The Future is ‘Makeable’ – Exploring Possibilities at Amman Design Week 2019

The beauty of keeping a theme as simply worded as “Possibilities” is that its interpretations end up being incredibly diverse as everyone associates the word ‘possibilities’ with something new. Some designers consider material possibilities, others look at possibilities for sustainability and the future, while some even tend to look at fixing problems of the past. Everyone has a different story to tell, and all these stories combine in the melting pot that is the Amman Design Week 2019.

At Amman Design Week this year, we look at how Possibilities can shape our ‘makeable’ future. The Amman Design Week has evolved from being a simple event to a movement to help design uplift life, and make life and culture enrich design in the kingdom of Jordan. The movement now spans more than just the design week, which gets held once every two years. During other times of the year, the design week aims at supporting and rehabilitating local creative organizations, reviving crafts, providing educational workshops and mentorship programs, and acting as the glue that binds all things creative and social in the country. Working towards building a future that’s design aware, ADW’s design week showcases two full years worth of growth and creativity. “We decided we didn’t want to do this [annual] factory-like production of events. It’s more about doing the right works and yielding the right results in terms of designer output”, said ADW Director Rana Beiruti.

We look at the Hangar Exhibition and the Student Showcase, curated by Noura Al Sayeh-Holtrop, a stunning combination of both professional and student work that encapsulate the theme of “Possibilities”. Some designs look inward at personal growth as a possibility, while others look at altering the environment and nature to create possibilities for the years to come. Some even look at how to preserve the past as we rapidly move into an uncertain future. Here are some of our favorite pieces.

Bassam Huneidi’s project looks at reusing hookah pipes and mouthpieces. These products are crafted from plastic, and are often disposed of the same way one would a straw or plastic cutlery. Huneidi uses the mouthpieces, turning them into attractive lamps, while the pipes become a strong and stable material for woven furniture.

Kutleh’s cantilever coffee table uses a special ply-stone material, built by joining pieces of stone discarded during the slab-cutting process. These pieces are given a new lease of life as a completely different material, as they stack together to form uniquely striated blocks of stone!

Designed by Ishraq Zraikat, this weaving loom becomes a poetic home for the weaver. Reflecting on the idea of creating both living arrangements and job opportunities, this loom looks at fabric as a way to not only create, but to live under.

Jordan has a flourishing furniture craft, but doesn’t have any indigenous wood to create furniture. Sahar Madanat, founder of Studio Twelve Degrees, realized that wood as a material isn’t local to the country, but the talent is. Surprised at how the country imported tonnes of wood from neighboring countries, with no suitable local alternative, Madanat developed a new composite created from waste material including olive-wood pulp, which is found in abundance in Jordan. The new material is completely biodegradable, but possesses the consistency and hardness of MDF wood, along with a faint olive aroma.

One of my favorite pieces from the design week comes from the student exhibition, where Sarah Sunna turned 2D doodles into 3D wrought iron furniture. This one-of-a-kind chair and table set showcase possibilities that span disciplines, allowing illustrators and interior designers to collaborate over uniquely appealing furniture art!

Foundland Studio’s project acts as a stark reminder of the past. After one of the studio’s founders’ parents had to flee Syria when the war broke out, they decided to preserve the memories of their past life, both the good moments and the bad. The project comprises a book that captures thoughts and recollections, alongside a 3D printed replica of their home which they had to abandon.

Saba Innab’s installation presents an abstraction of Jordanian architecture. It pulls architectural details from the Hashemite Plaza in Amman, turning familiar visual cues into a repetitive symmetric collage.

It looks like marble, but it is, in fact, plastic! Dema Mosleh found a way to recycle different scraps of plastic by melting them and combining them together to create a beautiful, dense, marbled material that looks exactly like marble stone. Each piece is made using waste plastic that would otherwise be thrown in a landfill or dumped into the ocean. Here, the plastic is transformed into a material that lasts long, while looking absolutely stunningly like stone!

MRM’s installation is an abstraction between architecture and jewelry. Created using parametric design, the two inspiration sources are combined to create new forms that fuse the two styles and cultures. MRM’s previous work includes Oscar-winning costume design for Marvel’s Black Panther!

Terrazzo meets Pinterest with MORPH-X Design Studio’s exploration with the material. Terrazzo is a wonderful way of using cement and recycling stone chips not just for waste reduction but also for strength. MORPH-X Design Studio however puts an aesthetic spin on the material by dyeing the cement to create patterns and styles that bring a new appeal to the forgotten material, turning it into a material that high-end designers and architects would love to play with!

The Amman Design Week has been a catalyst for change in not just Jordan but the Middle East, for helping people see value in integrating design into societies and lives. ADW has helped to legalize and democratize 3D printing tools in the country, where 3D printers were banned up until 2017… and has also played its part to help rehabilitate Syrian and Palestinian communities plagued by wars. By nurturing a conversation around the possibilities of harmonious coexistence, of sustenance, and creative problem solving, Amman Design Week is doing much more than just showcasing design-work over a period of 7 days. It is, like all good design, helping create large-scale positive impact.

YD gets the Amman Design Week 2017 Experience!


How do you get an entire city, no, an entire country to talk about design? To learn how it evolved from art, culture, and an innate need to solve problems? You host a week-long event open to all, housing some of the greatest design talent from 11 countries, talking about design as not just a profession, but also as a way of life.

With the theme “Design Moves Life Moves Design”, Amman witnessed its second Design Week in two years, seeing a footfall of more than 35,000 people as designers from countries like Bahrain, Morocco, Palestine, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Netherlands, Norway, Italy and USA gathered to display their works to show how life can impact a designer, and how their designs in turn can impact life!

This year’s Amman Design Week was in every sense bigger, but more nuclear. Rather than having events at three different locations across the city, the festival saw everything happen in the town’s creative hub, AKA the Hangar and the Ras Al Ein Gallery. With just a 40ft road separating the two venues, patrons could visit all the exhibits in a single day, spending much more time at the event. With incredible design works within the Hangar, along with a Student Exhibition, to a Crafts District filled with indigenous crafts and handicrafts on display and for sale, as well as a Cultural Plaza for talks on design, the Amman Design Week left no stone unturned.

We first look at the Hangar. An iconic building in its own right, the Hangar used to be Amman’s Power and Electricity Hub. After the city started expanding, the Hangar was decommissioned and shut down. It now houses a different kind of spark (if you know what I mean!), as designers gather to showcase their creative abilities and techniques while also conveying a variety of messages. With more exhibits than the last time, the Hangar’s curator, Ahmad Humeid had to be extremely selective, adhering to the theme but also showcasing diversity. With massive installations on the outside to attract one’s attention, and a wide selection of design work on the inside, the Hangar provided what can only be described as an accurate image of how talented the designers in the middle east are, and how this talent can be harnessed to truly uplift lives in and around the area.



Amal Ayoub’s installation shows how the Dead Sea is losing its salt over time with commercial abuse. The installation fills up with water and the salt crystals gradually dissolve.


MEAN (Middle East Architecture Network) showed a heart-rending picture of the earth drying up and cracking with their stone and distressed metal installation.


A miniature of Ammar Khammash’s Masonry Bridge shows how the bridge is to be built with its scaffolding that will gradually disappear, leaving just one single bridge in its place.


Rawan Kakish and Hamad Al Sultan’s “A Path of Synergy” literally lights up the outside space of the Hangar with these laser cut butterfly wings that light up and flutter as you stand underneath!


Uraiqat Architect’s X3 project features independently moving mirrors that break and then rejoin your reflection, in an attempt to make you introspect. Easily a crowd favorite!





Bricklab’s Dividied by Congregation paints three soundscapes of a city. One consumed by the chaos of the city, one by the cacophony of religion, and lastly, the serenity of nature.


With EYEN’s vending machine, you can literally buy a font file! Just pay the machine and you get an authentic piece of Arabic calligraphy, and in turn, you support a slowly dying craft.


Sahar Madanat Design Studio’s Press Fit gathered a lot of attention for being one of the few exhibits that showcases design as a problem solving tool.


Ever wanted your own miniature fermentation setup? The Brinery is designed to simplify the fermentation and marination process. Plus, the food created in it helps diversify the healthy bacteria in your intestines!


Andrei Visuals’ crazy motion installation uses a Microsoft Kinect and an algorithm to capture human movement and turn it into a colorful painting. People spent hours dancing in front of this screen!


What you’re looking at is a completely new material. Kutleh (Arabic for block) is made by joining together spare/waste pieces of stone to create this layered material that can be used for sculpting and machining. Doesn’t it look incredible?


Yasmeen Sabri’s traditional swing was a hit among the public. Using just wood and rope, and with a cleverly designed IKEA-esque assembly manual, anyone can make one of their own.


Catching all eyes as you enter the Hangar is the Left of Passage, Right of Passage, an installation by Anmahian Winton Architects that you can walk through. The installation mimics the passages of Wadi Rum’s sandstone walkways.



‬Aperçu’s Mirage uses stone, crystals, and resin to create some wonderful showpieces that looked great from afar and even better up close.



Ammar Kalo showcased his unique and mystifying furniture, made from unconventional techniques.


Hanna Salameh returns to ADW with the Flo Desk, a wonderfully layered desk that looks like it’s been stacked together.


Crystallization is usually accidental in ceramic baking. What if you turn an accident into art? My opinion is it looks much better!


Hashem Joucka’s experiments with ferrofluid and oil paints yielded some incredibly interesting results!

Right across the road from the Hangar was Amman Design Week’s Cultural zone. A part that showcased handicrafts in a commercial light, while even having a dedicated space for reviving dying crafts from within and outside Jordan. What you see below is a look at the Cultural Plaza, a place to conduct design seminars, held below a rather beautiful bamboo strip ceiling, and the Crafts Hub a place that revived crafts like Bedouin felt-making, traditional Syrian Arabesque Mosaic making, Jordanian Stone Mosaic making, and swordsmithing. If the Hangar showcased the future of design, the Crafts District helped give it context in many ways.







We end our tour of the Amman Design Week on a happy note. With news that only months back, the Jordanian Government withdrew its ban on 3D Printers, the country rushes to embrace the technology. Designers Sahar Madanat and Sara Bdeir talk about how industrial processes integral to design like metal fabrication, electronic integration, and plastic molding haven’t really caught on in the Middle East (forcing most designers to take up more traditional practices like furniture or textile design or to practice abroad), but the future looks bright as designers are working hard to bring talent as well as industries to the country, with the legalization of 3D printing just being the very beginning of what I can imagine is a very bright future for Design and Life in Amman and Jordan. So how do you get an entire country to talk about design? You do it the way Amman Design Week did it!




Image Credits © Amman Design Week 2017 & Yanko Design.

YD goes to Amman Design Week 2016!


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.


Got Melons? Karpouz Collaborative decorates the Hangar outdoors with precisely stacked watermelons!


Al-Warqaa, the ambitious bird that is chained to the ground.


Secret Sounds of the Desert, a collection of precisely tuned flints that become a mystic music instrument.





Visitors journey through the Smellscapes project, a collection of aromas captured in tiny vessels.



Curator Sahel Al Hiyari and Director Abeer Seikaly walk us through the Hangar Exhibition.


An innovative sidewalk inspired by Islamic Textiles guides patrons and visitors to the ADW venues.

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. Mixed Dimensions, 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.



Meet Flooff! A shape’shifting installation by Hanna Salameh Design.






Laser cut compressed wood-ash panels make intricate shapes inspired by biogenetic structures.


3D printed Sand Art showing the scope for architecture of the future




The 3D Printing showcase by Mixed Dimensions. Jordan recently put a ban on domestic 3D printing, which Mixed Dimensions is advocating against.



The Raghadan Tourist Terminal was where design met craft met commerce. A lot like an urban design bazaar, the Raghadan housed ADW’s Crafts District, a boulevard 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. Amongst that chaotic beauty was a stage for musicians who performed post sunset.


The Orange Boulevard at the Raghadan Tourist Terminal




Recycled Plastic Bags get woven into a magical roof by Kees Chic


Apercu’s Resin + Wood combo is to die for!



Brilliant upcycling of legs from different chairs.






Kees Chic’s intricate plastic woven magic.




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!