Outlining the definition of ‘design’ is incredibly difficult when you’re explaining it to someone with little to no design awareness. Your definition spills into art, into culture, because it has its roots in art and culture. Maybe there’s no such thing as a lack of design awareness… just the lack of a concrete definition.
When you think design, you think of Japan’s oriental/minimal approach, you think of Germany and the Bauhaus movement, you think of Italy’s domination in the transport Industry, you also think of Sweden and how Scandinavian design came to be and came to take over the world. The Middle East has its stronghold on design too, with Turkey, Iran, Israel, all being ingredients within this massive culture cauldron. Amman Design Week is testament to the fact that Jordan has a fresh, distinct flavor to add to this cauldron.
The first of its kind, in a country that knows art, knows tradition, but is still discovering design, the Amman Design Week (held from 1st to 9th September) aimed at initiating the conversation around design, its role in today’s society, its hidden presence over the centuries, and how it can create a positive impact in a way no other profession can.
The Amman Design Week was spread across Amman’s culture corridor, with events and exhibitions being held at four of the city’s key locations for culture exchange. The Hangar, a vast expanse of architecture converted into an exhibition space, hosted work from not just within Jordan but around Jordan too. The idea was to give a platform to design thinking, and to showcase some stellar work. The Hangar was open to the public all week, with all the work meticulously displayed in their grandeur. Artists and Designers bonded with each other as well as visitors, exchanging words and ideas.
The Hangar hosted works spanning not just across countries, but across disciplines too. It was important to not follow a rigorous theme, said ADW curator Sahel Al Hiyari, but rather display diversity built around the unity for the passion to design.
If the Hangar was a grand gallery showcasing even grander designs, the Makerspace was the mad designer’s laboratory. Two spaces devoted to showing and showcasing the act of creation, the Makerspace had stuff that even we got to see for the first time in our lives! As a creative, the Makerspace was the perfect place to feel at home, amongst experimental designs, eccentric designers, and 3D printers just whirring up a storm!
The Makerspace wasn’t just about displaying. It was where masterclasses on design were held too. Third Reality, a Jordan based 3D printing start-up showcased the infinite possibilities presented by 3D printing, which the Jordanian Kingdom has put a ban on in the recent past.
The Raghadan Tourist Terminal was where design met craft met commerce. A lot like an urban design bazaar, the Terminal housed ADW’s Crafts District, an exhibition designed and curated by architect and artist Dina Haddadin, with designers on either side showcasing and selling their craft, ranging from textile, to product, to lighting, to even food design! Each stall had a different take on design, and a different story to tell. Among that chaotic beauty was a stage for musicians who performed post sunset.
The Amman Design Week arose as a beacon for good design in the Middle East. Amidst the rather serious refugee crisis, the Design Week aimed at not just creating social impact and awareness, but also breaking barriers, with designers from neighboring countries collaborating to collectively showcase the power of design thinking. As I type this right now, ADW 2017 is in a nascent stage, developing as a concept. A concept that will further cement Jordan’s reputation as a design powerhouse… and we at Yanko can’t help but feel incredibly excited!
All images courtesy of Hussam Da’na/Amman Design Week and Yanko Design.