AMMAN – Marking its third year, Amman Design Week (ADW) shines again in 2019 under the title of Possibilities. This time, the theme highlights the concept of reusability, sustainability and material manipulation. Participants took this global challenge to a whole new level, with younger designers also treading their first step into a realm of opportunities and a great potential for change. 

Zina Qabbani at the Student Exhibition of Ras El Ain 

As I took a closer look at the main exhibitions down at Ras El Ain Gallery, my eyes were immediately drawn to The Student Exhibition. Possibilities for the participating students meant a time of revolutionary transformations, a generation that needs to constantly redefine the norm, break it and rebuild it to fit modern life. Several students from different high schools and universities took part in the different student exhibitions throughout the ADW locations around the city. These exhibitions hit the mark at showcasing a variety of products challenging viewers to comprehend ideas inside the frame of crafting and creation.  

Hand of Humanity by Mamoun Khasawneh, mentored by Twelve Degrees – Photo courtesy of lifeinanalogue

With young talents emerging under the limelight of ADW and different mentors, accessibility came to the mind of bright school student Mamoun Khasawneh, designer of the Hand Of Humanity. The piece is essentially a 3D-printed prosthetic arm made as an alternative to heavyweight, more automated limbs. As a friendlier option, Khasawneh even created a PDF version of the model so that users can freely access the file, calibrate the measurements to the diameters of their hands, and wait until it prints out into this refined, cost-effective solution. The vision he described to me focused on detaching the user from a feeling of alienation or difference, and reinforcing inclusivity. 

Continuity by Sarah Sunna mentored by Nour Nsheiwat  – Photo courtesy of lifeinanalogue

University student Sarah Sunna‘s Continuity was inspired by her passion for one-line art which she brought to life through a steel chair and table set. The process of finalizing this work took just one month of perseverance and Sara‘s vocation to set up the right dimensions in order for the chair’s shadows of the visible portraits to scatter onto any lit surface it is placed on. 

In Between by Nagham Khader, mentored by Dina Fawakhiri – Photo courtesy of lifeinanalogue

Mentored by illustrator Dina Fawakhiri, German Jordanian University student Nagham Khader presented a nostalgic audiovisual installation of the sounds of urban Amman. With an interest in photography, Nagham included soundscapes of downtown Amman and voices of everyday pedestrians engaging in conversation among each other. It is an imagination of the past, present and future of Amman captured in its audio essence. Her idea was inspired by a course she had taken at university, which she later turned into an augmented reality project during her year in Germany.

We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place and there are voices in us that we can find again only be going back there… those voices revive us. -Nagham on the story behind In Between
Rami Sukkar mentored by Nour Nsheiwat  at the Student Exhibition – Photo courtesy of lifeinanalogue

Switching lanes to the gaming highway, Rami Sukkar, also a Design student at the German Jordanian University, excelled at the theme of multi-functionality with his 5-in-1 gaming chair model. The piece was made as a compartmentalization of the standard gaming position, and aims to provide ease of access and organization. 

Dhad, Hanin Bayomi and Mohammad Arafeh mentored by Hussein Alazaat – Photo courtesy of lifeinanalogue

Representing the University of Jordan and the Ministry of Culture, participating designers Hanin Bayomi and Mohammad Arafeh constructed Dhad. The motive behind Dhad is to show the power and beauty of Arabic in a calligraphic sense through a poem. The stanzas can be read backwards too, which then makes an opposite meaning to the original order of the poem’s reading flow. 

Endless Horizons exhibition at the ASG & BSA, image courtesy of Dina Haddadin.

Changing routes to Jabal Amman, The Ahliyyah & Mutran School led another stunning student exhibition on campus entitled Endless Horizons. Curated by Dina Haddadin and Kour Kour, this segment of ADW’s spaces was truly one of a kind, and had an otherworldly feel to it. The exhibition showcased different products by students, graduates, teachers and parents of the two schools. The exhibition not only put on display the final products of work, but also highlighted the processes leading up to the final production.

Abeer Anabtawi, Photo courtesy of lifeinanalogue

These quirky product designs were made by Abeer Anabtawi, a participant at the exhibition whose purpose was to maintain nonchalant simplicity in her artwork. Her collection reflects the simple manner of individualisation and how to express oneself without too much effort. As an emerging illustrator and graphic designer, Abeer’s style is boundless and opposes the typical intricate guidelines of digital art. 

Lulu in Jabal Amman, Dua’a Assaf – Photo courtesy of lifeinanalogue

Dua’a Assaf envisioned popular artistic personas coming to life and adapting to the modern world surrounding them. In this compilation, The Girl With a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer is reborn as Lulu, walking around the streets of Jabal Amman and experiencing life outside the canvas. In her eyes, Dua’a thinks art should be mobile and always rotating around us, rather than just kept isolated. This is the perfect framework of her concept. 

Kaleidoscope by Onur Lambaz, Photo courtesy of lifeinanalogue

Onur Lambaz strikes again with this 3 meter-long kaleidoscopic suspension made out of vibrantly colored clothes hangers. The wire hangers are the main components of her Hangit series; a project of upcycled materials she uses to make furniture such as coffee tables and room decor. Onur’s work is a cycle of constant innovation arriving in various forms, for everyone to have a piece of her upbeat soul at home, whether it were with a bookshelf or a vase. 

The Sewing Machine, Mueen Haddad – Photo courtesy of lifeinanalogue

Head of the Bishop’s School, Mr. Mueen Haddad was earlier a student of Chemistry and ICT in Education. This however, never stopped him from delving into the world of crafts and the arts. With this piece, Haddad shows us a vintage sewing machine which tells a story of how household machines looked a long time ago, and the functions it carried that helped our families in those years. It is a tangible memory of an essential instrument at every Arab home decades ago. 

Dont Throw It Away, Give it Away and Make Their Day, John Hatleh – Photo courtesy of lifeinanalogue 

Lastly, the element of anti-waste awareness was shown by John Hatleh; a student who came up with a short film about food overconsumption. The goal behind this is to inform the public about the need to consider people in need when throwing food out with the phrase “You waste, they taste”. Powerful as it is, John’s film is the message of the current era, where conserving both the environment and sustainable livelihood is at the globe’s forefront. Starring in the film is a male clay figure representing the daily act of disposing of leftovers. The man searches for a piece of food to keep him nourished, just as a lot of observations deduce from the lives of the poor. This was one of the works that pierced through my heart, because it comprises a real-life challenge that a lot of individuals try to alleviate under harsh conditions. It is a note of compassion for all of us to remember the next time loads of dishes see their fate into the bin, rather than given to another human being. 

In this edition, Amman Design Week hosted diversity in the participating groups of designers. Different backgrounds were involved all recentering around the core point of giving back to the community without compromising the very Earth that we stand on. Possibilities initiated a necessary dialogue about the value of what we take for granted, and how we have an obligation we should take more seriously, and that is to rethink what we neglect and omit from our lives.

Read more from Zina Qabbani.
Image courtesy indicated in captions.