The words ‘design’ and ‘Jordan’ rarely are thought of as belonging together. The practice of design in Jordan is still in its infancy. People who practice design are found in the growing number of advertising agencies (or graphic design firms, of which only a few exist anyway), in architectural companies (where the designers are called, obviously, architects) and others areas of design such as interior design or craft design.
Architectural design is one of the most established fields in the country and is considered one of the few areas where we can claim a pioneering edge (consider the often-cited names like Jaafar Toukan, Rasem Badran, Bilal Hammad, and more recently Ammar Khammash, Maisam, Khaled Nahhas, Sahel Hiyari, Faris and Faris and Tahhan Bushnaq and a number of other people/firms who’s architectural work exhibits aspects of experimentation, innovation and, increasingly, the ability to handle more complex projects. (Read this article by Bilal Hammad abot Jordanina architecture in the 1990s which mentions some prominent names in the architectural scene such as Ayman Zuaiter, Farouk Yaghmour, GDAR and others).
When talking about architecture shouldn’t forget about interior designers who have been gaining prominence as Jordan witnesses a retail revolution.
We are also seeing the emergence of jewelry design (and other craft-oriented design) as a promising field: consider the work of Nadia Dajani, Lama Hourani and Lana Barakat’s Lazuli.
Bubbling under the surface are also some attempts to kick-start some industrial design ventures/initiatives such as Design Jordan and MKD, a company specializing in the mechanical design aspects of packaging.
Still we can hardly speak of a Jordanian ‘design scene’.
But something seems to be moving. Not only in Jordan but also in the region.
I was pleasantly surprised by an announcement that I received about Jordan’s fist design conference!
Not only that, but I also discovered that there is something called the Jordanian Design Center, recently established in the Yarmouk University in Irbid. The JDC, headed by Dr. Ziyad Haddad, is affiliated with the Department of Design and Applied Arts of the Faculty of Fine Arts.
The Jordanian Design Center JDC is a research organization. It is the only professional organization that addresses the multifaceted and continually changing nature of design in Jordan and the region. It is, also, the primary source of information, research and education about design and its role in both our culture and economy. It represents all design education disciplines (industrial design, textile and fashion design, graphic design, interior design, and other related design and art areas), and demonstrates that design theory and innovation are inseparable from design education and practice. JDC is committed to connecting its members: Professors, Students, Designers, Industrialists, Businesses, Analysts, Marketing Researchers and all other concerned parties to each others and to the research, ideas, and technologies that are continually shaping, reshaping, and influencing design education and practice nationally and internationally.Quite an ambitious agenda..
Surprisingly, the conference is about Design Management (Facing the Challenge: Managing Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship), which is a topic that was probably never touched in the region, let alone Jordan:
This conference is the first of its kind in Jordan and the region, where the profession of design practice has just started to take a deep breath. The time has come now, after it is too late, to have a closer look at what has been done to cradle this strategic profession. This conference is an excellent opportunity for bringing together leading scholars and practitioners to explore these issues, provoke lively discussions and provide insight for achieving the significance of design and its role in the enterprise leadership and growth in Jordan.
The conference has a strong academic tilt to it (there are papers that have to be submitted, etc) which is not something I am used to in conferences (where people simply show up with a presentation or a talk, somewhat adhering to a theme). Then again, the JDC is under the umbrella of an academic institution.
No speakers have been announced yet for this conference but it seems that the organizers are seeking to to feature a number of international speakers.
I find all of this highly interesting. The conference and the center’s agenda may seem to be a bit ahead of their time, which is a good thing (the gap between the Arab region and the world in the field of design is so huge that only ‘ahead of their time’ initiatives can be effective!). It’s also refreshing to see a center for design being established OUTSIDE Amman. Maybe this will be conducive to some fresh thinking outside the boundaries of the capital and its business-as-usual scene.
Read these related posts on 360east:
- Impressive names (like Bruce Mau) at the upcoming Tasmeem Doha design conference
- ASPU hosts first SYMPOSIODESIGN
- Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum shows Israeli design
- The end of web design
- Amman: the city of big holes!
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