Interview by Liyan Aljabi
HKZ met with the Curator and Designer behind The Crafts District, Dina Haddadin to talk more about this social space for crafts. The Crafts District brought people together in an environment that inspire and encourage the public and designers to interact and engage through an exchange of knowledge, stories, skills and ideas.
“For Jordan specifically, craftspeople have formed the vernacular of design and continue to inspire contemporary craft practice today.” Haddadin
The Crafts District featured craftspeople from across Jordan, as well as work done in collaboration between disciplined designers and craftspeople which took place in an interesting yet abandoned Raghadan Tourist Terminal, where the space was revived through a simultaneous music and food program.
”Craft is a language of material, provenance and making.” Dina explains that integrating crafts within a more complex social process of empowerment allows for creativity to be expressed in a unique way. This will aid in manifesting crafts into various values that relate to concepts of community, locality and sustainability.
“Craft and design cannot be distinguished as good design springs with active engagement in making.”
Many define Craft as an object from the past; the Craft District however brought back crafts as design thinking and making infused together. “Craft is free design!” says Dina; design freed from the machine, labeling an object of craft involves many hours of labor, years of practice of the skill. An object of a craft has a story or a journey behind it that is usually passed down from generation to the next.
The Craft District occupied Ragahdan Tourist Terminal, an abandoned structure, which stood empty for the last 10 years, designed to be a major touristic transportation hub that is part of a large-scale downtown renovation project that never saw the light.
ADW 2016, Roland Halbe © The Cloud
“Such derelict space reflects many around our city, and through reviving it we shed some light on the importance of conscious design whether its urban planning, architecture or product design. Designing with respect to the problem and to be able to work with the residue, or with the negative spaces, the holes, the spaces in-between.”
The Crafts District occupied 25 shop spaces out of 125 in the complex to celebrate Craft and create a series of temporary showrooms, exhibitions, and interactive installation spaces about local craft and design that reflect on Jordan’s shared histories and stories.
Dina further explained that the response from visitors was overwhelmingly positive, and reignited the conversation on the use of this abandoned terminal and the potential for revitalizing the space. It showed a desire for a more permanent development of the space as a holistic cultural experience that brought together food, music, and creativity. There was a deep appreciation for the efforts of designers to showcase hand made and authentic products that represent our heritage.
When asked about how this event helped is defining and recognizing “crafts” in the contemporary design scene in Jordan, Dina explained the craft movement has recently been focused on globalism and questions about the importance of craft practices in contemporary design, which has led the development of many interesting concepts, ideas and definitions.
ADW 2016, Roland Halbe © The Colonnade
Moreover, Dina along with her design team architect Khalid Ali and designer Norma Kupti, designed four major installations, occupying some of the complex spaces. Some of these installations were functional like the “Canopies” and the “Colonnade”, and others were symbolic pieces reflecting the state of the building itself or the values and the vocabulary of Craft and the Making such as “The Loom” and “The Bridge”.
“The Colonnade”, demarks the entry for the Craft District, connecting the public space of the empty parking lots to the private body of the abandoned structure. The 12-meter-high installation is a temporary threshold erected to create questions and build rumors, in a public space under constant transformation, relocation and interruption. A structure of transience is built using 17 scaffolding towers arranged in a form of a grid placed in the middle of the public empty plaza of the terminal. The scaffolding pillars are spaced out to create a colonnade; a traditional architectural symbol of power and authority built in a fragile ephemeral material: a 700m long orange plastic tarp.
ADW 2016, Roland Halbe © The Loom
In addition to “The Colonnade”, the public was invited to relive “The Bridge” that was never used through wrapping and weaving its existing structure with a 400m long orange plastic tarp to celebrates the temporal permanence of construction debris around the city.
“The Loom” is another spatial design installation built by weaving, interlocking and juxtaposing 4000m long ropes through the existing structure of the pergola that demarks the main atrium in the abandoned complex. This installation, which symbolizes the making in any craft, stands against the anonymity of mass-production and corporate labor.
The Canopies” designed to create a shelter from the sun during the day for the main arcade area was inspired by local visuals patterns. A modular triangular pattern was generated to build each canopy; each canopy was hand netted by a community of women in Gaza camp – Jerash. 3000 triangles are netted using a special crochet technique and the colorful threads are created using collected waste plastic bags.
About the Designer:
Dina Haddadin is an architect and a multidisciplinary visual artist, living and working in Jordan. Haddadin, born in 1983, finished her B.A. in architecture in 2006. And is practicing her profession at symbiosis designs ltd.In 2008 she attended a number of courses at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and participated in a number of local and international exhibitions and workshops since. She won international art awards at an early age from Egypt, China and France. Her first solo exhibition ‘Transit’ was in March 2010. Haddadin’s works are part of collections in Jordan, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, New York and London.
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