Amman Design Week revolves around ‘movement’
Amman - The second Amman Design Week (ADW), a gathering of Jordanian and regional talent in design, art and culture, carried a message of optimism towards creation and innovation that can improve the functionality and beauty of Amman.
The 2017 ADW was centred at the Hangar and Ras El Ain Gallery in downtown Amman, with satellite events in locations across the city.
Under the theme “Design Moves Life Moves Design,” ADW “focused on creating a forum for learning, exchange and collaboration,” said ADW Co-Director Rana Beiruti.
“With more than 50 participating spaces across the city, the nine-day celebration offered a comprehensive programme of large-scale curated exhibitions, tours, workshops, talks and cultural activities.”
Beiruti said that considering the theme of “movement,” ADW transcended the conventional format of a static exhibition by programming mobile experiences around the city.
“For a deeper and more active engagement with everyday applications of design in Jordan, this new curated programme of experiences is organised by professionals from various fields like Arabic calligraphy, urban food exploration, design and crafts, community-based tourism and photography documentation,” she said.
This year’s edition also featured a student exhibition for the first time.
“We are having an exhibition that brought together selected students from high schools and universities across Jordan to work with industry specialists and experts in a mentorship programme that lasted six months,” Beiruti said.
With a special focus on governorates, the 2017 “Mobile MakerSpace,” started in September, travelled to several governorates, including Irbid, Zarga, Mafraq and Karak, providing learning opportunities to students through interactive sessions on craft-making, recycling, sustainable materials, digital fabrication and robotics.
“Last year, we explored the launch of the conversation on design in the city, highlighting the importance of design among us and within us and its importance in improving our communities” Beiruti said. “This year, we tackled the theme of movement, how design has the capacity to move life and vice versa.”
Works by more than 100 local, regional and international designers were displayed, each exploring the theme of movement and associated topics of mass migrations, interactive technology and hyper-connectivity, as well as issues of accessibility and strained mobility.
Works by designers from Lebanon, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, the United States and Germany were exhibited at the Hangar, Amman’s former power plant converted into a public cultural space, which has become a landmark of the city’s modernisation and industrialisation.
The Hangar was also the site for the popular Crafts District, an open-air space offering a one-of-a-kind experience of crafts ranging from painting, handmade products to food and cultural activities, noted curator Shermine Sawalha.
“The Crafts District is coupled with Amman Design Week’s Community Outreach programme, which features collaboration with social enterprise Disarming Design from [the Palestinian territories],” she said. “The programme seeks to empower women in crafts communities across Jordan by engaging them in learning and exchange programmes that lead to innovative and sustainable projects.
“‘The Craft of Making” series, a learning experience that gives audiences the chance to learn about various crafts, including natural dyeing, mosaics, Arabesque and Mother of Pearl, Nabatean ceramics, dagger making, basket and carpet weaving and Arabic calligraphy and signage was also on the programme throughout the event.
“People just love seeing the dying crafts brought back to life and it is very popular among both locals and foreigners. People enjoy watching glass blowing, basket and carpet weaving, dagger making, Arabesque and mosaic,” said Slayet Salaita, an interior designer.
“We need such events as they evoke the senses and bring out the artist in all of us.”
Workshops on topics ranging from the importance of sustainability and entrepreneurial projects to the intersection of technology and crafts were also on the agenda.
The event, which gathers designers from across the Middle East region who are pushing boundaries within their disciplines, attracted more than 35,000 visitors in its first year, a figure that organisers hoped to top in the second edition.
Amman Design Week was held October 6-14.