M.I.D. Alum Biniam Kebede at Global Grad Show

A version of this article first appeared on our.risd.edu.

Recent RISD graduates presented work as part of Global Grad Show (November 12–17), an annual event that runs as part of Dubai Design Week. One of the largest and most diverse gatherings of its kind, the show presents works from graduate students representing 61 nationalities and 100 colleges and universities around the world.

Organized by British curator Brendan McGetrick, the exhibition presents projects ranging from apps to speculative design proposals to luxury goods. 

Concerned about the scarcity of face-to-face interaction between friends in the US, Biniam Kebede MID 18 showed Letsqube, a digital platform that allows users to crowdfund social gatherings. 

“I looked to Ethiopian gatherings and how people dedicate money towards occasions that bring groups together,” he explained. “In the US, money encourages certain meetings: gym fees encourage people to attend more regularly and the fear of a late fee can increase the value someone puts on a service or dedicated time.” After encouraging his peers at RISD to adopt this custom, Kebede developed Letsqube as his graduate thesis project.


Kebede is currently working on an app for the concept as he seeks involvement from users, developers and investors. “I want to encourage people to spend more quality time with one another and Letsqube is an easy and accessible tool to do that. It’s about not taking time—or friends—for granted,” he said. “It’s about wellbeing, community and happiness.”

Maureen Buttenheim