Three public spaces in downtown Amman have been temporarily re-purposed as platforms to promote contemporary design from Jordan and the wider region. This is Amman Design Week, a first-time consolidation of the kingdom’s artistic capabilities, established and emerging, and the excellent choreography of its exhibits rivals that in any world-class city.
Supported by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, and with corporate sponsorship from Manaseer Group and Zain, Amman Design Week will be an annual event to encourage growth in Jordan’s design sector. This year’s pilot featured workshops and lectures to stimulate collaboration and learning, many with a theme of environmental stewardship.
“The Hangar” in Ras el Ain is curated and designed by Sahel Al Hiyari, the Jordan Museum “MakerSpace”, and the upper level of Raghadan Tourist Terminal (in lead image) are hosting different installations – many interactive – available to the public for free. A shuttle bus – also free – manned by helpful bilingual (Arabic and English) staff, transports visitors to each venue throughout the day.
Pieces include a gigantic soaring bird made of electric light tubes by Iraqi artist Adel Abidin (above) and an intricately woven screen made of fine copper wire by Jordanian architect Hiba Shahzada (below).
Architects Yazeed Obeid and Jeries Al Ali contributed a skeletal tower that references the welded metal minarets towering over rural Jordan. The sculpture morphs with movement; walk around it and the shape of the internal void creates new illusions of mass.
There are spectacular furnishings made from marble and granite, some carved with lasers to mimic Palestinian embroidery. Arabesque motifs inspire the “Unfolding Unity Stool Marble Edition” by Aljoud Lootah Design Studio (below).
Jordanian architect Ammar Khammash melds music with geology in his astonishing instrument constructed from shards of flint. Without any intervention in shape or the size of the stones, he tested each to identify its inherent sound, using tuning apps and frequency identification computer programs. He discovered flints that hit all the notes of the chromatic scale found in a typical piano. The installation – which visitors can play – reflects the natural occurrence of notes that are hidden in the desert landscape. See the story of the singing flints in the video below.
Jordan Museum’s MakerSpace, the second venue, is the site of lectures and hands-on tech demonstrations, and a smaller array of interactive exhibits.
The pieces begin to engage more fully with their urban surroundings at the Raghadan Tourist Terminal, where portions of the facility have been wrapped with brilliantly colored fabric and rope, creating marvellous shadows that move with the sun (above and below).
An open-air marketplace features some of Jordan’s most innovative craftspeople, including the Safi Crafts group, Canadian artist Jean Bradbury‘s posse of natural dye mavens from the southern Dead Sea. There is unusual jewelry by architectOla Medanat, set within handmade terrarium that are dazzling as the gems within. The Crafts District is curated and designed by Dina Haddadin.
Find handmade paper cards, notebooks, and home accessories by the Association of Iraq Al Amir Women, a small community south of Amman supported in part by the craft collective. Their colorful paper spice bowls are shown, below.
Twenty-seven artists crocheted the #KeesChic Canopies providing shade along the marketplace corridors (below), diverting 25,000 plastic bags from local landfills.
Many of the vendors at Raghadan Tourist Terminal are actively involved in on-site production, and are happy to explain their inspiration and techniques. This venue also offers food and drink and live entertainment. is also available at this venue.
Amman Design Week is co-directed by Jordanian architects Abeer Seikaly and Rana Beiruti. Green Prophet previously reported on Seikaly’s award-winning design for refugee shelters (story here). The event runs from September 1 through 9, with exhibitions open from 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM. Download the program of events (link here).