Project Foundry - Building a design & data ecosystem for creatives

Foundry website's mockup

About the initiative

Foundry is a nationwide transdisciplinary community of faculty, practitioners and students in Pakistan that helps people develop their creative abilities in the field of design and data.



  • Program Manager
  • Creative Director


3 months




  1. Problem Identification
  2. Online Presence & Branding
    1. Competitor Analysis
    2. User Research
    3. Ideation
    4. Wireframing
    5. User Testing
    6. Branding
    7. UI Design
  3. Supporting Intiatives
  4. Program Management

01. Problem Identification

With a recent wave of design and data enthusiasts in the region, Pakistan lacked a unifying platform that helps creatives to collaborate, learn and grow.

How might we..

design Pakistan’s first design and data center for interdisciplinary creatives?

Foundry Knowledge Map

Initial knowledge map

02. Online Presence & Branding

We realized an online presence is crucial for such an initiative, and in the beginning it may only be feasible to run the inititative virtually due to the global pandemic (COVID-19).

Hence, my team and I decided to focus our energies on creating a website and working on the branding to begin with.

02a. Competitor Analysis

To gain inspiration and identify possible gaps, we studied 6 well-known design labs/centers. We decided to list areas of focus which would streamline our competitor analysis phase. We wanted to know about:

  • Target audience
  • Learning opportunities
  • Work opportunities / involvement of clients
  • Networking opportunities

We then created a competitor matrix.

Foundry Competitor Matrix

Competitor Matrix

  • Student-driven management is most sustainable.
  • Internships and student client services is a win-win for both parties. Students gain real world experience and clients are introduced to creative groups at a low cost.
  • Events and activities are crucial to keep a center alive.
  • Mentorship by industrialists with a possibility to overlook client projects ensures quality is maintained.

02b. User Research

In order to design contextually, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 7 students and faculty members at LUMS to understand their current needs and desires.

We asked them open-ended questions like what their ambitions are and what they think is missing from their student life that would help them grow professionally.

Foundry User Research Image 1 Foundry User Research Image 2 Foundry User Research Image 3

02c. Ideation

We began an ideation session focused on the “How Might We” statement: How might we design Pakistan’s first design and data center for interdisciplinary creatives?

Foundry Ideation

Ideation session

We came up with some innovative ideas (pink notes in the image above) including Do It Yourself (DIY) - a short focused design challenge; Networking Lounge - a virtual lounge for students to connect with industry professionals etc.

Creating an optimal Site Map

This was perhaps the most challenging part of the project. We had set off to design a huge platform, yet we strived to create an intuitive skeleton for easy navigation. After several iterations, we proposed the following:

Foundry Ideation

Proposed Site Map

  • We decided to distinguish design from data events in order to guide users.
  • Since collaborations are at the heart of Foundry, we dedicated a seperate section to it.
  • Future was a theme suggested by a professor based on the idea of working on projects which revolve around innovative solutions for the future. We had decided to further break this down to subthemes including Healthcare, Education, Public Safety and Gender.
  • We divided Resources into Foundry Goodies and Handpicked. The former would include exclusive resources made by Foundry and the latter would list curated external resources.

Creating an Information Architecture

Next, designing an Information Architecture (IA) allowed us to explore different sections within all pages and iterate with different layout combinations till we reached an ideal easy-to-navigate structure. To check out the IA, visit my Miro board.

Foundry Information Architecture

Information Architecture

Creating a Content Structure

Before jumping into prototyping, we decided to lay out our information architecture and form a content structure which would aid us in designing wireframes.

Foundry Content Structure

Content Structure

At this point, we were able to join the dots of how the site would be laid out structure and content-wise, and which sections would require what kind of component (paragraph, testimonials, accordion, image, embedded video to name a few). Hence, we were ready to jump into prototyping phase.

02d. Wireframing

When designing wireframes on Figma, we made sure to keep a copy of our information architecture and content structure open for reference. Throughout the process, we were mindful of keeping sections as intuitive as possible.

Foundry Wireframing


We designed 30+ unique interactive wireframes and were ready to test them with users.

02e. User Testing

We conducted wireframe testing with 4 users (3 students and 1 faculty member). Feedback we received included:

  • It’s unclear what design projects include. Are these student projects or professional projects done for clients since you focus on both?
  • Most of the site seems to be text-heavy, I’m not sure if people would want to read so much.

Incorporating User Feedback

We went back to our wireframes and decided to split projects between (1) Student Projects and (2) Foundry Projects - which would include client work.

We realized the importance of keeping cognitive load of users to a minimum - hence we used a number of layouts involving split screens (text + visual aids), catering to Pakistani community which is typically not fond of reading.

02f. Branding

We began the branding process by delineating the core values at the heart of Foundry. While doing so, we extended our initial knowledge map.

Foundry Ideation

Extension of Knowledge Map

Next, we created multiple moodboards to explore the general direction and look and feel of the brand.

Foundry Ideation

General direction of the initiative

Foundry Ideation

Brand’s look and feel

Moodboards helped us finalize a color scheme and understand the direction our brand can possibly take.

Our color scheme consisted of a range of vibrant colors:

  • Rose - reflecting energy and passion
  • Honey - reflecting playfulness and happiness
  • Teal - reflecting trustworthiness and reliability
  • Navy - reflecting inspiration and wisdom
  • Pearl - reflecting optimism
Foundry's Color Scheme

We decided on the name FOUNDRY for the initiative.

Foundry (noun): a factory where metal is melted and cast into different shapes.

-Oxford Dictionary

Metaphorically, Foundry is a shelter which aims to mould students by helping them unlock their creative abilities and preparing them to take on real-world challenges.

Foundry Meaning

Next, we brainstormed for logomark ideas. We explored modern, minimalistic styles which deemed appropriate for our target audience: students and professionals in a collaborative environment.

I started off by experimenting with basic shapes which form the letter ‘F’. I explored ways in which these shapes can be overlapped, subtracted and rearranged.

Foundry Logo Iterations

The team loved the idea of playing around with the letter ‘F’, however, none of the logomarks felt natural and suited the idea behind Foundry.

I kept referring back to Foundry’s values and sole purpose: a shelter open to different disciplines aimed towards helping students grow creatively.

It is then that the idea of exploring negative space struck me.

Foundry Logo Concept
Foundry Logo Explained
Foundry Logo Variations

Our art-style consisted of the following attributes:

  • Gender-neutral: To be inclusive, we decided to stick to character illustrations which are gender neutral.
  • Abstract: We blended basic shapes together in an abstract fashion to evoke feelings of playfulness.
  • Minimal: We elimiated the details of our artwork in order to keep our style minimal and modern.
Foundry Art Style

Our typographic choices consisted of the following attributes:

  • Clean: We avoided decorative typefaces which are difficult to read; and decided to stick to clean, legible type.
  • Sans-Serif: Since our brand is mostly targetted towards students and aspiring professionals, we were leaned towards sans-serif as opposed to the more formal serif fonts.
Foundry Typography

We decided to use real images that our photography team at LUMS had taken during past events, instead of relying on stock images for most sections in order to paint an accurate picture for our visitors.

Foundry Typography

The way we wanted to communicate to our users through voice, tone and purpose was:

  • Enthusiastic - creating a sense of excitment among the community.
  • Action-oriented - using simple, direct language which directs users towards their goals and leaves no room for ambiguity.
  • Authentic - being honest about ourselves in order to gain users’ trust.


“DIYs are short, focused design challenges for individuals to practice their design skills in order to solve real-world problems. So, grab a pen and paper and get your creative juices running!”


Foundry Action Oriented Language Example


Foundry Action Oriented Language Example

02g. UI Design

Once the branding process was complete, we moved onto converting our wireframes into High Fidelity Prototypes on Figma, closely following our brand guidelines.

Foundry UI Design Banner
Foundry UI Design Screens

Once the high fidelity prototypes were ready, we coordinated with the engineering team using Slack and Trello. We closely worked with them to ensure the final output is pixel perfect.

To see the website in action, visit


03. Supporting Initiatives

Design and Data Lounge

We wanted Foundry to be more than an initiative, we wanted it to be a movement. Our team aimed to promote the culture of virtual meetups, design and data discussions, design jams and so much more!

The global pandemic (COVID-19) did not stop us from achieving our goals. I pitched the idea of a Virtual Networking Lounge which was met with a lot of enthusiasm from the community.

We decided to create a exclusive group on Linkedin called Design and Data Lounge which was open to design and data enthusiasts in Pakistan who come from diverse backgrounds including Art, Design, Communications, Computer Science, Business, and Social Sciences. The idea behind the group was to foster meaningful communication among students and professionals.

Design and Data Lounge Info Cards
Design and Data Lounge Logo

The team worked on some basic branding for the initiative, including the logo which is a combination of 2 D’s overlapping with the letter ‘F’, signifying that Design and Data Lounge is a Foundry-driven initiative.

Design & Data Lounge was a major success which grew to > 400 members within the first 3 weeks.

Feedback from the Design & Data Lounge community

Design Gupshup

In collaboration with Foundry, my teammates started a Discord Server called Design Gupshup (meaning ‘Design Conversations’ in Urdu).

Design Gupshup is a space for design enthusiasts to connect and have informal conversations about design. Within this community, there’s no such thing as ‘silly questions’ as we believe in growing together and lifting each other up.

Design Gupshup

04. Program Management

As a program manager, I was responsible for dealing with all top-level decisions including recruitment, finalizing events, forming an engagement strategy etc.

We launched Foundry on 28th April 2021 and my role shifted from being a Creative Director to a Program Manager. We received an overwhleming response from the community at the time of launch.

Feedback from the community right after launch

Bringing Foundry to life was only a small part of the big journey I was yet to embark upon.

I started off by forming a core team for which I conducted several interviews with students and professionals.

Foundry's Core Team Diagram

Forming Foundry’s Core Team

Following this, I created several engagement plans for Foundry for the first few months.

I realized that it’s cruical for Foundry to keep up with the hype, especially in the beginning, hence forming a tactful strategy was vital.

My team and I brainstromed for marketing and event ideas for the first 4-5 months. I then took over and created a tentative timeline for the upcoming events.

Foundry Management Plan
Foundry's Plan

Marketing Strategy and Plan for Upcoming Events

Foundry's Timeline

Timeline for initial events and engagement


Currently Foundry is being run according to plan by a talented group of students and professionals. I’m personally quite attached to this project because its vision aligns with my value to never stop learning.

I thoroughly enjoyed working on this project and got the opportunity to interact with incredibly talented people on the way. This project allowed me to come out of my shell and take full responsibility, including budget management, recruitment, helping individuals gain leadership skills and providing training to people from diverse backgrounds. I had to pull several all-nighters to make it happen, but in the end, it was so worth it!

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