Interview // Noura Al Sayeh-Holtrop on Amman Design Week 2019

Interview by Sarah Hejazin

HKZ had the opportunity to interview the curator of The Hangar Exhibition, Noura Al Sayeh-Holtrop, to talk more about the third edition of Amman Design Week.

Over fifty designers from the Middle East and North Africa are presenting work in response to the theme of “possibilities” this October from the 4th – 12th, 2019.

ADW 2019

Noura explained that the spectrum of designers for this edition is wide. The selected projects push the boundaries of what was possible to make and produce but within the realm of our availability today.


“We wanted to curate a show that the audience would feel inspired and empowered by, one that opens up possibilities of making, thinking and creating by opening up new fields of experimentation.”

Al Sayeh

Amina Agueznay © – ADW 2019

Amman Design Week is a platform that gives a lot of visibility to the designers. It builds connections between designers and innovators in Jordan and all over the world. Noura believes that this event is much more than just a design week as it’s deeply engaged in educating, developing and nurturing the local design scene in Jordan.

Larger scale installations that are site specific were specially commissioned for this edition to encourage exploration.

Sahel Hiyari © – ADW 2019

“These installations that are liberated from the burden of a specific program or general constraints of construction, given the opportunity to designers to push the boundaries of experimentation in their work and these moments are really needed and often serve as catalysts and starting points for other commissions or work that they do.”

Al Sayeh

MORPH-X Design Studio © – ADW 2019

Design weeks are an important station in both the participants’ journeys and the curator’s. We asked Noura about the significance of this event on a more personal level, she replied:

“In general, any initiative that is taking place in the Arab World that aims at nurturing or developing the cultural scene in its broadest sense is really important and dear to me.”

Al Sayeh

Noura admits that there has been a lack of institutions that focus on design in the last 50 years. However, she believes that this is changing over the recent years. Noura stated that it is our shared responsibility to contribute and nurture these institutions in whichever capacity we can. There is a lot of importance given to the representation of Arab artists and designers in recognized and reputable western institutions, however, it’s even more important for us to validate and contribute to building our own.

Noura Al Sayeh-Holtrop

“The Amman Design Week aligns especially well with many of the things I strongly believe in, so it was a great chance and opportunity for me to be able to work and contribute and it has really been a pleasure doing so for the past year!”

Al Sayeh

About Noura Al Sayeh-Holtrop

Noura Al Sayeh-Holtrop is an architect and curator currently working at the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA) as Head of Architectural Affairs. She holds a Master’s Degree in Architecture from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.

She was the co-curator of ‘Reclaim’, Bahrain’s first participation at the 12th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2010, and the Deputy Commissioner General for ‘Archaeologies of Green’, Bahrain’s National Pavilion at the Expo Milan 2015. Since 2015, she heads the ‘Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy’ UNESCO World Heritage project, which has received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2019 as part of the revitalization of Muharraq.

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