Lebanese American University


Mega win for MINI competition

Graphic Design student Lama Assaf wins MINI Mega Toy competition launched by MINI automotive marque.

Third year graphic design student Lama Assaf was recently announced as the winner of the MINI Mega Toy competition organized by MINI, the British automotive marque owned by BMW.

The story started when 15 plain toys were distributed in June to students from five Lebanese universities.

“We wanted to get the help of arts students to come out with design ideas that reflect what MINI is all about,” says Natalie Khalife, marketing and communications manager at Bassoul Heneine Lebanon - importer of BMW and MINI - the group behind the competition.

Once submitted, the designs were directly sent to BMW-MINI head office in Germany where the Design Department was in charge of the final selection. “The criteria for judging was based on concept, creativity, originality, skills and techniques,” says Khalife.

According to Maria Bahous, visiting instructor in the School of Architecture and Design who supervised Assaf during this adventure, “Design agencies realize the effort students put in their work and thus look at the candidate as a risk taker and an ambition designer who strives to shine against others.”

Conversely, competitions are generally a great learning experience for students, she adds, as they give their best creative output driven by the desire to win but also and mainly for the fun of it.

Proud of her achievement, Assaf says, “As soon as I saw the toy, I knew that I wanted to create a futuristic design. Then I got my inspiration from the MINI Cooper dashboard.”

001, as Assaf named her toy, is based on the MINI cooper interior design and producers’ approach that she abstracted into graphical form and shape.

While the idea emerged quite quickly, the production process turned out to be a lot harder than expected. “Every class, from my foundation year to my typography class and even 3-D animation class, helped,” Assaf said.

According to Bahous, Assaf’s toy visually translates what a designer should do best: Pick the most powerful concept and present it in a new innovative approach.

“I feel proud, it is a nice feeling to see the progress, and self achievement of a student you have been following up for years,” Bahous said.

For Assaf nothing could have been possible without the support of devoted instructors. “I would like to thank my teachers who had to put up with me throughout this project and who gave me the push I needed to reach my goals, with pride.”

Besides winning a MINI for a week-end and an iPad 3, Assaf will have her toy displayed in showrooms and prime locations in the country.



001 is inspired by the dashboard of a MINI car and represents an extraterrestrial being that comes from a world, imagined by Assaf, where MINI is the only existing civilization.


The orange lines are an abstract representation of the map that links all the elements of a MINI dashboard together.


Reflecting the feeling one has when driving a MINI at night, in the dark, 001 silhouette disappears to show a mix of glowing abstract lines.


The techniques used by Assaf are an accumulation of what she has learned in her previous design courses, starting from her foundation year to packaging, the most advanced course she took.


Packaging teaches everything from deconstruction of shapes and objects, balance and layout, material selection, to the presentation of the item.


Candidates had one month to finalize their projects.


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