The economic crisis has not helped the interior design industry in Jordan but designers are looking forward to a positive future with its green movement.
The Hashemite kingdom of Jordan has developed dramatically, according to interior designers, but is seeing a slowdown in commercial projects, due to the aftershocks of the economic recession.
Amman’s population is forecasted to grow to 6 million by 2025 from its current 2.3 million, indicating a growth in infrastructure. The hospitality industry is also developing; apart from the recently announced Wadi Rum Resort, two five-star hotels, The Hilton Tala Bay Aqaba and the W Amman are opening in 2011. The Westin Aqaba Harbour Resort & Spa, and The Luxury Collection Al Manara Hotel, Al Aqaba are scheduled to open in 2012. An announcement was also made for a 184-acre Star Trek-themed entertainment resort, The Red Sea Astrarium, to be built in Aqaba, by Rubicon Holding Group. The resort, estimated to cost more than $1 billion, is scheduled to be completed in 2014.
Tareq Abdein, of Amman-based Tareq Abdein Design and Furniture Consulting, said in the last few years, there has been a high demand for design services, but due to the financial and political crises in the region, it has died down. “There has been a dramatic drop in commercial projects, but residential ones are popular with designers right now.”
Suzanne Abujaber, founding member of the Jordan Interior Design Association, said the worldwide economic situation has affected the country, with many major international and government projects postponed for later this year. But the private, small and medium-sized project market is positive.
However, Abujaber said trends in the Jordanian market are moving forward. “Contemporary and minimalist style is very much in demand,” she added.
Abdein said designers are considering eco-friendly design and green materials, but admitted there isn’t a lot of education on the concept in the region. “Not a lot of designers are open to green design yet, mostly because of the lack of education. Yes, there are green building societies and organisations that promote green design that offer lectures and seminars, but it will take some time for this to become standard,” he said.
“If Jordan has regulations on green design, which will happen, it will be enforced. The problem is clients do not look at long-term benefits, only immediate costs. Green design costs more but in the long run it’s more effective.”
According to Abujaber, sustainable and green design is happening in the country because it has the Jordan Green Building Council, which is accredited by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). She said the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is the first and the only building in Amman to be awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver status. USGBC said it has received 13 applications for LEED certification for projects in Jordan.
“A law for green buildings is coming soon, which will incorporate some of the existing green codes,” said Abujaber.
However, she added the materials available in the Jordanian market are not varied. “I think that the choice of materials is less than what it used to be five years ago. This reflects the mood of the importers and merchants.”
Abdein said the challenge is the lack of material variety. A lot of materials that he would specify do not exist in Jordan or are available on an order-only basis.
“If the economic situation in the world picks up, then we will too. We are hoping things look up soon,” said Abujaber.