Presenting work by local and regional designers in response to the theme of movement, Ahmad Humeid, a curator of the Hangar Exhibition at 2017 Amman Design Week, tells designMENA that the local design community needs to move away from addressing the issues to finding the actual solutions.
“We are now sitting in this peaceful environment where people are celebrating everything from design and food to culture and innovation. However, anyone with political or social consciousness can see that we are living in the worst time in the last 500 years and Jordan is in the middle of it. It really touches us, affecting our daily lives from infrastructure to education.
“So, how do you curate an exhibition for any design week in 2017? I think we have a quite balancing act between pushing design forward and exploring new forms, materials, techniques, and technologies, but also staying true to a more socially conscious interpretation of our slogan, which is ‘Design Moves Life Moves Design’,” says Humeid.
Humeid says the team behind ADW made sure that selected projects created that balance.
“We have projects for urban transportation, such as the initiative to launch a virtual map to suggest bicycle paths in the city. The cost of transportation in Amman is really getting out of hand for most people; we say it is time for electric bikes and new forms of urban mobility.”
With more than 600 schools needed to be built in the country over the next 10 years, the Hangar exhibition also sheds light on education design.
“We have a zone about education, which focuses on innovative designs for the classroom, including more flexible chairs for the classrooms, but also on the design of the public spaces in the schools, which calls for greater students’ participation.”
This year, a number of projects address different environmental issues. However, Humeid tells designMENA the design community needs to do more.
“There is a layer of beauty with all of these projects, and they also convey strong messages,” he says. “As a curator, I would like to push this even further. We need to move from messages to solutions.
“It is not enough for a designer to say: ‘I want to design a piece that expresses or draws attention to this problem. As a design community in general, we are still stuck in making pieces that communicate strongly certain messages. But, what is an actual effort that we put into creating solutions?,” asks Humeid.
With a rapid population growth and the expansion of the city, in Jordan’s capital green-spaces and public parks are becoming a luxury. Sarah Abdul Majid and Sandra Hiari addressed this issue by introducing Playscapes, a cost-effective and mobile play area.
“In a city like this, we really have to focus on urban solutions and moving from expressing the problem to actually solving it,” recaps Humeid.
Initiatives, such as Amman Design Week, according to him, not only impact the design but also have a positive effect on a wider community.
“This event is unprecedented in its scale. It is a cultural, social, artistic and economic event; a large-scale project that throws a lot of attention and has a huge impact on the local design and craft market, but also technology, food and innovation areas.”
Humeid hopes that ADW will further democratise the design scene and that the local industry will start paying more attention and utilise better its own creative capabilities.
“The Jordanian economy has lost some of its sophistication over the last few decades due to the cheap imported goods. Local industry needs to pay more attention to local design industry while designers themselves need to make a jump from making these one-off pieces to mass manufacturing,” he says.
The third impact, according to the curator of the Hangar exhibition, is to promote design as an export industry.
“We are the small market and we cannot expect to have a large-scale industry like Saudi Arabia. We are a small economy, which is currently under a lot of pressure, but design as an export service can be a huge opportunity for Jordan,” he says.