Amman Design Week revolves around ‘movement’

October 15, 2017
Evoking senses. Artworks at the Hangar part of the Amman Design Week. (Provided by Roufan Nahhas)

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.