and complex issues, positive change can certainly be created if it is through actions that address their multi-dimensional nature.

I also currently have three entries in the Cities of Tomorrow Competition, all of which have made it to the People's Choice Award voting round!



The aim of this project is to develop a
low-cost, replicable program that would create jobs accessible to young people and enhance the skills of our future workforce.


Affordable and accessible fares for everyone in the city is critical. Transit fare should not merely be of financial value for citizens who want to be transported from one part of the city to the next. The value of the fare should connect more deeply to citizens’ ability to connect with each other, explore their city, and improve it.


We're aiming to create dedicated innovation hubs designed to work directly with both the private sector and not-for-profit sectors to create joint solutions that solve public sector problems while generating
income and profit.


When you look ahead, what sort of change do you hope to bring through your work?
I strive for the collaborative and complex kind of change! We are never alone in any circumstance, and when we join forces we are all the more powerful for it. Change is tricky, because it's always happening. I want my work to constantly tap into human nature, but beyond that - human kindness! I want to inspire people to take matters into their own hands when it comes to improving any situation in their life or the lives of others. I want to give the vulnerable a voice to help them reach their goals. We are all capable alone, but more compelling together.


You are probably the busiest person I know. When you're not designing, volunteering, or working on your thesis, what are you doing?
I'm a huge sports fan - playing and watching. The Blue Jays have been (and will always be) my #1 team! I absolutely love long-distance running. It's my biggest stress reliever and gives me time to clear my mind. Another activity I find relaxing is nail-art. I've always had a huge nail polish obsession. I remember coming across a blog on Tumblr dedicated to nail-art when I was 17, and I've been creating different patterns and designs on nails since then. I also like to be outdoors as much as I can, anywhere by the water is my ultimate happy place!

Current emoji of choice?
You don't need to know me for very long to learn about my love for all things sparkly. My most used emoji would definitely be this one. I feel like it makes everything seem more magical.


Published on July 9, 2015
Interview & photography by Marlee Maclean