Amman Design Week 2017: Can design move us?

Under the slogan “Design Moves Life Moves Design”, the second edition of Amman Design Week (ADW) is currently taking place in Jordan’s capital until 14 October, presenting a critical cross-section of design in the region.

Abeer Seikaly and Rana Beiruti, directors of ADW, speak to designMENA about this year’s programme, highlighting the importance of creating a platform that will further empower local designers.

“It has been a continuation of what we started last year,” says Seikaly. “There was an overwhelming response from people from all walks of life, both local and international guests. What I constantly heard from many people that have visited other design weeks is that ADW feels new and fresh, and local at the same time.”

Rana Beiruti (left) and Abeer Seikaly (right).

Driving “a collective action to make a difference,” Beiruti adds that movement as a theme can be read in many ways and that designers responded to it differently.

“Many designers responded to environmental issues, such as water scarcity and other issues that are important to all of us living in Jordan,” explains Beiruti. “But, it is also critical the way they used these limited resources that we have to make beautiful and functional designs that are relevant to contemporary culture in Jordan.”

With more than 100 designers and design firms involved in this year’s programme, Seikaly explains that for the event to be successful, it was crucial to work closely with designers throughout the year.

“As organisers, our job was ‘to stitch and tailor’ every aspect of this experience,” she says. “It was not about receiving applications and accepting them; it was about working with the designers and connecting them with the industry, finding funds for their projects and most importantly helping them turn their ideas and dreams into something tangible and sensual.”

The Craft of Making programme featured Arabesque – Jordan Jewel For Art and Mosaic by Hilal Al Ashhab and Mahmoud Ghafeer. Photo: Marina Petrovic.

Both Beirut and Seikaly are confident that the city’s design scene has the capacity to further grow and progress into to the self-sustainable and commercially viable creative hub.

“I don’t think that commercially viable should be synonymous with mass-produced,” says Beiruti. “One of the problems that many local designers face is the small market of Amman. As a platform, Amman Design Week aims to help them meet and collaborate with other designers in the region and eventually grow their marketplace. We are hearing a lot of success stories about our designers who are collaborating with designers from Lebanon or working with clients in Dubai.”

The Stream, designed by Dina Haddadin, is the frame for Amman Design Week 2017’s Craft District.

As Beiruti explains, Jordanian designers need a further exposure of their work.

“Designers need a reason to produce. What propels most of them to produce something better is also the fact that the local design industry got together,” adds Seikaly. “We live in a time that is quite complex, and designers cannot work in silos.”

As a city-wide engagement, ADW is featuring creative spaces around the city, hosting different events, workshops, and exhibitions.

“This is something we want for our city and our designers,” says Beiruti. “It is a collective effort, and we couldn’t do it alone.”

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