Purposely destroyed artwork keeps dozens of refugees warm

Amman Design Week

A major Jordanian artwork showcased at the 2016 Amman Design Week was recently repurposed to provide basic human shelter for people in need. This afterlife was intentionally designed into the piece, an artistic application of “cradle-to-cradle” practices. The project raises awareness about conscious design and the positive impact of handcrafts within local communities.

“Entrelac” was a major installation in last September’s weeklong exhibition of Jordanian and regional art and design. Collaboratively created by local fashion designer Raya Kassisieh and NADAAA, a Boston-based design firm led by MIT professor Nader Tehrani, the artwork consisted of 28 gigantic strands of woolen rope, suspended from the cavernous ceiling of The Hangar exhibition space, an architectural enclosure that spiraled downward and across the concrete floor. Computer modeling determined its structural design, but the composition was handmade by 20 local craftswomen. The artwork reflected the dynamic between traditional handcraft and digital design.

handcrafts in Jordan

After the exhibition closed, the artist worked with the same women who created the piece to repurpose its 770 pounds of wool fiber into blankets. The material was sufficient to create 38 full-size knitted blankets, which were then distributed to Syrian refugees and Jordanians in need.

refugee bankets

It was a sustainable finale to Amman’s first Design Week, which shared its focus across art, social issues, and environmental responsibility. Most of the materials used in the exhibition’s installations and advertising have been reused and recycled to benefit local communities.

The old showbiz saw “the show must go on” supposedly emerged from 19th Century circuses. It referred to the determined antics of the ringmaster and his musicians aimed at pumping up the spirits of performers and audiences when things went terribly awry. The phrase takes a sustainable turn in this story, but the thrust remains on salvaging.

Image of craftswoman and recycled wool blankets by Hareth Tabbalat

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